The Detroit Institute of Arts is located in Detroit, Michigan. It's collections span runs from Prehistory all the way through the twenty-first century, and were started and embellished by William Valentiner. It has a highly diverse collection of art, and is a very different kind of collection from natural history or history. For more information, please see the website listed below.
Jessica Belcoure - CMU Museum Studies Intern
Right now, I'm in a Museum Studies graduate program at the University of Florida and this program also requires an internship. So as a result, I've done two museum internships-- one as an undergraduate (2007) and one as a graduate student (2010)-- so I'll answer the questions for both museums because they were very different museums and experiences.
Where did you do your internship?
Grad - Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Detroit MI
Why did you pick the internship you did?
DIA - I was looking for an experience in a larger museum, and the project I was offered was relevant to my current research. Also, being in my hometown made it economically viable.
What were some of your favorite parts of your internship?
DIA - I was involved in a project that really took off and eventually garnered national recognition. Also, this internship was much more specific to my interests and research, so I found it to be really valuable to my professional development. Also, all of the museum staff were so gracious and willing to help me learn. I did not expect so many busy professionals to take time to explain their roles and projects to me-let alone invite me to get involved with them!
What kind of jobs/activities did you participate in?
DIA - I was involved in three main projects throughout the summer, with some smaller activities interspersed as well.
DIA: Inside|Out, a public art installation project that involved the creation of life-sized reproductions of our most famous paintings. They were then installed on the exteriors of buildings all around the metro-Detroit area.
Creating one-page synopsis sheets of all of the DIA's programs, to be used in grant proposals, publicity, and for internal staff knowledge.
Gathering data about the museum's outreach to create maps that illustrate the outreach efforts of the museum to various community partners such as schools, churches, cultural centers, senior centers, youth organizations, community organizations, colleges and universities, among others.
I was also involved in some evaluation projects, such as conducting formative evaluations of label text for an upcoming exhibition.
Would you recommend this internship to other students?
DIA - Yes. My internship at the DIA was full of professional and academic experiences in a museum that is run in an extremely professional manner. I recommend the DIA for any student interested in a career in a major universal museum.
Is there any other guidance you would offer students looking for internships?
Both of my internships sort of found me, so I don't have much advice for the searching/application process. However, as an intern, I think the most important quality is a willingness to create your own experiences. Whenever my supervisor was going to a meeting, I asked if I could tag along and take notes. I spent my lunch breaks walking around the galleries to familiarize myself with the collections and interpretive methods. I took guided tours of the museum and spoke with docents. I scheduled meetings for myself with managers and staff in all of the departments in which I had interest. It is important to exhibit a genuine interest in your field and in the institution itself. It goes along with that old adage: you get out only what you put in.