Thursday, November 24, 2016

Freer and Sackler Galleries



My name is Margaret Huey. I'm a rising senior illustration major with a Culture and Politics minor. For the summer of 2016, I interned at the Office of Public Programs at the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C., a subset of the Smithsonian specializing in Asian art. I've had an interest in museum work and dreamed of working for the Smithsonian for most of my life. I've also been working increasingly more with Asian diaspora in my illustrative work, so applying to Freer-Sackler for an internship was an exciting prospect. 

The application process was rather straightforward through the Smithsonian's SOLAA system which enables users to also browse and apply for a myriad of other internships within the Smithsonian Institution. I was eventually contacted by Grace Murray and Matthew Lasnoski who became my supervisors during my internship when they noticed my application and thought I would be a good fit for the Office of Public Programs. 


I primarily worked in the ImaginAsia classroom, which functions as a family-oriented studio space within the Freer Sackler. My tasks were mostly focused around promotions and prep work for museum events, designing and leading summer camps for children ages 7-12, and the Open Studio events, which are free art-making programs that correspond to the museum's exhibits and events.


My most notable project the museum's first Teen Takeover event – I got to complete a variety of tasks which is some of what appeals to me about museum work. Collaborating with the FS Teen Council, I made promotional illustrations for a DJ Showdown and the actual Teen Takeover event. I later worked with the FS's graphic design department to fine-tune the fliers. These went all over DC, Freer-Sackler social media, and the museum itself! I also helped host and assist artists performing for the event–who, in this case, were local teen DJs–and execute all the nitty gritty things that go into making those events possible such as designing and making pin-back buttons and searching for IP information regarding photos of artifacts we wanted to use. Most notably, however, was a Pokemon Go Walking tour for the event which I researched, designed, and executed myself. It even got featured on the website Museum Hacker! For the tour, I utilized the unique setting of the Freer-Sackler and their gardens to talk to attendees about analyzing art, cultural context, and a little bit about Japanese mythology and illustration all while catching Pokemon. Beforehand, I had preparatory meetings with a fellow and curator of the Japanese collection to fine-tune, fact-check, and further research. I learned some interesting real-world geopolitical context about Shinto influence and imagery that I'd likely never have access to otherwise. It was a very exciting, fruitful, and rewarding project that had nearly 100 attendees and might become semi-permanent programming. 


During my time at Freer-Sackler, I also researched and connected local Buddhist and Asian communities (including a Thai Buddhist temple significant to my childhood) to the FS for a large upcoming set of exhibitions. I studied and worked firsthand from artifacts in the new Chinamania exhibit to design screenprinting stencils for an Open House event, which then connected me to local screenprinters, Soul and Ink. These pieces are now on official Freer Sackler merchandise! I was treated like an employee, attending department-wide meetings and having my input valued and considered during them. I've enjoyed my time at Freer-Sackler and will be returning throughout the next fiscal year to continue my work on the Open Studio programs. I've also been invited to teach a manga and illustration-focused camp for the summer of 2017! This experience has introduced me to an exciting and unusual niche for my illustration while also allowing me to apply many more skills that all relate back to art, art making, and art history. I'm very excited for what this could mean for a museum work career where I can utilize my illustration skills in unique, challenging, and very fun ways and still working with other areas of art. 

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