Students Gain Special Museum Experience During Internship

Students examine artifacts as part of internship.

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Learning to preserve historic artifacts, traveling the Southwest to explore contemporary art, and discovering a new understanding of Southwest culture were a few highlights of an internship this summer at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

Matthew Harris ’18 and Anna Doctor ’18 spent the summer interning at the FAC with the Museum Internship Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The internship, led by Michael Howell, museum internship director and registrar and collections manager, is designed to help students to learn about museums, with a focus on care, handling, documentation, and research of objects, artifacts, and fine art from the American Southwest.

Interns learn about the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, Southwestern cultural diversity, and art conservation, as well exhibit and copyright practices relevant to working in a museum. “Interns get as close to a real-world museum experience as possible with access to learning experiences generally not found in an undergraduate program,” says Howell.

Both Harris and Doctor were looking to learn more about museum work, which is why they decided to spend their summers at the FAC. Doctor is a senior art history major who is exploring her post-college options, while Harris was inspired by his own work as a potter. He heard that the FAC has a large pottery collection, and was interested in studying it. “Looking through the collection of Southwestern pottery gave me many ideas and will likely shape how I make pots,” he says.

Harris and Doctor also had the opportunity to travel to New Mexico to visit the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Harris says the trip supplemented his knowledge of contemporary Native American art. During this trip, he was introduced to the art of Crow artist Kevin Starr, about whom he wrote a profile for the FAC website.

During the same trip, Doctor was inspired to research female Native American artists, and wrote a short piece on Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and her world-renowned art.

Harris and Doctor both credit Howell for giving them a thorough museum experience, and say that they learned lots about the wide variety of roles necessary to run a museum. Harris says this summer inspired a possible interest in installations or exhibit design, while Doctor hopes to interact with visitors in a smaller museum. Both interns say their time at the FAC deepened their understanding of the people and art of the Southwest, and anticipate using their deepened knowledge in the future.

During the field trip to New Mexico, Doctor and Harris had the opportunity to spend time with:

Rachel Moore, Curator at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque;

Amy Baskette, Registrar at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History;

Joseph Diaz, Curator, and Deborah King, Registrar, at the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe;

Tom Leech, Director of the Palace Press, Palace of the Governors;

Della Warrior, Director, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe;

Jonathan Batkin, Director, and Cheri Falkenstien-Doyle, Curator, at the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe

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