Art galleries establish new internship programs

Four undergraduate students will be able to participate in new research internships at the Yale University Art Gallery and Center for British Art for the 2006-2007 academic year.

The internships are being funded by an endowment established by Henry and Nancy Horton Bartels in 2005, which also funds summer internships at Yale and off-site art museums. Student interns will conduct research while learning the details of museums and curatorial department operations at both the British Art Center and the Art Gallery, said Pamela Franks, curator of academic initiatives at the YUAG. Applications for next year’s program are due on April 14, she said.

“The internship positions allow students to work closely with curatorial staff on research projects,” Franks said.

Franks said the YUAG currently hires student tour guides on a volunteer basis but does not have any research-based positions for Yalies during the school year. Interns in the new program will work in a number of departments — ranging from Photography to American Decorative Arts — for 10 hours per week with an hourly stipend. A committee made up of staff from both museums, faculty and representatives from Yale College will select the interns, Franks said.

Franks said the committee will be looking for students with good academic credentials and classes related to their interests in art.

“Having an interest in pursuing an art museum career is also a plus,” Franks said.

She said the internships are an extension of current internships available over the summer at the two art museums. The summer internships are traditionally very competitive, with many students coming in as studio art or classics majors, Franks said.

The internships are funded by the Bartels, who both attended Cornell University. As current residents of New Haven, Franks said, they have put their energy into making internships available for students interested in the arts.

“They are interested in developing the intellectual potential of Yale undergraduates in the arts, and they have a deep passion in the arts themselves,” Franks said.

Aja Armey, a coordinator at the Art Gallery, said there are several other programs aimed at exposing undergraduates to the art world.

“There are all different levels of involvement,” Armey said.

Armey, who helps run the gallery guide program, said student volunteers select new members who give thematic tours of the gallery. A information session for next year’s guide program will be held on April 13, she said.

Catherine Sellers, a staff intern at the art gallery, said the new program will benefit students looking to launch a career in the art world.

“It helps to have a paid internship which shows a concrete, meaty experience to graduate schools or your first employer,” Sellers said.

Sellers said interns will work with curators to catalog collections, conduct object-based research, and prepare exhibits.

Interns will also participate in projects for the British Art Center, including research on the painting techniques of Thomas Lawrence and work on a major traveling exhibition on British tourism in Naples scheduled for 2010.

Garrett Wong ’09 said the new internships sound enticing because of the hands-on experience they provide.

“I think it’s good because you get experience from a curator, so if you want to work in a museum, you will get direct experience and advice,” Wong said. “It’s like you’re an apprentice, so you learn from them.”

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