My name is Kelly Johnson and I am a Curatorial Practice MFA candidate graduating in 2015. This summer i did my internship at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I found out about this internship as an undergraduate, while doing a general online search for paid museum internships. I bookmarked the link for future reference, and when I decided to move to Baltimore, I sent an inquiry email to the intern coordinator asking about expectations, then applied for it ahead of the deadline.
Founded in 1987, NMWA is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing
women’s creative contributions. By bringing to light remarkable women artists of the past while
also promoting the best women artists working today, the museum directly addresses the
gender imbalance in the presentation of art in the U.S. and abroad, thus assuring great women
artists a place of honor now and into the future. The museum organizes exhibitions and
programming related to women artists, contemporary and past; coordinates traveling exhibitions;
maintains a research library dedicated to women artists, specializing in artists’ books; and works
with committees across the world to develop special events related to the collection and
My direct supervisors were Elizabeth Lynch, Editor and Director of Publications, and Amy
Mannarino, Director of Marketing and Communications. Elizabeth develops all the printed
materials for the museum including brochures, catalogs, fliers, etc. Amy handles public relations
and develops marketing materials and official communications for press outlets.
My responsibilities included researching and compiling online articles for weekly “Women in the
Arts” newsletters to the museum staff and other museum affiliated persons. For marketing/communications projects, I tracked museum press in print and through an online database, researched pitch contacts for upcoming exhibitions, reviewed and edited press materials and images, and uploaded event content to online calendars. For publications, I researched and wrote 6 blog posts featuring contemporary artists in their current video exhibition, researched image sources for an upcoming online exhibition, and researched and wrote content for the fall magazine, including exhibition listings, and a book review. I also assisted in reviewing and editing the forthcoming Picturing Mary catalog.
I am most proud of the blog posts I wrote for the museum , developing my networking skills with arts
professionals at the museum and beyond, and learning new tips and tricks for writing/editing,
marketing, and professional communication skills.
The most important thing I have learned from my internship is the importance of communication
styles and attention to details. The opportunity to ask questions about how to relate to other
professionals as an editor and as a curator have been invaluable. I have also picked up some
PR and writing tips from my supervisors which I will carry with me into future projects. Overall, it
has been a big confidence builder, which I really needed!
This experience has reminded me that I thrive on structure. While my program focuses a lot oncurating outside of an institution, ideally I would like to work in a small museum or gallery similar to NMWA, because it is small enough so that people have to work between departments to accomplish their goals, but large enough that funding and press are not a struggle. It has also reminded me of my passion for writing, which I hope to pursue more seriously following this internship, perhaps as a freelance writer or perhaps at an arts publication. After speaking with several coworkers, I realize I am in the right place educationally and professionally, and that if I continue to pursue the path I am on—leaning toward contemporary art, community engagement, and writing—I should be able to find my niche. Additionally: these small assignments required to receive academic credit have been great for reflecting on my time here and encouraging me to track what I’m learning and to ask for informational with other professionals. I might not have done many of those things on my own.