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Reflections on Museum Management • Southwestern University

By August 28, 2019September 1st, 2021Museum management

Anna Balch ’21, an art history major, interned at the Witte Museum this summer, cataloging and maintaining the Texas art collection.I am intern this summer at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas, as an intern in art collections under the direction of Witte Collections Director Leslie Ochoa. I started my 10 week internship by organizing the works on paper in the Texas Art Collection at the Witte Museum through the rehousing of artwork and updating the museum’s online database. I had many opportunities here and really learned a lot from my internship. I have gained a better understanding of the organization, management and maintenance of a museum’s collections since my time here with the Witte.

Working in a non-profit museum means everyone helps, no matter what their expertise, and for that reason I had the opportunity to help remove exhibits, clean exhibits, take care of preserving works on display in galleries, taking inventory of works of art in galleries and learning the process of lending art to other museums.

My goal during my internship at the Witte Museum was simply to learn the proper procedures for managing the museum’s collections, but what I learned here is far more important. I was able to connect with a multitude of staff, museum donors and the President and CEO, Marise McDermott, of the Witte Museum. I am extremely lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to interact and speak with these people as they gave me great advice and different perspectives on running a museum. The collections department taught me a lot about the inner workings of an art museum and the importance of curating and organizing works of art and building strong links between donors and other museums. Thanks to these interactions, I have a better perception of the administrative aspect as well as the conservation aspect of what makes the success of a museum.

I overcame the obstacle of feeling too inexperienced to be entrusted with all these responsibilities within the care of the different collections. However, my supervisors are extremely nice and make every task an opportunity for me to learn, such as the proper procedures that take place in museum management and the vocabulary needed for the conservation of art, which has really benefited me. my storage reports. During my internship, a group of interns were able to sit casually with McDermott and we talked about leadership, passion and even feelings of doubt. McDermott gave us words of encouragement when he felt unskilled, stating that you can’t learn anything unless you try it yourself. She also encouraged us to surround ourselves with creative people who will know how to support you and help you overcome the obstacles of doubt.

McDermott gave us words of encouragement when he felt unskilled, stating that you can’t learn anything unless you try it yourself.

The biggest advantage of an internship at the Witte Museum is the passionate staff; all of the members I have met love their work at the museum because of how inclusive and creative each is. I have spent a lot of time working in the collections department, and although they are always busy, they never complain about the tasks at hand due to the passion they feel for their work. Working alongside these people strengthens my love for art, and I look forward to exploring other artistic opportunities.

My internship allowed me to deepen my knowledge of the history of Texan art and the way in which it has greatly contributed to the construction of Texan culture. Through different techniques, styles and genres of Texan art, I applied my previous knowledge of art history to my internship and learned new concepts about how Texan culture introduced new techniques in different artistic style movements. During my stay at Le Witte, I have met many different people who are in one way or another entangled in the art world, whether by choice or by accident. Two career paths that intrigued me the most happened when I discovered different art curators and art curators, each sounding like an incredible path that I would like to explore more after graduation.

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