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 Audrey (American Studies & French ’25) to learn more about why The Block is part of her Northwestern Direction.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your field of study?
I am a third-year undergraduate student from Dublin, Ohio, pursuing an American Studies major and a French minor. I am also a member of the Northwestern cross country team, so you might catch me running around the lakefill during practice! Two of my main interests are history and art, so I am very excited to be working with the Block Museum. I am an artist myself; I love to draw or shoot film photos in my free time. My other hobbies include playing music: violin, guitar, piano; and video games.
What sparked your interest in museums?
I have always enjoyed visiting museums, but stepping into the museum industry for my professional development is a new endeavor for me. When thinking about my career path, I delved into what would allow me to combine my interests and integrate skills I have gained from my time at Northwestern, such as improved research and writing. Ultimately, I discovered the world of museums and curation and I am so glad I did.
What particularly interests you about learning and researching within the context of a campus art museum?
Working and learning within this context provides the opportunity to engage with my peers at Northwestern as well as the Evanston community as a whole. Additionally, I am interested in the way we think about art and how we can encourage conversation concerning courses and topics relevant to our student body.
What drew you to The Block Museum? What are you looking forward to working on?
My first time visiting the Block was with my French poetry class last winter where we analyzed a poem portfolio by Octavio Paz. I enjoyed the experience of engaging with art in discussion with our course content and it inspired me to learn more about academic museums and the Block Museum in particular. Now as an intern, I have the opportunity to learn behind the scenes! Currently, curatorial intern Kelsey Carroll and I are working with curator Essi Rönkkö researching potential artists for the 2023-2024 student acquisition, which is a lot of fun. I am looking forward to seeing this project through, as well as writing my own collection spotlight blog posts in the future!
What museum exhibitions or programs (outside the Block) have inspired you lately?
In the spring, I visited the Van Gogh and the Avant-Garde: The Modern Landscape exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. I loved the presentation of the exhibit; the way the artworks followed a timeline accompanied by information about how each painter developed their particular style made the experience more immersive. Primarily, the exhibit made me even more excited to learn about curation at the Block Museum.
Is there anything upcoming at the Block Museum or Northwestern you are particularly excited about?
Recently, I attended the open house celebration for Rosalie Favell’s Indigenous Artists Facing the Camera and it made me eager to explore more upcoming events at the Block. I am particularly excited about the Block cinema showings this fall, specifically the presentation of Mexican Animation, American Propaganda, and the Cold War (1952-56) on November 2nd. As an American Studies student (who also loves animation), I am motivated to learn about this piece of history!
What are your upcoming goals for your role?
In my role as a curatorial intern, I hope to learn from museum professionals about how they came into their careers as well as what their workdays entail. Additionally, I want to gain skills that are critical to museum work, such as art handling, archiving, and research. The research component is significant for me because it allows the opportunity to assist in the acquisition of art, which I hope to share and help spark conversation and reflection in the Northwestern and Evanston communities.