Curatorial Internships

Davis Museum at Wellesley College


Katherine Davies

My individual assignment revolved around a recent donation to the Davis Museum, the Ann Kirk Warren bequest, consisting of almost 250 works on paper. Previously unfamiliar with the medium, the prints varied greatly both in time and technique. My job was to research each print. I started with a catalogue raisonné –a complete listing of an artist’s work, including titles, dates, medium and additional information –to confirm or correct our information. However, for some works, there was not a catalogue raisonné entry. When this occurred, I did in-depth, object-based research to fill in the blanks. This included referring to international museums and libraries for scans or copies of the original or similar works. This assignment both improved my object-based research skills and allowed me to help the Davis in a visible way: the prints are now included in the Davis’s online database, Mimsy, and one of the prints is up this fall in the Martin Luther: Protest in Print exhibit. 

Group projects also utilized research skills. Every intern researched several works for the Davis’ app, Cuseum. Cuseum is a digital platform where visitors can select tours, and read or listen to individual students’ discoveries at the visitor’s pace. For Cuseum, I had three distinctly Wellesley pieces: Male Nude, nicknamed the Wellesley Athlete, Angelica Kauffman’s Valentine, Proteus, Sylvia and Giulia in the Forest (Scene from “Two Gentlemen of Verona Act v, Scene IV) and Allegory of Minerva Freeing Mankind. Continuing to improve my research skills, I was able to scour archives to find a vast array of information, both visual and textual. Now, all this research is on Cuseum and available to visitors.

Curatorial interns also wrote wall labels for the Friends of Art Wall, a wall which highlights works donated by or in memory of alumnae who support the arts at Wellesley. For Friends of Art, I researched several prints: Jacques Callot’s Temptation of St. Anthony, Odilon Redon’s Fantastic Figure no. 4 and Marc Chagall’s Abraham Preparing to Sacrifice his Son. While many of my friends returned from internships explaining how they simply filed and copied paperwork all summer, I was able to show them the wall labels I created, on display at the Davis.  These labels improved my communication skills, something valuable in any professional setting.

When I began this internship, I had both had no idea how museums were run, nor how to effectively communicate research to anyone not fluent in Art Historical jargon. As a result of this program, I’ve grown as a professional and a student. My research skills have improved, I can write more clearly, I understand the range of opportunities and career paths in the art world, and can operate in a 9-5 job. While some interns came out of the experience with extreme clarity for future careers, I was among those who came out with more questions than answers.  I have now been exposed to so many possible opportunities I have trouble discerning what I am interested in, which is a good problem to have. This summer, I could have been at home working a minimum wage job with no museum experience. Instead, the Davis provided an unprecedented opportunity to work as a professional and concurrently exposed me to more opportunities than could possibly be listed here.