Spring 2012: Intern Sara Roberts creates artist files

Three interns were working with the OSU Museum of Art staff this spring: Amy Sawyer, Natalie Hardesty, and this week’s author, Sara Roberts. Sara is a junior art history major with experience in graphic design and philanthropy. This summer she is a recipient of the prestigious Katzenberger Foundation Art History Internship at the Smithsonian Institution. Sara will work at the National Museum of American History on a project entitled, “Examination and Identification of Media and Printing Techniques used in Illustrations from the Little Golden Books, 1942-1960.” Her internship at the OSUMA this spring involved researching artists in the permanent art collection, correcting and updating data and creating physical files for each artist. In addition, she undertook a research project that identified and documented artists who have taught at OSU throughout its history.

From start to finish, my experience as an OSU Museum student intern has allowed me to gain valuable hands on experience and an overall heightened perspective of a museum environment. I was assigned to create basic artist files for all artists within the permanent collection. This process began with tasks such as ordering labels and files and required continued research until the end of the semester.

Spring 2012 intern Sara Roberts putting completed files in our registration office.

Throughout the process of creating these folders, research was key to my initial creation of the files themselves and especially to obtaining any and all basic information about the artists. A single file label contains the artist’s name, country of origin and birth/death dates. This information is difficult to find for many not well-known artists. These tasks reiterated the importance of attention to detail and persistence (when searching).

When choosing a focus within this project, I decided to research the Oklahoma State University faculty who have been, at some point, a part of the art department since its inception (those for whom we have records). This project is one which has never been done and, therefore, required organization and coordination with administration to obtain certain records. I started by creating similar files for these faculty members. My primary source for obtaining information was museum scrapbooks, which document the art department history for many years, dating back as far as the 1940’s. A majority of these artist faculty files now contain a substantial amount of ephemeral and biographical material gained from the various scrapbooks.

From the original article: This large room, huddled under the bleachers of Lewis Stadium, and looking something akin to a combination automobile shop and scrap salvage yard, is one of the largest and best equipped sculpture studios in an eight-state area. 12 hrs of sculpting are offered, with the shop equipped to handle work in bronze, aluminum, iron, plaster, wood, and concrete.

In addition to the files themselves, I created a simple artist file template that can hopefully be used to eventually unify all the files with the added accumulation of biographical information. Knowing the scope of this project, it was my goal at the onset to hopefully leave an overall foundation of records, which didn’t previously exist and that can easily be expanded upon.

Over the course of her internship, Sara made hundreds of files!

The OSU Museum of Art offers a very unique and enriching experience to all interns. Due to the progress and growth occurring, not only is it an exciting environment to be a part of but also one that is full of opportunity. Because it is developing, I feel there are more significant challenges and experiences available to students – this makes the ability to learn tenfold. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Art Department Head, Chris Ramsay, and my Internship Coordinator, Dr. Louise Siddons, for their guidance and support throughout the semester. Also, thank you to the museum and administrative staff!


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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