The Block Museum is proud to continue its paid internship program by welcoming two Undergraduate Interns for the AY23-24 year, Kelsey Carroll and Audrey Bannister. As part of the Block Museum of Art internship program, our students conduct directed research on works of art in the permanent collection, assist with curatorial research, and work with our collection database. All Block interns participate in a Museum Seminar series in which they meet regularly with museum staff members for discussion and a behind-the-scenes look at museum careers.
We sat down with Kelsey (Art History & Journalism ’24) to learn more about why The Block is part of her Northwestern Direction.
Can you tell us a bit about your study so far at Northwestern?
I’m a fourth-year undergraduate from Dallas, Texas, studying art history and journalism. I’ve taken art history courses across so many time periods and places that I find it hard to keep track, so I’d say my interests lie in simply learning as much as I can about anything I can! However, after studying abroad in Florence (to see how many museums one can possibly visit in 3.5 months), I definitely have an affinity for both medieval and early Renaissance works, as well as all things Italian modern art. I am also interested in archival studies and art librarianship, so I enjoy the nitty-gritty and behind-the-scenes of museum work.
What sparked your interest in museums?
I grew up frequenting Dallas’ numerous art museums, and in fourth grade, I had already found myself competing in extracurricular art history contests to quell my desire to study any and all artworks and artists. After enrolling in an art history course in my senior year of high school, I became thoroughly obsessed with the subject, and it only felt natural to pursue museums as a way to share my love of art history with others. From that point on, I never doubted that working with art museums would (hopefully) lie in my future. This past summer, I worked as the Marketing and Communications Intern at The Frick Collection, and I fell in love with being part of the team that helps museums share art with as many people as possible.
What particularly interests you about learning and researching within the context of a campus art museum?
As an art history major, I’ve taken a couple classes in The Block. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning in the context of an art museum, especially in Michael Metzger’s Media Archaeologies of Art and Science course. In this class, we had the opportunity to visit The Block’s exhibition The Heart’s Knowledge and use the exhibition’s works in our class discussions and research. I loved seeing the way The Block’s exhibition blended perfectly with the course curriculum. It opened my eyes to how having an art museum on campus could substantially elevate my undergraduate career. I am excited to be part of a team at such an engaging museum for students across majors and programs that has impacted my college career in so many ways!
Assisting with research for upcoming exhibitions and acquisitions with a focus on how students may learn from or interact with a work of art at The Block is a unique opportunity that I can’t wait to dive into.
What drew you to The Block Museum? What are you looking forward to working on?
Many of my favorite works of art are prints, so I am especially excited to work with The Block’s amazing collection of prints, drawings, and photographs. With works ranging from the 1400s to the present day, I know I’ll have a unique ability at The Block to study prints across expansive timespans and make connections between centuries in a way that would not be possible in other collections. I’m particularly interested in looking into prints made after the development of photography and the ways in which printmaking as a practice has changed since this point. I know The Block is the perfect place for such deep dives. I’m excited to assist curator Corinne Granof on research for upcoming exhibitions, as well as pursuing my own research on individual works of art in The Block’s permanent collection!
What museum exhibitions or programs (outside the Block) have inspired you lately?
One of the first things on my list for the fall quarter was making it to the Art Institute. Two of its current exhibitions excited me and made me more eager to start at The Block! Among Friends and Rivals: Caravaggio in Rome contains Caravagggio’s Cardsharps, on loan from the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. The Kimbell was (and still is) my hometown museum, whose collection I think I could list from memory, and seeing one of their works as soon as I got to school left me anxious to see where my senior year would take me. Additionally, Remedios Varo: Science Fictions highlighted one of my favorite artists, who I have previously studied, alongside fellow Surrealists Leonora Carrington and Dorothea Tanning. Her works are enchanting and always leave me in awe, and I know I’ll be back to the Art Institute to see it again before it closes!
Is there anything upcoming at the Block Museum or Northwestern you are particularly excited about?
One of my first projects this fall at the Block has been working alongside curatorial intern Audrey Bannister and curator Essi Rönkkö on researching potential artists for the 2023-2024 student acquisition, and we will soon get to share our findings with this year’s Block Museum Student Associates in hopes of acquiring work from one of the artists we explored! I am excited to see where our study takes us, and I have already been wowed by each artist I’ve researched.
What are your upcoming goals for your role?
Interning at The Block this year has allowed me to pursue research on artists whose work I have since become passionate about. I know I’ll study so much more that will inspire and intrigue me going forward. I am eager to develop these research skills through numerous projects, whether it be preliminary research on new exhibition ideas or diving into a specific artist’s work in The Block’s permanent collection. I hope to gain practical skills in cataloging and database management that I can take with me after graduation. Some of my upcoming projects involve utilizing The Block’s permanent collection files, art handling and gaining a deeper understanding of the roles the curatorial department undertakes. I am thrilled to gain these skills so early in my art history career!