Friday, 25 May 2018

CLOSING TRADITIONS; OPENING MINDS

MUSEUM INNOVATIONS

BY: KEELAN CASHMORE

Who remembers taking field trips in grade school? I know I do. And I tend to remember them as some of the best days of actually being in grade school. There was nothing like spending the day somewhere else. It could be a museum, a zoo, a historic house, or a science centre. It didn’t matter at all. What mattered was we were still learning, but also experiencing something outside of the classroom and getting the chance to try something new.

The Magic School Bus. Source.
At this point you’re probably wondering Keelan – why are you talking about field trips? What does that have to do with museum innovation?

And to answer that, I’m going to tell you about Chevron Open Minds, a program I learned about when I started my internship, that operates at The Rooms in Newfoundland. Essentially, Open Minds invites teachers to bring their students to the museum for class for an entire week!

Chevron Open Minds Logo. Source.
“This innovative program is based on the Open Minds education concept, which emphasizes the value of allowing students to slow down and become immersed in new and engaging learning environments. Students participate in a curriculum based, interdisciplinary program developed by their teacher in consultation with the Chevron Open Minds Coordinator. Each week is unique and is based on the needs of the teachers and students.” (Source

Naturally, I was curious to see if this program was offered anywhere else in Canada. I was thrilled to find that it also operates in Calgary, Alberta, with the Calgary Zoo, Glenbow Museum, Cross Conservation Area, and the Telus Spark Science Centre, and in Fort McMurray, Alberta, at the Heritage Village.

In learning about this program, I was curious – why don’t more museums and schools adopt the Open Minds program?

From what I learned in conversation with instructors, and my own research, there are several reasons why Open Minds wasn’t as common as I thought it would be (Source Implementing the Open Minds Education Concept in your Community):

1) Museums and schools tend to view each other as “peripheral” – Education programming is considered an “add-on”, not an integral part of the museum experience.

2) In the school world, field-trips are thought to be “frivolous” or “non-essential” inclusions into the curriculum, as opposed to “legitimate” learning pathways.

3) Schools are not necessarily considered the “real world” and being consistently “locked” in classrooms can limit the kind of learning taking place.

4) Museums tend to place children through a series of activities without focusing on what they already know or what they want to learn – and they often have little involvement from the teachers.

5) There is a disconnect between the two, and it takes a willingness on both sides to be able to work together and make the program successful.

Essentially, Open Minds strives to bring schools and museums in sync with each other. Instead of having a field trip with little to no context and a limited link to learning, the museum and instructors work with the curriculum to maximize learning. This incorporates new experiences and provides a new and enriching environment outside of the classroom.

Personally, I think this is incredibly important. Not just for children as students now, but also in fostering a lifelong appreciation for learning in museums, and how the combination of these different worlds can help individuals think and grow in new ways. So often students get bogged down with school and homework, and instead of fostering enthusiasm and eagerness for learning, the focus is on completing assignments and memorizing enough information to pass an exam.

By promoting a want for learning, these programs are also promoting a different interpretation of museums. Instead of thinking of museums traditionally, as places filled with old objects where patrons must be quiet and not touch anything, students will hopefully see them as dynamic spaces where history comes to life, and where visitors are free to explore and experience them as individuals.

Source.
Overall, I think this link between “structured learning” and “field trips” will aid in helping children develop an appreciation for something my peers always thought of as “boring”. I look forward to seeing how this program develops, and how it helps shape the next generation of future museum attendees (and scholars)!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

8 BEST CAFES NEAR THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

THE GRAD SCHOOL GUIDE

BY: LAETITIA DANDAVINO-TARDIF

During the school year, we get caught up with our studies and often end up hiding between the stacks at Robarts Library. I recommend changing up your work environment and taking a coffee break to have a team meeting or a chat with friends! Here is a list of my favourite coffee shops to go in between classes to get a boost of caffeine.

All within walking distance of campus, what I appreciate about these locations is that they offer great coffee (obviously!) and have free Wi-Fi! Some are quiet and ideal to study, while others, more busy, are sources of inspiration thanks to their lovely décor and atmosphere.

Within a 5-minute walk: 

L’Espresso Bar Mercurio
321 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1S5

This café is perfect for a chat with friends or for a team meeting as they have a bookable private room. Yet, it is less ideal for long hours of study. I usually grab something to eat with my coffee as they have a great meal selection. The best part is that they offer 20% off on food with your student ID!


b Espresso Bar
273 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W2

This charming hidden gem is located in the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Atrium. With a lot of light coming in through the roof, this is an ideal location to study. I like to admire the architecture of the old building while enjoying my coffee.

A post shared by Matt (@elusivewords) on

Diabolos’ Coffee Bar
15 King's College Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7

This hard-to-find student-run café is located in the Junior Common Room of University College. While it gets busy during lunch hour, there are always students studying at the large tables throughout the day. It also has a microwave to heat up your lunch. Fun fact: a friendly dog hangs out there sometimes!


Within a 10-minute walk: 

Café 059
1 Spadina Crescent, Toronto, ON M5S 2J5

This student-run café is located at the beautiful new University of Toronto’s Daniels Building. With very affordable coffee and baked goods, I enjoy staying in the lobby to study or taking my coffee with me to the Eberhard Zeidler Library There is also a microwave by this café if you want to heat up your lunch!


Goldstruck Coffee
130 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R 1A6

Tucked away in a half-basement in Yorkville, Goldstruck has dim lighting, is cozy, and is a great place to relax. With many tables and a larger one at the back, I enjoy that they each have an electric outlet to charge a computer.

A post shared by Eunice Villegas (@villegase_) on 

Within a 20-minute walk: 

Jimmy’s Coffee (McCaul location)
166 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T 1W4

While Jimmy’s has many locations across Toronto, I like the one on McCaul because it is less crowded than the other locations, but still offers delicious coffee. I always try to grab the table hidden behind the fireplace, which is ideal for team meetings.

A post shared by Doris LW🕊 (@blissinlace) on

Café Pamenar
307 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2M2

Located in Kensington Market, this café is also a gallery with constantly changing photography exhibitions. When the weather is nice, I like to study on the café’s back patio (and the Wi-Fi reaches outside). However, as it turns into a bar at night, laptops are not allowed after 8 PM.

A post shared by Eat with Laetitia (@leti.eat) on

FIKA Cafe
28 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2J9

You might have heard of this café before or seen pictures of their famous book pages wall. The back room, with its large table, is ideal for working and is quite inspiring. However, in the heart of Kensington Market, it is often busy. If the weather is nice, you can work on their cozy patio (with Wi-Fi connection also available)!

A post shared by Laetitia (@letite) on


Going to these cafés is also a great way to explore the city and make the most of your time in Toronto during your Masters of Museum Studies.

For more of my favorite places around Toronto, you can check my Instagram blog: @leti.eat.

Enjoy!



Monday, 21 May 2018

MAX STERN: DEVELOPMENTS IN A RESTITUTION STORY 70 YEARS IN THE MAKING

MUSE NEWS

BY: AMY INTRATOR

Over the past couple weeks, you may have seen the name Max Stern frequenting news headlines. On May 3rd, 2018, news broke that two Canadian curators have withdrawn from a high-profile exhibit about Max Stern. A few days later, on May 7th, a ceremony took place in Munich to restitute a painting to the Max and Iris Stern Foundation.

In today’s edition of #MuseNews, I’ll be diving into the backstory of Max Stern and the long-fought battle for the restitution of Nazi-confiscated artwork.

Image of a young Max Stern in Germany. Source.

Who was Max Stern?

Max Stern was born in München-Gladbach, Germany, in 1904. After earning a doctorate in art history, Max Stern took over management of Galerie Julius Stern, his father’s art gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany. Max Stern inherited the gallery after his father’s death in 1934, but he soon faced the restrictive laws of Nazi Germany, which essentially made it impossible for him to operate his gallery as a Jewish citizen. After facing increased pressure from the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts, Stern liquidated the gallery’s inventory. Stern moved to England, and a few years later to Canada, where he later owned the Dominion Gallery in Montreal. Stern had an extremely successful career as an art dealer in Canada, where he remained until his death in 1987. For a more detailed biographical sketch, read the National Gallery of Canada's description of the Max Stern Fonds.

What is the Max Stern Art Restitution Project?

After Stern’s death, McGill, Concordia, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem became the primary beneficiaries of Stern’s estate. In his lifetime, Max Stern did not openly discuss his life in Germany, so it was only after his death that researchers handling his estate discovered his connection to Galerie Julius Stern. Records also revealed that Max Stern had filed a restitution claim in 1948, which listed 20 paintings and prints that were a part of his lost art collection. In light of this discovery, the beneficiaries of Stern’s estate established the Max Stern Art Restitution Project to recover over 400 paintings that had been unethically taken from Max Stern and now belong to museums and art collectors worldwide. The Project has successfully recovered several works and continues an ongoing pursuit to recover the entire lost collection.

The painting Girl from the Sabine Mountains (circa 1840) was restituted by the Max Stern Art Restitution Project in 2008. Source.

What’s the story behind the upcoming exhibit Max Stern: From Dusseldorf to Montreal?

One of the artworks recovered by the Max Stern Art Restitution Project is the self-portrait of the painter Wilhelm von Schadow. On April 7th, 2014, the Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf returned the artwork, which had once belonged to Max Stern. The return of the painting marked a victory for the restitution project, but it also spurred a partnership between the city of Düsseldorf and the Max Stern Art Restitution Project. The city announced that a major exhibition on Max Stern’s life and legacy would launch in 2018 in Düsseldorf, where it would then tour to Haifa, Israel, and then Montreal.

Exterior of the Stadtmuseum Dusseldorf. Source.

On November 15th, 2017, after the exhibition had been in the works for over three years, the city of Düsseldorf announced the exhibition was cancelled. The reason provided for the abrupt cancellation was “current demands for information and restitution in German museums in connection with the Galerie Max Stern.”

Following the cancellation there was immediate outcry. Many commentators suggested the city was still fearful of returning artworks in their ownership, such as Wilhem von Schadow’s painting The Artist’s Children (1830), which previously hung in the mayor’s office and is now the subject of a restitution claim. Amidst the outcry, an announcement on December 21st, 2017: the city of Düsseldorf reversed the decision to cancel the exhibition.

Why is the restitution of Nazi-confiscated art still problematic today?

The saga of the Max Stern exhibit indicates that just as restitution was difficult in 1948, when Max Stern first sought the return of his artworks, it is still a challenge today. In theory, the restitution of Nazi-confiscated art is encouraged and adopted as best practice within museums, but the actual recovery of lost art becomes problematic when individuals and institutions with vested interest in the artworks are involved.

The fraught exhibition only emphasizes the importance of the Max Stern Art Restitution Project, as we are in need of organizations that fight for restorative justice to set the precedent for future restitution claims.

Friday, 18 May 2018

THE EVER ENDURING CASE OF TULIPMANIA

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

BY: CASARINA HOCEVAR

Abbotsford Tulip Festival, April 2018. Photo courtesy of Casarina Hocevar. 
This week marks the beginning of Ottawa’s famous annual Tulip Festival. So in celebration of Spring, our Flashback Friday will delve into the history and heritage of the tulip festival.

A little history…

In 1953, Ottawa hosted its first tulip festival at the suggestion of photographer Malak Karsh (brother of Yousuf Karsh). The choice of flower was symbolic: 100,000 tulip bulbs were given to Ottawa by the Netherlands at the end of WWII, as a gesture of thanks, friendship, and peace.

Throughout the Second World War, Ottawa hosted the Dutch royal family while the Netherlands faced invasion and occupation. Princess Juliana, who was the only child (and heir) to Queen Wilhelmina, gave birth to her daughter in the Ottawa Civic Hospital, in January 1943. Part of the hospital was given temporary “extraterritorial” status in the city, thus, allowing the newborn Princess Margriet Francisca to receive Dutch citizenship. The family remained in Ottawa for four years, until the Netherlands was liberated from Nazi forces in 1945.

Shortly after, Princess Juliana arranged the 100,000 bulbs to be given to the capital as a gift, with additional bulbs being sent each year after, known as “the Tulip Legacy.”

A little more history…

While Canadian-Dutch relations provide us a foundation for understanding the origins of Ottawa’s tulip festival, the contemporary craze for tulips isn’t particularly new.

Wood engraving by Conrad Gesner, 1561. Source.
In the 16th Century, tulips were introduced to the Dutch from the Ottoman Empire. Their vibrant colours and rarity sparked great interest. This interest soon became an obsessive fascination shared widely in Dutch society by the 1630s. The desire grew so intense that tulips became a form of currency, creating a unique economic bubble which drove the price of tulip bulbs to unreasonable ranges. Unsurprisingly, the “tulipmania” bubble broke near the end of the 1630s, resulting in a market crash.

As professor Anne Goldgar notes throughout her book, Tulipmania, the legacy of tulipmania has been written and researched about extensively in articles, novels, and plays, telling us of the enduring public fascination for tulipmania. Of course, the fascination in tulipmania’s legacy is not simply in the beauty of the flowers themselves, but in the way in which the flowers influenced a society so deeply.

From 17th Century Dutch markets to the 18th Century Ottoman court, tulips once again become an icon for luxury and consumption. During what was known as the Ottoman Empire’s Tulip Period - an era of economic growth and increased material consumption - tulips appeared in prints, textiles, paintings and throughout markets and gardens. And as with the Dutch tulipmania, tulips in the Ottoman empire also saw rocketing prices for bulbs and flower orders, until state regulation was enforced on the market. Once again, tulips proved to have a captivating essence...

16th Century Ottoman textile featuring tulip design. Source.

Contemporary tulipmania…

While today’s tulipmania has not caused any recent market crashes, it certainly seems to captivate the spaces and imaginations of social media users. Social media has certainly made it easier for flower festivals and their visitors to relish in the beauty a little longer. Below are some posts made by festivals organizers and visitors worldwide.

Tulip festivals across Canada:

Ottawa, ON: May 11th - 21st



Abbotsford, BC: April 9th - mid-May



Tulip festivals worldwide:

Keukenhof Holland, Netherlands: March 22nd - May 13th



Istanbul, Turkey: April 1st - 30th

A post shared by Evgeniya Yüksel (@jenny_xel) on


Holland, Michigan: May 5th - 13th

A post shared by Tulip Time Festival (@tulip_time) on


Srinagar, Kashmir, India: March 25th - April 15th

A post shared by Boy ate the world (@boy_ate_the_world) on


Tesselaar (Melbourne), Australia: October 8th - 14th

A post shared by #girlsthatwander (@girlsthatwander) on

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

ATTENTION ARCHAEOLOGISTS: (CAREFULLY) DROP EVERYTHING & LISTEN UP

CONSERVATION TIPS & TRICKS

BY: SELIN KAHRAMANOGLU



Raise your hand if you like digging skeletons and things out of the ground! Of course, I’m talking about wanting to excavate ancient tombs and uncover lost treasures.  

Did you know that the moment an object is found at an archaeological site, it undergoes conservation treatment? Archaeologists are the first line of defense when it comes to safeguarding the condition of artifacts. If you’re an Indiana Jones wannabe like me, then here are some tips that you should know...


1)   Learn About the Upcoming Weather Forecast 

Let’s say that you just finished a labouring summer day on an ancient Roman dig site. Your team is starting to pack up to go home for the day, when BAM, you find the edge of a skull peering out from the bottom of your trench. What do you do?

Your actions actually depend on the weather. Natural light and warm weather are considered the most favourable conditions. What about the rain and wind? Moisture in the soil can make the uncovered geographical layers unstable and dislodge artifacts.

Tip: Your artifact is safer in the ground. Typically, archeologists will use a tarp with weights (or large rocks) along the edges to cover artifacts that are still secured in the dirt.

2)   Label Everything

When you’ve got lots of objects coming out of the ground, it’s easy to lose track of exactly where and how they were found. At this point, you need to channel Monica Geller and get your label maker out.


Conservation is all about protecting the original. The last thing you want to do is damage the site or the object, and then never be able to fix it. Don’t forget these two basic steps to cover all your bases:
  • Break out your ruler and camera: Before taking it out of the ground, you need to measure where the object is in the trench, and in relation to the rest of the excavation site. Then, take lots of photo evidence.
  • Someone get this girl a bag: Clear plastic bags are your new best friend. They’re easy to write on, with the inside visible, and provide protection. Label the site code and the geological level!
3) Identify the Material and How to Safeguard It 

Remember that Roman skull you found? It’s made of bone. Here’s a little secret: Bone that is over a few hundred years old is not very strong. It breaks…really easily.

Depending on the material of the object uncovered, there are some things that you can do to keep the integrity of its structure until it’s ready for cleaning: 
  • Keep it in the ground for as long as you can: If the object survived that long in the dirt, it can last another couple of days. 
  • Until it’s cleaned, replicate the site conditions: Artifacts are fragile! Place them in a bin full of rice, and store that in a cool, dark place (to mimic dirt, but cleaner). 
  •  After it’s cleaned, get the data: Before you accidentally knock something over, weigh the object, get its measurements, and take lots of pictures of it. Then, analyze the data!
Tip: A museum conservator will want to know what the object looked like when you found it, in what conditions it was found, and how to keep it that way.


There you have it! Here’s some tips for you future Lara Crofts. Now you know the basics on how you can conserve the condition of an object that is fresh out of the ground!

Need further reading? Check out these websites:

Monday, 14 May 2018

ASKING FOR HELP, POWER TOOLS, AND MUSEUMS IN SPACE?

INTERNSHIP CHECK-IN

BY: KATHLEEN LEW

Ever wonder what Master of Museum Studies students are up to during the summer? Welcome to the first installment of the Internship Check-In series! Between the first and second year of the program, MMSt students complete internships at institutions across Canada and internationally. Read about their experiences through the following interviews.*

This post features:

Keelan Cashmore: The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, NL

Erica Chi: Art Museum, University of Toronto, ON

Maddy Howard: Archives of Ontario Art Collection, Toronto, ON

Tell us a bit about yourself and your museum-related interests.

Keelan: My name is Keelan and I am interning at The Rooms in St. John’s Newfoundland. I originally intended on pursuing a Master’s of Archaeology. However, during my undergraduate degree, I was an interpreter at Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum. Three years later, I was the assistant manager, and I had found something I adored. With museums, I am primarily interested in natural history and cultural heritage institutions. These institutions satisfy my interests in both pre-history and history. I’ve dabbled in collections, curation, visitor services, public programming, and education, and there are aspects about each that I enjoy! I am also interested in museums that push boundaries and present unconventional or controversial topics and ideas. I love that currently museums are pushing the envelope further, and I am thrilled to be a part of that.

Erica: Hello! My name is Erica Chi and I recently completed my first-year of the Master of Museum Studies program. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Art History with a minor in French Studies from the University of Guelph. Born and raised in Ottawa, I was surrounded by world-class galleries and museums that influenced my career path. I am passionate about the exploration of identities and cultures, which fuelled my travels abroad in Marseilles, France. I worked as an ESL teacher, learned a lot about myself, and ate way too many croissants. I am excited to work in the field of museology with a specialization in art collections management. This summer, I was hired by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto as a Collections Assistant.

Maddy: I am interested in anything and everything related to museums. I have volunteered and worked in museums since I was seven years old, but I am still constantly learning and adapting my understanding of museums. I am particularly interested in the increasing impact of technology in museum spaces, as well as the convergence of libraries, archives and museums. I am currently working towards a Masters in both Museum Studies and Archives and Records Management, so convergence has always interested me. I am also interested in other areas, such as repatriation, collaboration, and diversifying collections and exhibition spaces.

Maddy doing a condition report of an artwork installed at Macdonald Block, 900 Bay St
Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard. 

What is a typical day at your institution? What are your responsibilities?

Keelan: No two days are ever alike! Today, for example, I spent doing research, partaking in an exhibition meeting, and examining newspaper articles to determine why a primary source stated that a meeting was reaching its “boiling point”. Other days, I’ve completed tasks such as photographing and cataloging artifacts for an upcoming exhibition. Every day is different! My current responsibilities are researching various immigrant communities in St. John’s and helping with an exhibition opening in June. Each of these responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks. Depending on what needs to be finished, some days are more research-based, while others are more task-based. Generally, there’s a good divide between the two, and I get to partake in a multitude of endeavours each day.

Erica: At Art Museum, there is no typical day as the environment is always changing. Its 'all-hands-on-deck' approach allows several opportunities to help with various aspects of the museum. My internship focuses on the ‘Art on Campus’ (AOC) initiative, where Art Museum arranges art loans from its stewarded collections to different units across the University of Toronto. I am responsible for AOC administration, audits and inventories, site visits, condition reports, cataloguing, registration, and several other duties. However, based on the museum’s priorities, I participate in a multitude of permanent collection and incoming loan activities.

Maddy: My responsibilities at the Government of Ontario Art Collection vary. I am responsible for cleaning the artwork, inventory, assisting with shipment of artwork across the province, helping to install and uninstall works, as well as conducting additional research on artists and artwork in the collection. I am also responsible for assisting with loan agreements, creating reports, helping with exhibition preparations for the Fall, attending meetings, and occasionally attending events. These responsibilities are great because they involve hands-on experience and allow me to apply class material to the real world. This variety of tasks will expose me to different areas of the museum field and broaden my skillset. I also get to explore the city of Toronto and learn outside of the traditional and controlled environment of the collection.

What is something you have learned so far at your internship?

Keelan: I’ve learned how extensive the curatorial process is. It is interesting researching for an exhibition in its early stages compared to helping with an exhibition that opens in a month. For example, my research on communities in St. John’s is more extensive than I imagined for display in the exhibit; however, it is absolutely necessary. On the other end, seeing the curatorial process in action for the upcoming exhibition is an eye-opener. Throughout an exhibition meeting today, every aspect of the exhibition was scrutinized, images and objects were added and removed, text was changed, and layout was tweaked. It was incredible to see so many people working together to pull off a relatively small exhibition, and it really made me appreciate how much work goes into everything museum professionals do, especially in larger institutions such as The Rooms.

Erica: As we prepare for the upcoming exhibition, I witnessed all the hard work and patience involved with staging a museum for the public. During this time, I have mastered the skill of conditioning reporting. Sometimes it's tricky to condition report artworks since it’s possible that pieces could have "defects" inherent to manufacture. It becomes crucial to develop an eye for recognizing when an imperfection has accumulated over time. Fortunately, I intimately spend time with the artwork and as an art historian, this is the dream! Learning the provenance and life of these objects is so interesting when you allow them to metaphorically speak to you.

Maddy: The most important thing I have learned so far is how to use power tools! Even though it has only been a week, I feel like I’ve learned so much already. Going into this internship, I did not have any background in art, art history, or government. This means that every day I get to learn something new. So far, I have learned how to properly handle and care for the artwork, how to apply backings to the artwork, and how to install the pieces. Much of what I’ve learned so far is about how to move the artwork and how input information into the database.

 
Erica in front of Art Museum at the University of Toronto.
Photo Courtesy of Erica Chi. 
Have you found mentorship at your internship? What are the benefits of having mentors in the museum sector?

Keelan: I have absolutely found mentorship at my internship. My supervisor is incredible. She’s brilliant when it comes to curation, and every day I feel like I learn something new from her. I feel fortunate to have multiple mentors here. The individuals with whom I work are open to sharing their experiences and answering my many questions. It’s clear that as an intern, I’m not expected to know everything, and mistakes are okay to make. Generally, I don’t think one can be in the museum sector and not have mentors. The experience of physically being in a museum is quite different from learning in a classroom. Mentors are there to guide, advise, and teach us how to put the theoretical into practice. I also find that much of the learning in museums is mentor-based. To me, this makes mentorship and invaluable asset to museums.

Erica: Upon visiting the Art Museum for a class field trip, Heather Pigat spoke passionately about her work as a Collections Manager. I became enthralled with the possibility of working with the permanent collection and having her as a supervisor. She is an excellent mentor, with years of experience and expertise in various realms of the art world. One thing she emphasizes is the importance of knowing when to turn to others for resources, knowledge, and expertise; power and agency come with understanding your weaknesses and collaborating with others. As the African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Maddy: I have found a great mentor at my internship. My supervisor is a wealth of knowledge and is more than happy to help whenever I need it. She knows everything about the collection, the government, and the artwork. While the internship has only just started, I know that she will be an excellent mentor, and an incredible person to learn from. It is extremely important to have a mentor in the museum sector. A lot of what we learn in the classroom is useful for our future careers in the museum field. However, it is also beneficial to have an established mentor in the field that has a practical understanding of what is needed to succeed in our chosen careers. Mentors can help to guide us and bring our attention to areas that weren’t considered beforehand. Mentors can teach you so much that cannot be learned in a classroom and can provide real-world advice for prospective museum professionals.

What are you excited about accomplishing throughout your internship?


Keelan: I am excited to accomplish the creation and development of an exhibit! It will be interesting to see how different facets of museum work come together to create one exhibition. I’m generally excited to learn new skills and study new histories. As someone new to the east coast, I have a lot to learn over the remaining 11 weeks. I’m excited to see how much knowledge I can gain throughout my time here. Finally, I’m excited to see how I can apply the skills I learn here to other aspects of museums. Even if I do not work in curation, the skillset and experiences I’ll gain will be valuable assets when working in different institutions.

Erica: As an ongoing project with my predecessors at the Art Museum, I am excited to contribute to the longevity of the collections by consolidating various records. Preservation and exhibition of art collections are essential to share knowledge, cultural narratives, and access for future generations. I hope to obtain practical skills and valuable experience in this environment to further understand how museums function and how I can play a contributing role.

Maddy: The thing that I am most excited about accomplishing throughout the internship is the project happening at the Legislative Building in Queen’s Park. I am helping to inventory and clean the artwork, but also with the upcoming election, there is artwork that will need to be moved around. I am most excited about this project because it is a chance to get out of the usual museum setting, and work with the challenges that we will face in regard to dealing with a busy public building. This internship provides many exciting projects and opportunities, but I am most excited about the work that will be happening downtown.

 
Keelan with her pile of research at the The Rooms!
Photo Courtesy of Keelan Cashmore.
If you could create any museum (no matter how ridiculous) what kind of museum would it be?

Keelan: I’m a huge fan of immersive experiences. I think it would be fun to create a space museum… in space! Imagine learning about different aspects of the universe by seeing them up close and personal. Want to learn about Mars? Let’s go to Mars! As a child I was fascinated by space, and I think it would be neat to get to experience the universe the same way I experienced dinosaur bones or ancient cultures – through museums. Obviously, planetariums and science centres exist, but being able to physically be in space, learning about Saturn while standing on Saturn, would be unique and unforgettable.

Erica: I loooooove food (and who doesn’t)! My dream museum would serve different cultural dishes and provide the history behind it. Cuisine is such an integral component of culture and identity; it is so interesting to learn how certain dishes have evolved over time through exposure of various external influences. Both educational and delicious, it also has the potential to be extremely aesthetically pleasing. I’m drooling thinking about this museum now.

Maddy: Something related to space, definitely! I love museums and I love space, so why not combine the two? I love reading and watching films about space, so a museum solely focused on space would be amazing. I would want to include fact and fantasy, especially some conspiracy theories, because how can you have a museum about space without aliens? Ideally the museum would be in space, but that’s probably a job for future museum professionals.

*These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.