Fall 2012: Intern Avery Boyd works in the permanent collection

Our Fall 2012 Collection intern was undergraduate art history major Avery Boyd. Avery worked with registrar Carla Shelton to create object files for the permanent collection, helped prepare objects for storage, and along with the museum staff helped the OSU Student Union assess the status and condition of its art collection, which has recently returned from storage after the renovation and expansion of the Union building. Before coming to the OSU Museum of Art, Avery completed a summer internship at the Philbrook Museum, in Tulsa, OK.

Avery at work in the OSUMA offices.

Fall 2012 intern Avery Boyd at work in the OSUMA offices.

Working within a museum environment is interesting to say the least, because there are so many inner operations. There are people talking with art donors, other interns working on their own individual projects, curators planning the layout of the next exhibition, registrars keeping up with the pieces to make sure they are all safely in place and constantly dealing with outside constraints from donors, lenders, and others within the system. Obviously there are other systems in place, however I was not present within those in this museum. Along with the fixed work to be done, there are also complications that arise, such as a piece not being delivered on time, a lender making a new specification as to how the piece is to be treated, a piece in an exhibition getting damaged, a lost piece, or something as simple as a lost file. The operations of a museum are not as simple or smooth as they seem from the outside, and those who have worked within the museum structure understand that every employee works tirelessly at their job.

Fall 2012 intern Avery Boyd made hundreds of files—literally!—for the objects in our collection.

Fall 2012 intern Avery Boyd made hundreds of files—literally!—for the objects in our collection.

For the duration of my internship I was tasked with the project of completing the filing system for the inventory of the collection.  OSU had just recently updated its system in order to make it more organized. This involved creating over a thousand files, each of which represent a piece in the collection, which are organized by an accession number that makes it easier to identify objects. Each file is there so that any pictures or important documents that relate to a piece can be kept in its specific file. This makes it easy for anyone within the museum to access the data of a piece within the collection.

Although it isn't the most glamorous part of collection work, creating and maintaining files for each object in the collection is a critical part of the museum's mission to document and make available for research the objects in our collection.

Although it isn’t the most glamorous part of collection work, creating and maintaining files for each object in the collection is a critical part of the museum’s mission to document and make available for research the objects in our collection.

I also helped prepare pieces to be stored by properly packaging them within plastic wrappings. Packaging pieces like this keeps them from damage inflicted by water or pests. Along with packaging pieces, I was able to go through some pieces that had been stored in the Union and do condition reports as well as document as many details I could find about them so that that information could be stored in the museum’s database. This involved fully evaluating the piece by looking all around it and its frame for damage such as holes, paint chips, water damage, chemical damage, or bug damage. I also had to take pictures of the pieces and try to locate a title and artist for the piece. Getting to work hands on with the pieces and see the work up close was the best part of the internship, because I could see the fine details that the artists had put into their work.

Fall 2012 intern Avery Boyd preparing the permanent collection for temporary storage and eventual transfer to the new Postal Plaza Gallery downtown.

Fall 2012 intern Avery Boyd preparing the permanent collection for temporary storage and eventual transfer to the new Postal Plaza Gallery downtown.

This is why it was such a pleasure and privilege to get to intern at the Oklahoma State Museum of Art this Fall Semester. Not only did I meet some great people who are great at their jobs and love art, but I got to work hands on with it and learn how to properly handle it.

Each semester, the OSUMA offers three undergraduate internship positions. Applications for these positions are announced on the museum’s website.

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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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