Fall 2011: Intern Caitlin Smith on working with the OSU Art Collection

Last semester we had three interns working with the OSUMA: Skylar Smith, Christina Naruszewicz, and today’s author, Caitlin Smith. Caitlin, a senior Art History major, has been active in the program in a variety of ways. Last year she curated an exhibition of vinyl toys from her personal collection in conjunction with my course, “Art Since 1960,” and for three semesters she has been president of the Art History Organization, which creates art history-related programming for students at OSU and organizes professionalization experiences for majors. In today’s post, Caitlin shares some thoughts about her OSUMA internship experience.

Interning for the in-progress OSU Museum of Art was a useful and positive experience for me. My first project was to research a little-known artist found in the OSU archives, Jacques Hans Gallrein. Very little is known about the local landscape artist, so research did become challenging at times. Regardless, the end result was very rewarding, especially considering that my work may be the jumping off point in the future for someone interested in the OSU archives!

Jacques Hans Gallrein, "Miniature Falls #2," 1941. Oil on canvas, gift of Michael A. and Lucille Graham.

Our collection of Gallrein’s work is very comprehensive, spanning much of his life and including paintings, sketches, newspaper clippings, recorded interviews, journals, and original manuscripts. Becoming as familiar with an artist’s breadth of work as I did is an experience that would be appreciated by any art history student, especially those interested in archival work.

Jacques Hans Gallrein, "The Hush of Evening," 1974. Oil on canvas, gift of Michael A. and Lucille Graham.

The second half of my semester was spent working closely with the Harms Collection of African Art. After being on display in the Gardiner Art Gallery this summer, the Harms Collection needed to be re-catalogued and have detailed condition reports of each piece made. This was my favorite part of the internship! I had ample opportunity to explore the Harms Collection, handling (very carefully) the pieces and getting to know them intimately as I reported on the condition of wear and tear of each work. I also helped with other cataloguing details such as values, accession numbers, titles, etc., but the condition reports were definitely the highlight.

Dogon, Walu mask, 20th century. Wood and other natural materials, gift of Larry W. and Mattie R. Harms.

Working with the staff of the budding OSU Museum of Art was rewarding, while also providing experience that will be very useful to me in what I hope to be my workplace. I recommend interning for the knowledge you can gain, which goes beyond just having another bullet point on your resume!

Curator’s note: several of Gallrein’s paintings, from the collection, can be seen hanging in Murray Hall, on the OSU campus.

About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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