Eleanor was an intern in the Summer of 2019 in SITE’s Education & Public Programs department. Here is her reflection:
This past summer interning at SITE Santa Fe in the Education and Public Programs department has been a fulfilling and eye-opening experience. Before my internship at SITE, I had never worked within a contemporary, non-profit art museum. My past experience involving museum work was in a museum’s visitors service department, which included manning the gift shop and ticket desk. I had never thought of working in museum education before this summer, as I had intended on solely pursuing set design and exhibition design for my career path, but I am very grateful to have been placed within the Education and Public Programs department because I learned a great deal about the importance of museums in their surrounding communities.
I am a firm believer of promoting accessibility within museums. Participating in and helping out with various educational and public programs at SITE showed me how museums can pull in diverse audiences to learn about contemporary art. One educational program that was particularly enjoyable for me was the Girls Inc. activity that we facilitated at SITE. Not only did the girls from Girls Inc. go on SITE Guide tours of SITE’s admirable exhibit, Nina Elder | What Endures, they additionally participated in an activity that encouraged self-reflection and creativity. The girls had to reflect on artworks by Nina Elder that exhibited lists of objects and ideas that fell under specific themes that held importance not only to Elder herself, but to the larger community as well. Interacting with girls of varying ages from Girls Inc. and discussing with them about things they wanted to protect in the world was an enlightening experience. Another experience that encouraged accessibility within SITE was working on a guide to American Sign Language for SITE Guides. After a tour with a group of students from the New Mexico School for the Deaf, some SITE Guides commented that they wished they knew basic sign language in order to communicate better with future groups from the school. I began to research and create a basic guide detailing phrases and words in ASL that I believed would be essential to assisting future tours. Creating this guide not only taught me some ASL, it also expanded my notion of the importance of museum accessibility.
An additional fulfilling experience at SITE was continuing research for the upcoming exhibition, Displaced. Using my own research skills as an art history major, I pulled quotes from articles, researched artists, and watched videos to add to the Displaced research packet. Performing this task was helpful because it enlightened me on how learning about upcoming exhibitions and artists can generate ideas for future educational programs. Creating potential activities that incorporated the works and themes that are highlighted in Displaced was a fun assignment that encouraged me to think creatively.
All in all, interning at SITE Santa Fe was a great experience that broadened my perspective of working in the museum world. This experience was accentuated by the warm and welcoming staff at SITE, with whom I was very grateful to have met. Without the encouragement and advice from all of the staff members I would not have had such a satisfying internship. I now have more options for my career path within the arts in addition to possessing new skills that will not only help me within museum work, but with work within my future communities. Thank you so much!