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Hands On Art: The Life of a Curatorial Intern

Posted June 19, 2014 in Classes & Presentations

Guest blogger and MFA student Brianna Baurichter shares the ins and outs of her experience as a curatorial intern at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

When I first decided to come to KCAD to pursue my MFA last spring, I knew right away that I would have to dive in well before I arrived and find places to gain experience. So over the summer I started searching for internships at various galleries, organizations, and museums in Grand Rapids. The process involved a ton of research, emails, phone calls, and drafts of my cover letter, but I knew that if I kept at it, my hard work would pay off.

Brianna BaurichterBrianna Baurichter (image courtesy of the Grand Rapids Art Museum)

Oddly enough, the one place that I thought I would have the hardest time getting into – the Grand Rapids Art Museum – was actually the easiest to apply to. The GRAM has an awesome website with multiple internship, work, and volunteer opportunities listed with links to the applications, helpful tips, and answers to any questions you might have. I filled everything out, sent it in, and crossed my fingers.

After a very informative and comfortable talk with both the chief curator and the curatorial assistant, I waited just a few more days before getting offered the position of curatorial intern. Since starting in the fall, I have been able to work with different artists, including two KCAD alums, to help coordinate and set up their shows, and I even got to help out during ArtPrize 2013. Working in the curatorial department has given me a unique insights into the kind of research curators have to do in preparation for a show, how museums with large-scale collections manage their inventory, and the process of fielding all kinds of artwork and offers to the museum.

GRAM show curated by Brianna Baurichter"Hyperreal to Abstract: The States of Watercolor," a show curated by Baurichter for the Grand Rapids Art Museum (credit: Brianna Baurichter)

I also had an amazing opportunity to organize a show on my own that drew from the museum’s extensive collections of prints, drawings, and photographs. I had to create a proposal and outline to present to GRAM’s curatorial staff, and once it was approved, utilize the exhibition management I learned during my undergraduate studies to curate the space, prepare the room, and write the curatorial statement. My show, Hyperreal to Abstract: The States of Watercolor, presented works by 20th century American artists that demonstrate the versatility of expression found in watercolor.

books artwork"Hyperreal to Abstract: The States of Watercolor," a show curated by Baurichter for the Grand Rapids Art Museum (credit: Brianna Baurichter)

Over the recent winter break, I was also asked me to help out with the preliminary work for an upcoming show. I accompanied my boss on a mission to discover the best work from the late artist, Reynold Weidenaar, who at one time was a professor of Printmaking at KCAD. His daughter has all of his amazing work in a storage unit, and I got to go through it piece by piece, literally holding his art in my bare hands. I even found one of his old sketchbooks with a hand drawn KCAD flag on it!

books artworkGallery at Studio Art Centers International in Italy, where Baurichter is currently studying abroad and working as a gallery intern (credit: Brianna Baurichter)

For the month of March I was selected by my boss as volunteer of the month and was photographed for the newsletter with a fun questionnaire. I am currently studying abroad in Italy at Studio Art Centers International, where I’m also working as a gallery intern, but as much fun as I’m having overseas, I can’t wait to get back and continue my adventures at the GRAM for the rest of the summer! In the life of a curatorial intern, you never know what you might discover next.

For more information about intership opportunties offered by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, visit artmuseumgr.org/about/internships.


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