Thursday, June 28, 2012

Art Institute of Chicago internship gives student valuable museum experience

Andrew Schaeffer ’14 is getting first-hand experience in the operations of a large museum, working with famous art and visitors from around the world. While he leads tours every day, he gets a glimpse of a career that he hopes is in his future.

Schaeffer was chosen for the 2012 Catherine McCaskill Clark Internship at the Art Institute of Chicago. Funded by alumna Amanda Fox ’67 and her husband Matthew Fox, the internship allows a Randolph student to work at the museum for about eight weeks each summer. It is one of several alumnae-sponsored internships at Randolph College.

“The opportunity to intern at the second largest museum in the United States was too exciting to pass up,” said Schaeffer, a Randolph art history and museum studies major from Greenlawn, N.Y.

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to famous works of art such as French impressionist Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

The internship started with two weeks of intense training, which Schaeffer wrote about in a blog that the docent interns are keeping this summer. Then he started leading tours for groups of children, families, and adults.

Schaeffer spends most of his time leading tours and researching art to include in later tours. “The most important thing I have learned is that no tour can ever be replicated exactly,” he said. “Every tour group is unique in terms of its makeup of people, ideas, and cultures, causing each tour to be different. You need to be on your toes.”

Schaeffer also attends meetings with offices and departments throughout the Art Institute so he can learn more about how a large-scale museum operates. The experience is helping him prepare for his goal of working for museums after college.