My name is Christy Chong, and I am a senior General Fine Arts Major. Throughout my time at MICA, I have had several field trips to the American Visionary Art Museum, and it soon became one of my favorite places to visit. During my last visit in Spring 2013, I asked Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, the founder and director of AVAM, if there were any internship opportunities available for the summer. After applying for positions at the development, education, and media departments and submitting my resume and cover letter, I had a chance to be interviewed and ended up with an internship in the development department.
AVAM is a non-profit organization that educates and focuses on art produced by self taught individuals, who usually have no formal training in the arts. I worked alongside Abigail Baer, head of the development department. She took care of all the details that go behind running a museum and many opportunities to help with a little bit of everything. I helped her keep track of grant sponsorship, attendance, groupons, filing, surveys, different events at the museum, etc. Because AVAM has a small staff, everyone helped one another out. I sometimes assisted the education office with a few projects, like creating trophies for Pet Parade, revamping Baby Fifi, painting the sidewalk mural inspired by the Star Spangled Banner right outside of the museum, and Flicks every Thursday night.
Interning at AVAM was such an interesting and fun experience. I learned so much about the technical details that go into maintaining a museum but was also able to use my artistic ability to help out with many hands on projects too. Although I am not the most tech-savvy person, I learned how to use the different databases and computer programs in order to keep track of certain things, forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone. My organization skills and technological capability have improved as a result of this internship, and I am taking away the importance of team work and an open mind. Running a museum, especially one as unique as AVAM, where new tasks and activities are constantly presented requires a lot of cooperation, communication, and flexibility from all staff members. This internship has equipped me with a better understanding of non-profit organizations and arts administration. Interning at AVAM has clarified my desire to work a job that is more hands on, and I’ve realized that I may want to pursue a Master’s degree in arts administration if I plan on pursuing a career in this field.