I recently posted an article about our twenty-two Summer College Interns (see "New Connections in the Permanent Collection"), and invited you to join us for one of our Highlight Tours or Special Topics Tours.
In addition to these undergraduate-led tours, beginning July 23, our twelve Summer Graduate Interns will present Gallery Talks: hour-long lectures exploring single subjects in a carefully selected handful of rooms. Visitors will be offered new, scholarly insights into the Museum's collection, while the graduate students will develop the skill of communicating complex information in lecture form.
Many of these Gallery Talks blend an art-historical approach with the perspective of someone charged with the objects' care; for example: "If These Textiles Could Talk: Creation, Exhibition, and Conservation of Objects in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Galleries." Other talks focus on how specific works came to the Museum, such as "Private Purses and Public Space," about collecting in the Gilded Age and the establishment of public institutions like the Met. One talk, by an intern in the Department of Scientific Research, is entitled "The History of Canvas Painting," and explores the works from the point of view of the support medium.
The Summer Graduate Interns are an international group of promising scholars, coming from as close as the Institute of Fine Arts, right across the street, or from as far as the University of Calabria, the Courtauld Institute of Art, and National Taiwan University. Most of them are proficient in several languages; in addition to English, many fields require a working knowledge of German and French. Depending on the area of study, interns may also need to learn Chinese, Italian, Sumerian, Mayan languages, Hindi, Sanskrit, Egyptian hieroglyphics, or others.
During their time at the Museum, Summer Graduate Interns work closely with curators and researchers on projects to further knowledge of the Met's collection, practicing the sort of work they eventually hope to perform as museum professionals. This involves a great deal of research: compiling bibliographies, cataloging, exploring archives, and writing descriptions and didactic material. Although this work is far removed from the public eye, its results do appear in the labels and audio guides that help enhance visitors' Museum experience.
Through the Summer Graduate Intern Gallery Talks, we are pleased to offer the views of those who, in a generation, will lead the scholarship and curatorial oversight of the collection here at the Met and elsewhere.
Ryan Wong is a 2010 Summer College Intern.