My Guggenheim Reflection

September 21, 2018

As I type away at my favorite college campus coffee shop in the heart of the University of Minnesota, the ten weeks that I spent interning at the Guggenheim over the summer feel more like an obscure, fever-induced dream than a recent reality. I mean, was I really in New York City the entire summer? Did I actually bike to work each morning through Central Park? Was my nose truly inches away from an unframed, off-display Van Gogh? And top-priority, does this mean I consumed as many everything bagels with tofu-cream-cheese as I think I did?

It does, and I did. My experience as a Family Programs Intern within the museum's education department was a surreal experience that I have no intention of ever letting fade in my mind, and as I try to reflect and summarize ten weeks of art, education, creativity, and kindness, I struggle knowing where to even begin. So, as many stories do, I'll start at the beginning.

It begins with Minneapolis: with the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the University of Minnesota Art Department, and the College of Design. Of course, my artistic interests had developed long before I first arrived on campus, but I feel that my past few years here have been a crucial period of self-discovery. By seeking peace and refuge at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, by looking up to amazing role models within the Art Department and College of Design, both students and faculty (and who I will not name, but who know who they are), and by the constant inspiration I feel surrounded by a dedicated and hard-working community of artists and educators, some of whom I've had the continuous pleasure to speak with, interview, and write about, by doing all of this, I found myself at the Guggenheim.

Once there, I became immersed in the day-by-day of a world-renowned museum. Whether it was working side-by-side with my supervisor (hi, Emily!), researching upcoming exhibitions, ideating activities and curriculum, assisting art educators in the galleries, helping little Guggs not eat block-printing ink during open studios,  shadowing tours, prepping art supplies, my days were full and so were my heart and mind! The summer re-confirmed my suspicions, and I will be pursuing the university's visual art education graduate program in the hopes to ultimately work in education within an art museum. Whew - I've just been hit with another wave of surrealness.

Another aspect of the internship that I loved and appreciated over and over was the Museum Cultural Seminars (thank you, Jilly and Justine :) ). Each Friday the other Guggenheim interns and I would bounce around the city to a number of arts and cultural centers to hear from professionals in their field. Some examples include the Paddle8 auction house, the Red Bull Arts, and the Ugly Duckling Presse. And the other interns! I met so many smart, kind, stylish, passionate, hilarious, devoted, unique, and special individuals who I will be keeping in contact with for years and years to come.

All in all, I loved the museum's environment and the ever-present mission of betterment. I had a chance to attend a symposium led by artist and activist Shaun Leonardo in conjunction with the Guggenheim's Social Practice initiative; in which his recent work Primitive Games was reflected upon and discussed alongside a broader conversation regarding a museum's role and responsibility of collaborating with socially engaged artists. Conversations such as these, especially when they're supported by the institutions which hold so much power in an artist's recognition and professional success, make me indescribably encouraged and enthusiastic about the future of the arts and my role within it.

I'm saddened that my time at the Guggenheim had to come to an end, and heartbroken about all of the goodbyes and farewells shared on my last day, but I've come back to Minneapolis with an invigorated sense of self and sense of purpose and responsibility. I have nothing left to say but thank you, thank you, thank you! - to everyone who has helped me along the way, supported and encouraged me, and welcomed there and back again. I owe so much to you, and I'm ever grateful.