Undergraduate Work

  • Photograph of myself in front of a fossil diorama at the CMNH, a topic of discussion at a meeting.

     

    Ethics: How Museum Policies Are Made

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History—Fall 2018

    This semester I worked as the Ethics Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH). My experience opened my eyes to what goes into policy and decision making for a large institution. As an avid museum-goer my whole life, I never considered what goes into making exhibits and installations that the public gets to see. The work I completed over the course of this semester exposed me to the other side of museum work and gave me an appreciation for how museums function. 

    During my internship, I was responsible for researching Codes of Ethics from American Alliance of Museums accredited institutions and compiled all the information into recommendations for the CMNH’s Code of Ethics revision. This unique internship provided me with opportunities to grow as a researcher and allowed me to partake in meetings with various museum staff and faculty members. 

    During my internship, I had the opportunity to attend three meetings with senior museum staff. I met with the Director of the Museum, Director of Science and Research, and the Chairman of the Ethics committee, as well as two staff members who work in the collections department. My final meeting was with my mentor and the Chairman of the Ethics committee to present my findings. During these meetings, numerous museum issues and regulations were discussed, including whether or not fossils should be treated as minerals or human remains, and even how to display ivory in the animal dioramas. Through these conversations, I learned about the ethical considerations of curation and display in natural history museums. My internship experience gave me a new perspective as a museum-goer.  When I walk into museums now, I can no longer look at intricate animal dioramas or Native American artifacts passively. Now, I have an understanding of the ethical issues and procedures that go into displaying these objects.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
     

    Studying a Vietnam War Veteran at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall

    Museums Studies Intern at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum — Fall 2018

    Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum is an institution that commemorates our veterans and fallen heroes that have participated in the many conflicts that the United States has participated in. The staff of the museum is dedicated to the preservation of the personal artifacts of many veterans, and they endeavor to teach children, seniors, and adults alike about the hardships and struggles of our military personnel. The museum itself is a small institution, but they work hard to cover the various wars and conflicts the United States has engaged in from the American Civil War up to the present day.

    My main project during my internship was analyzing the photographs and letters sent home by a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, Sgt. John R. Elm. John Elm spent a year in Vietnam, serving his country dutifully. He was born on January 19th, 1948, and died on September 14th, 2003. He lived in Pittsburgh, and frequently sent letters and photographs that he took home to his family. He was sent to Vietnam in June 1968 and went home in July 1969. He would write home in his free time in order to calm his nerves after experiencing stressful combat situations. However, he would leave out gory details when addressing his family at large, preferring to save those details for letters home to his sister, Maxine Elm. Elm bought a camera while in Vietnam, and sent many pictures home with the letters, which allowed me to connect many of the photographs to what Elm wrote about in his letters home.

    One of the most touching aspects of letters and photos that John sent home from the battlefield was the story of his battery’s adoption of a stray dog as their “mascot.” This dog’s name was Pro-Jo, short for “projectile,” perhaps due to her climbing into a mortar canon. It was thought that they lost her in Dong Tam when they took her to get shots, but she showed back up later on. By the end of John’s time in Vietnam, he heard that the men that were going to take their leave in Hawaii were planning on bringing Pro-Jo along and finding her a family. It’s rather heartwarming that John Elm’s story in Vietnam ended with him going back home to Pittsburgh and a stray dog finding a home. 

    I worked with Lisa Petita (Collections Manager), Tim Neff (Vice President/Director of Museum & Education), and Michael Kraus(Curator). Outside of my main project, my day to day tasks included aiding in the accession of received military artifacts, helping with setting up for events such as the Canon Ball Fundraiser and school visitations, as well as occasionally aiding with the instruction of visiting school groups.

    My experiences at Soldiers and Sailors were extremely valuable and I am glad that I have had a chance to intern here. I have gained a greater appreciation for the common man in the military, and the struggles that they have gone through. I also appreciate the great work that the people who work there go through in order to sustain a museum collection, no matter how small. 

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  • Taylor and her fellow interns construct Trisha Holt’s 16 piece, 4'x4' rug.

     

    Curating an Exhibition: From the Ground Up

    Museum Studies Intern at Silver Eye Center for Photography – Fall 2018

    At the start of my internship at Silver Eye Center for Photography, I was selected to collaboratively curate an exhibition with senior staff members and my fellow interns from Point Park University. Our first goal was to find 100 regional photographers for the exhibition. We individually researched artists based on location, then documented our favorites through Pinterest. We have collected seventy-seven photographers altogether, and are now working to narrow the group down to 10-15 photographers, selecting a variety of creative visions and locations. The exhibition will be shown at Silver Eye during the Spring of 2019.

    As part of our training, Silver Eye’s Communications Coordinator Kate Kelley devoted a generous amount of her time and energy into teaching us basic design strategies for email and social media, archiving prints decades old into digital media, and installing artwork. My fellow interns and I also learned about printing photographs, framing images, and properly handling and packaging framed items for shipping in the Lab at Silver Eye from Sean Stewart. Over the past few weeks, I have also had the opportunity to observe and assist in installing two exhibitions: Door into the Dark and The In-Between. During install week for The In-Between, the other interns and I constructed Trisha Holt’s sixteen piece rug, as seen in the attached image. Holt’s “rug” is not made of textile, but rather paper with an enlarged image of a rug that has been expanded into sixteen pieces, creating a four by four work that appears like a rug from a distance. Because the work is intended to be walked upon, we felt that it was essential to curate the piece in such a way that felt inviting for people to interact with.

    These learning experiences will be applied to two upcoming Spring shows at Silver Eye,

    Come April 2019, I will have been a part of four group exhibitions at this location. Working with this organization has  looking forward to continue working with this team next semester, completing the regional photography exhibition, and sharing the images of photographers we have worked so hard to discover.

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  •  

    Interactive Art: A gateway to the Abstract

    Museum Studies intern at Carnegie Museum of Art – Fall 2018

    This fall I’ve had the privilege of working under Marilyn Russell, the Curator of Education at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and Sally Cao, the Curatorial and Education Program Manager, during the Carnegie International 2018. I was tasked with analyzing and attempting to quantify Gallery ambassador surveys from the exhibits and helping to build a picture of how the ambassadors can assist the guests and enhance the visitor experience. While there are many examples of how they do this, what caught me the most was the passing comments of the visitors which were recorded by the ambassadors.

    What stood out to me is just how much people from all ages had to say about the pieces. The art Labor piece focuses on consumerism and the effects it has on other countries. It uses Vietnamese coffee as an example, as the coffee industry has largely changed the agricultural landscape in that country for the purpose of the product being sold in other countries. The comments from the art labor exhibit range everywhere from “Where can I get coffee like this?” to “It’s like eco-gentrification” and everything in between. Although some of these comments miss the point, but perhaps that’s not the point. In analyzing art or anything else, one has to risk the chance of being wrong. Of course, this isn’t a definitive comment, but when I compare the volume of comments on the surveys along with the comments I’ve observed while wondering the exhibits myself, I’ve found that the amount of comments directed at interactive exhibits greatly surpass those at non-interactive exhibits. This might vary base on the demographic of the visitors. In any event, what follows those statements from what I’ve observed is engagement with the ambassador. This turns the idle comments into a deeper form of understanding including more abstract ideas. It’s my belief that the increase of comfort levels with art using this kind of interaction is the bridge to having the confidence to speak on the feelings one gets from interacting with art that is less physical.

    Ultimately, I feel very privileged to have been able to work under people like Ms. Russell and Ms. Cao and work with their insight and experience to better understand how the guests interact with the museum and seeing how the museum also effects the guest and corresponding community as it opens their minds in various ways and to various topics which they otherwise might not be interacting with. I of course include myself apart of that latter category and attribute my better understanding of the museum’s important place in the community to this internship position and to the insights of the ambassadors and guests with whom I’ve spent time

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  • Exploring the book, Building Stories, while sitting in the Special Collections Department reading room.

     

    Building Stories

    Museum Studies Intern at Special Collections Department, Hillman Library – Fall 2018

    During my internship at the Special Collections Department of Hillman Library, I worked with a recent acquisition called Building Stories that helped me rediscover my love of books. Building Stories is not a typical book—packaged in a board game-style box and bound in various forms such as comic strips, a Little Golden Book, and full-page illustrations. The plot of the book does not have a singular storyline, instead, it depends on the way the reader begins each section, meaning that everyone reads the book differently and has a unique experience. Not only does the reader build a story, but the story itself is about a building and its tenants: the landlady on the ground floor, the main character on the first floor, a couple on the second floor, and an anthropomorphized bee. 

    Interning at the Special Collections Department of Hillman Library aided in my discovery of the incredible materials they have. On most days, I shelved and pulled books, conducted research for several projects, and compiled lists of the materials visiting classes used so both the Department and the students can refer to them again. 

    These tasks allowed me to interact with intriguing texts and learn about new literary genres.. For example, when a class focusing on science fiction came for a browsing session, I composed a list of all the books and pulp magazines they used. Before their visit I had heard of pulp magazines but had never directly interacted with them. Working with this collection, I learned how imaginative and interesting pulp magazines covers and stories are. Interning reminded me of the joys of discovery libraries offer. When I was in high school, I used to love libraries and books. I finished a novel every other day and was constantly looking for new reading material. Once I began college, I no longer felt like I had the time to read books for pleasure. Working with the materials in the Special Collections Department, reminded me of the vibrant creativity that goes into developing books, magazines, and other forms of literature. I am grateful I had the opportunity to intern there because exploring their extraordinary resources renewed my appreciation for books and libraries. 

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  • Digitizing Nan Goldin's memoir of Greer Lankton, A Rebel Whose Dolls Embodied Her Dreams

     

    Experiencing the Different Levels of the Greer Lankton Archive

    Museum Studies Intern at the Mattress Factory – Fall 2018

    In 1996, just weeks before her passing, transgender artist Greer Lankton presented a monumental exhibition of her work at the Mattress Factory (MF) in the Northside. The centerpiece of the show was Lankton’s first large-scale installation piece, It’s all about ME, Not You. While looking through the Greer Lankton Archive this semester, I came across the original correspondences between the curator of the 1996 show, the director of the MF, and Lankton, organizing a trip for Lankton to come to Pittsburgh to see the museum and plan out the installation. 

    This fall, I was tasked with processing Lankton’s archival material, starting with organizing numerous boxes of magazine and newspaper clippings, personal letters, contracts, photographs, and exhibition materials. I quickly noticed that Lankton kept anything mentioning her or her work, whether it was a short sentence in a magazine promoting a group show, or a full-page advertisement for a solo exhibition. In a sense, Lankton archived her own life and work by saving such a vast range of materials. Looking through her papers, I witnessed Lankton’s professional successes as well as the personal struggles she faced. Her work portrays these challenges, but reading striking first-hand accounts written by Lankton and those closest to her was even more powerful.

    One of the most notable things I read was a binder of daily journal entries written by Lankton’s father, Bill. The entries were written while Lankton’s parents were spending more time with her to offer support during her recovery. Bill Lankton writes about mundane activities, like accompanying Greer to McDonald’s, where they seemed to go at least twice a week, to more exciting activities, such as their trip to Pittsburgh to visit the MF. The journal concludes with entries from the days after Greer’s passing, when her parents and family friends collected her things from her apartment in Chicago, forming the basis of the MF’s archive. In the same way Greer compiled her personal archive, her parents picked up where she left off. Bill Lankton describes rifling through boxes of exhibition pamphlets and promotional materials, just as I did this semester.

    Along with supporting the permanent installation of It’s all about ME, Not You, one of the goals of the Greer Lankton Archive, is to make the material more readily available to researchers and scholars through digitization. Once I organized a portion of the archive, I scanned everything and uploaded the files into Collective Access, the MF’s collections database. My time at the MF taught me the value of committing to a process, even though I was not sure what the outcome would be. Through this project, I also gained a new sense of respect for Greer Lankton, her parents, and her art. Seeing all of Lankton’s life—from school reports from when she was still known as “Greg,” to the aftermath of her death through Bill Lankton’s journal entries—allowed me the opportunity to consider her legacy and what it means to document someone’s life.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  • A little known artwork by Sol LeWitt in the underground T Station at Wood Street in Pittsburgh, PA

     

    Pittsburgh’s Sol LeWitt

    Museum Studies Intern at the Office of Public Art - Fall 2018

    One of the best and most valuable opportunities I had during my internship was the chance to interview Carol R. Brown, the former President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Carol R. Brown was a member of the committee that commissioned a piece by Sol LeWitt in the Wood Street T Station titled Thirteen Geometric Figures. Brown and I discussed the selection process of artists for public art commissions and spoke about several of the other pieces of artwork around Pittsburgh. I was particularly excited for this interview because of Brown’s former position in the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and her accomplishments for the arts in the city.

    Brown was responsible for raising fund for the project in the private sector. The Port Authority was responsible for the construction costs and the committee would secure the private funds necessary to match the Port Authority funds. Brown met with Jack Heinz, the head of the Heinz Endowment and the Heinz Corporation at the time. Heinz loved the arts and ended up talking to Brown for two hours and ultimately gave the committee the quarter of a million they needed.  During the installation process, LeWitt worked with the architects to ensure that the connection between his artwork and the light rail station was seamless.

    Interning for the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council has opened my eyes to the vast amount of artwork around downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland. My main responsibility this semester was visiting ten different public art sites in these specific areas and writing about them for the Art Places section of the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council website. Rachel Klipa, Program Manager for the Office of Public Art, was my mentor and the person to whom I reported. Once my submissions were submitted to her, Rachel would edit and then approve my writings once they were revised. Some of the Art Places Profiles I produced include the Westinghouse Memorial in Schenley Park, To Pittsburgh by Jenny Holzer in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and the Edward Manning Bigelow statue in front of Phipps Conservatory.

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  •  

    Chain Reaction Contraption Competition

    Museum Studies Intern at Carnegie Science Center - Fall 2018

     “The beak of a giant squid-like creature has been found on the bottom of the fjord. The only conclusion we can come to is that we have found the remains of the monster that inspired the Viking legends, the only thing that frightened them. We have found proof... of the LEGEND OF THE KRAKEN!”. And with that an eager audience watched and listened as Oleg and Grigorg, two holographic Vikings brought back to life using the most advanced technology, recounted their final efforts to defeat the legendary beast. Through a roundabout chain of events including a faulty catapult launch, misfired cannon, disruption of the god Thor and a treacherous lightning storm, the Kraken met his demise. 

    Spectators proceeded to watch as the Vikings set a recreation of their complicated story into action. Using only gravity and a plastic boulder, a machine consisting of over 20 intricately constructed steps was set into motion. After months of planning and preparation, the student team from Seneca Valley High School was presenting their original Chain Reaction Contraption to a panel of judges. The creativity in both their design and presentation did not go unnoticed as they earn themselves an award for the most creative contraption. 

    The Chain Reaction Contraption Contest is an annual competition held at Carnegie Science Center. Nearly 50 teams of high school students learned about design, problem solving and teamwork as they built contraptions to complete a specific task in no fewer than 20 steps. This year, students were challenged to create contraptions that would ‘tie a knot’. Teams have the opportunity to exhibit their creative side as they decided how to interpret the given challenge. As an intern in the Marketing Department at Carnegie Science Center, my semester of work culminated in the opportunity to manage the media surrounding this year’s competition, a highlight of my internship experience. From writing the media advisory to creating content for social media throughout the day of the competition and adding my contributions to the Science Center’s photo archive I was given the opportunity to showcase all of the skills I had garnered through the semester. 

    In a city known for science and innovation, Carnegie Science Center has worked hard to establish themselves as trusted voice of science and technology. I was honored to be a part of assisting the Science Center in maintaining this role within the community. Throughout my internship I gained an understanding of the breadth of tasks the Marketing Department undertakes as I managed large data sets of sponsor deliverables, collected and analyzed visitor information, directly engaged with the public to enhance community relations and much more. The opportunities the Science Center provided me as an intern were invaluable. 

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh

    Tim filming the Titanic... After Dark Promotional Video

     

    Titanic: Dinosaur Edition

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Fall 2018

    During my internship at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I assisted Tim, the museum’s Videographer, with filming a promotional video for the event Titanic… After Dark. Tim had cleverly storyboarded a video similar to the movie Titanic’s trailer, including iconic scenes from the movie–but with Rose and Jack being played by dinosaurs. We filmed at various locations in the museum, starting at the long benches in the Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians. We used this area to recreate the iconic scene where Jack paints Rose wearing the “Heart of the Ocean” necklace. 

    From there we moved to the museum’s grand staircase to recreate the moment Jack goes to the first class club and sees Rose coming down the stairs. I helped to set up scenes, carry props, and assist the actors. I helped the actors adjust their dinosaur costumes, attaching the proper wigs and accessories to them for each scene. It was extremely difficult to get our “Heart of the Ocean” necklace to stay attached to the inflatable dinosaur costume, so I helped figure out the best way to keep it in place. I was even able to make suggestions for the best locations to recreate scenes from the movie.

    The museum frequently hosts After Dark event nights that have various themes, and are for visitors ages 21 and up. After Dark events occur at night from 6-10pm and are a unique experience where adults can visit the museum, as well as purchase cocktails. These nights spark a lot of public interest since they are a fun excuse for the attendees to dress up, see live music, fun demonstrations, and are centered around a unique theme. During my time working at CMNH, I assisted in creating social media content for the Zombies After Dark event, which was held in October 2018, as well as creating social media content for the Titanic… After Dark event in December of 2018.

    As a Museum Studies intern in the Marketing Department of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, it was my job to help promote special events and exhibitions and to respond to event inquiries on social media. My work was overseen by Kathleen Sallada, Erin Southerland, and Tim Evans. Throughout my time at the museum, I was assigned a variety of tasks in order to assist the department in any way possible, but my favorite assignment was assisting Tim film the Titanic… After Dark video. When the final video was released on Facebook, it received a lot of positive attention from the public. I enjoyed being a part of creating such a great social media advertisement and seeing all that goes into video production. 

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
  • In this image, I am flipping through the only Jewish book in Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules (TC). To my right is TC (-1.4); the box where I uncovered this 67-year-old leather-bound text.

     

    Revelations in the Time Capsules

    Museum Studies Intern at the Andy Warhol Museum – Fall 2018

    This past semester, I had the opportunity to be a curatorial intern for José Carlos Díaz, the chief curator of the Andy Warhol Museum. Given my academic concentration on the intersection of art and religion, my job was to aid José in his preparation of Andy Warhol: Revelation (October 2019), an exhibition focusing on the Pop artist’s religious side. Contrary to many popular perceptions of Andy Warhol, he held very traditional Catholic beliefs, and his faith manifested itself throughout his art. My research for the exhibition led me through numerous scholarly texts and Warhol’s biographic accounts, but the most compelling source was undoubtedly the Time Capsules

    Starting in 1974 and ending at the artist’s death in 1987, Warhol compiled 610 Time Capsules by placing a mélange of items (from correspondence to food) into cardboard boxes and saving them in storage to be opened on a future date. Time Capsules is considered to be the world’s most expansive readymade artwork and all of its boxes have all ready been opened, stabilized, and cataloged in the Andy Warhol Museum’s Archives Study Center. I focused on Andy’s religious ephemera, evidence of his church attendance, and correspondence with his nephew Pauly Warhola – who received his uncle’s financial support for seminary. 

    Despite numerous dead ends and red herrings, I uncovered some important information that may be featured in the exhibition. Based on Andy’s daily diary entries, he said that he “went to church” sixty-one times over the roughly five hundred recorded weeks from November 1976 to February 1987. However, I found Mass programs in the Time Capsules from dates when Warhol omitted church attendance in his diary, which suggests that he was going to church more than he was willing to admit. By closely reading correspondence sent from Pauly Warhola to his grandmother Julia and uncle Andy, I also discovered key instances where Andy provided funds to support his nephew’s studies for the priesthood. 

    Andy was a notorious collector, especially of religious objects. Throughout the archives, one can examine Christian objects from kitschy collectibles to the Warhola family bible. There is even a Qur’an that Warhol picked up during his travels. Yet throughout Warhol’s entire collection, there were no traces of Judaica until I uncovered a Hebrew Bible in pictures (a Jewish book containing biblical stories with corresponding images) buried amidst the miscellany of Time Capsule (-1.4). This picture Bible, published in 1951 in Tel Aviv, Israel, was originally cataloged with the notation that it was a Christian object, but the miniature book does not include the New Testament. 

    After spending time in the Archives Study Center, I came to understand the intimate perspective that the material record can shed on the life of Andy Warhol. Despite the museum establishment over twenty-four years ago, there is still new information waiting to be uncovered about the secret side of the “Pope of Pop.”

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh

Pages