Interning Aboard the VanGO! Museum on Wheels

The Susquehanna Art Museum’s VanGo!


Interning Aboard the VanGO! Museum on Wheels

Author: Olivia Rutledge, Intern at The Susquehanna Art Museum – Summer 2018

This summer I worked as an intern at the Susquehanna Art Museum (SAM) in Harrisburg, PA. The Susquehanna Art Museum is central Pennsylvania’s only dedicated art museum, and its exhibitions explore a wide range of aesthetic and artistic interests while also reflecting the cultural heritage of the area.

The majority of my internship was devoted to helping SAM’s educational outreach program aboard their mobile museum, the VanGo! The VanGo! travels to surrounding schools, summer camps, apartment complexes, etc. displaying an annual exhibition. On these visits, we presented the current show and paired it with a hands-on activity. I was responsible for assisting the educators by helping with the presentations, teaching kids the activity, and setting up the VanGo! for the next outing.

This year’s VanGo! exhibition is Behind the Scenes, a show about jobs in and related to art museums, that aims to expand kids’ awareness of the types of careers that are possible.

The exhibit inside the VanGo! includes: an app the museum helped to develop where visitors curate their own exhibition of Van Gogh paintings and choose how and where on the wall to hang them using a projector; a station where visitors restore a damaged sculpture; a lighting activity where visitors practice lighting a still life in different ways; and many more interactive stations that preview various aspects of museum work.

The hands-on activity that I led for most frequently explored the work of art registrars and the conservators. Each child was given a box and told that it contained damaged art objects donated to the museum and that it was their job to act as inspectors, marking down where and how each of the objects was damaged. We told the kids that these objects would then be given to a restorer or a conservator to fix them and put them back in our museum.

I think it is really important that SAM is using their outreach program to spread awareness about jobs in museums. As a kid, I was not exposed to that, and it was not until high school when I learned just how many jobs are available in museums and in the arts in general. It was very rewarding to be a part a project that makes museums and the arts more accessible for kids.

Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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