During my time as an intern at the Art Museum of WVU, I have been able to handle objects ranging from pottery of the Korean Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. 935 A.D.) to contemporary ceramics. I have also worked with art pieces from the Leonhart collection, which includes African jewelry, masks, and ritual figures. My Spring 2014 internship with the Museum Registrar is primarily focused on rehousing these items in the museum collection. I learned about different materials, risks, and methods for museum storage. Rehousing objects in the museum collection has involved storing objects in unbuffered archival boxes with acid-free tissue paper, batting, and ethafoam. I make sure that items are safely packed with labels denoting their specific object number. I also label the outside of the boxes with pictures of all the objects inside. This will allow someone to more easily find items in the collection.
Many of the objects I rehoused were formerly stored in yellowing boxes with degrading packaging. The objects were also packed for storage and not intended for a move. This collection will be moving within the next year into the new museum building next to the current Museum Education Center on the Evansdale campus of WVU. This project allows the museum to evaluate items in its collection. I note the condition of the pieces so that any conservation needs for the objects can be entered into the museum database. Hopefully this project will continue with new interns so that more artworks in the collection will be safely housed for the long-term.
History major and Art History minor, West Virginia University
Sarah K. Moore
Enrique Chagoya, “Tabula Nova” from “You are Here (in collaboration with Alberto Rios)”, 52/60, Color Lithograph and rubber stamp on paper, 17” x 17”; Collection of the Art Museum of WVU, Myers Foundations Purchase Fund, Image courtesy of the Segura Arts Studio at the University of Notre Dame.
As an intern at the Art Museum of WVU, I have the privilege of working with art objects up close. One of the activities I do with the Museum Registrar is catalog new additions to the Museum’s collections. Working with art objects firsthand is thrilling, because each piece is embedded with history. When accessioning new works, I have to closely examine the art for its context. Obvious information, like the date of creation or edition of a print, is often included with the artist’s signature. There is something wonderful about reading the artist’s own notes about a sketch or painting. Sometimes a painting’s history is revealed through various gallery and exhibition labels. Often, the condition of a print or drawing can give clues to how it was stored or used. For example, a sketch may have thumbtack holes in the corners, showing that it was once pinned up in a classroom or studio. The ability of an object to speak its history to the viewer is my favorite part of handling art directly. While in museums, paintings are hung on walls and dictating how the work may be viewed, so much can be learned about a piece by examining at the other side of the canvas or investigating the painting inch by inch.
There is no feeling like being the first to unwrap and handle a new acquisition by the Museum. I had the opportunity to be the first to handle a new Enrique Chagoya print portfolio. Chagoya is one of my favorite artists collected by the museum, and his portfolio “You Are Here” in collaboration with poet Alberto Rios, is fascinating for its meditation on the intersection of humanity and mapping. Through six prints, Chagoya and Rios appropriate and manipulate familiar visuals, such as genome sequences, maps, and geometric theorems. Their work in “You Are Here” evidences the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary art making. Science, geography, poetry, and visual arts combine to create a portfolio that expressively investigates identity in connection to place. While “You Are Here” is waiting in an archival flat file cabinet, I hope that it will soon be shared with the West Virginia University community when the museum opens.
Art History major, West Virginia University
Given the current instability of the job market, the task of selecting a major with a positive outlook might appear daunting. Of course, the most the vital criterion is choosing what you truly love.
I am proud to say that I have been an Art History major since I began taking classes. When I tell others my major, the common response is: “So you are going to teach?”. My reply has always been no, even when I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my degree. Thankfully, the professors and staff in the College of Creative Arts presented the wide variety of potential career paths. It was not until I gained experience in an interactive learning environment that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. The facility that provided me with this opportunity was and continues to be the Art Museum of West Virginia University.
Last spring semester, I began as a volunteer given the task of organizing documents that once belonged to an artist. My supervisor, the Museum Registrar, then encouraged me to apply for an internship at a Baltimore museum, for which I was later selected. Upon my return, I was provided with more duties, such as processing newly acquired objects and preparing the artwork to be displayed to visiting classes. It is one experience to study art in the classroom by looking at a photograph of a work of art, but when you get to see pieces by artists in person that you talk about in class on a daily basis, it is as sweet as being a kid in a candy store.
Of course, it is more than just the art that makes the museum so appealing. The facility has provided me with knowledge of how the different departments come together to create a single museum with a unified cause. I have gained numerous mentors, who are kind enough to help me achieve my own goals. Certainly no relationship is perfect though. There is only one way that the museum has ever disappointed me, so to speak, which is that the new museum will not be finished until after I graduate. Although, that just gives me a perfect reason to visit.
Art History major, West Virginia University