Kristen graduated from the University of Alabama in the summer of 2013. She worked at SITE in the Exhibitions Department as an intern during the summer of 2013. Here are her final reflections about her experience at SITE upon completing her internship.
When deciding where I wanted to intern for summer 2013, I was looking for a museum that I thought would give me the most well-rounded experience, letting me leave with as much knowledge about how a museum works as possible. That is what I thought I would be given at SITE, and I was not let down.
The first half of my 3-month internship at SITE I spent working with the preparators (David Merrill and the crew) de-installing Linda Montano’s show, then installing The Pearl, a 15,000-square foot experience by Enrique Martinez Celaya. During this time, I learned everything from how to condition-report pieces of work to how best to stack 3,000 rocks in the floor so that they will not come loose. Each preparator worked with me on different things, depending upon his specialty. Dylan taught me how to work with video and how to install projectors, Keith worked with me on tools and how to use them (never thought I would be using a diamond blade or a jackhammer!), and Joseph showed me the best way to handle artwork.
Working with the crew was an eye-opening experience for me, one that I loved every second of. (Well, maybe I didn’t love it when we were tearing down walls in a Bruce Nauman piece, because my arms were killing me, but I loved every other minute of it!) I don’t think anyone realizes just how much time it takes to install a show until they actually do it. Seeing everything the crew does every single day, working non-stop, sometimes until midnight, to get a show down, makes you appreciate shows a lot more.
The second half of my internship I worked with Janet Dees, the assistant curator. Each day she gave me a project or two to work on that I would turn back into her upon completion. A lot of days it would be computer work, like researching curators and artists for SITElines next year, looking up biographies and exhibits of future artists that might come to SITE, organizing folders in the computer, etc. Some days I would work on projects such as going through all the mail submissions, looking up those artists and seeing who might fit well with SITE and the views/ideas of SITE.
Janet was very accommodating and didn’t just tell me things I could do for her, but also asked what she could do for me. When I told her that my goal for the summer was to learn as much as I could about how a museum works and what each person does in the museum, she took it upon herself to spend about an hour once a week with me to show me what her job entails. We went over how to make a budget, how to raise the money (since SITE is non-profit), how to create shows that blend well together but still show a variety of work, how to find new artists, etc.
Not only did Janet help me out, but Amanda (one of her jobs is to coordinate the internship program) did a great job making the internship experience complete for the interns. We had an intern breakfast one time during the summer and a couple of lunches. Each Friday she had a visit planned to either a studio of a local artist, a book making company, other galleries, and one time we even got to tour the Santa Fe Opera! She also set up meetings between a staff member and the interns each week so that we could speak to them, ask them questions, and learn about what they do.
My internship at SITE Santa Fe was everything I could have hoped for this past summer. I fell in love with the museum, the people, and the city. I just recently graduated college last month, so now I have decided to live in Santa Fe full-time, because my summer experience was such a strong one. I can’t wait to see what SITE does in the future, and I will always be thankful to David, Janet, Amanda, and everyone else that made my summer a great one!