Developing a new exhibit and program for a world-renowned museum is a dream for a museum graduate student! This is exactly what I had the opportunity to accomplish this summer at Gilcrease Museum. Education has always been a passion of mine and coming from a public school teacher background, I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with the education staff at Gilcrease. It just so happened that during a class in spring semester I wrote a grant for an education internship at the museum. I was chosen for the position and began working in June.
I was tasked with planning an outdoor exhibition of Gilcrease masterworks for the University of Tulsa campus. This is not something that I had direct experience doing before, so it was a valuable learning experience! The idea for the outdoor exhibition came from other exhibits seen in the United States, and part of the internship involved researching these exhibitions and museums. This research led me to discover new opportunities for museum and community engagement.
The two museum exhibits that I researched were the Inside Out program from the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) and an outdoor exhibit created by the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain and presented in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They are two very different approaches to outside exhibits that offered helpful insight into how to implement a similar program at Gilcrease. Inside Out includes over 150 art reproductions from DIA installed in local Detroit metro communities. Each community wishing to host the artwork must apply to be a part of the program. Communities can select 8-10 works of art for their communities. These freestanding or building mounted reproductions are installed within biking or walking distance from one another. The community members are responsible for keeping an eye on the installations and reporting any damage and any programing related to the exhibit. The museum offers resources, but most of the responsibility is on the community members.
The Prado in Santa Fe is put together a bit different. This exhibit consists of 92 full scale replicas of the Museo del Prado’s greatest works printed on double sided vinyl panels displayed on metal stands to be displayed in the open, rather than within the walls of a museum.
Creating a new exhibition means understanding the audiences and the stakeholders that will be served. Through this process I met a lot of people and was exposed to all kinds of perspectives that comprise a museum. I explored every facet of the museum that would have an input in putting together an outdoor exhibition including curators, exhibit team members, marketing, rights and reproduction, and development. I gained insight into the role that each position plays is developing exhibits and programs.
From there, I created a timeline, staffing plan, logistic plan, and a sample budget for the exhibit. This part of the internship was helpful because I had never created such a comprehensive plan before. The last part of the project was to obtain actual quotes for the cost to fabricate an exhibit for Gilcrease. I worked with local businesses to find the best quote. In the end, the final design turned out very similar to the Prado model.
My final task was to compile all of my research into a presentation and exhibit plan that will be easily implemented if it were to get funded. I gave a presentation to the museum director and department leads to share my hard work. Throughout the summer I met new people, developed new skills, and found a passion for bringing the museum experience to the community in new and innovative ways. The overall experience is invaluable to me, and I will utilize all the skills I’ve learned in my future career.
Museum Science and Management Student Angie Williams