by Lizette Carrasco, Education and Public Programming intern

This summer, I got the opportunity to take part in the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship program at the Vincent Price Art Museum. This is my first internship, and I was very excited when I learned that I had been offered the position of Education and Public Programming Intern. Museum education has always fascinated me, and my experiences as a former student tutor and now full-time summer intern have only further grown this interest. I have always wanted to be more hands-on at the museum. I previously worked with last year’s education intern on the museum’s Family Day programming series held every first Saturday of the month. Here, I learned the logistics of what went into organizing a public event and how to make it successful, and this experience further pulled me into learning more about museum education.

Before I started my position as the Education and Public Programming intern, I felt various emotions of what this position would entail. I wanted the organization I was working for to know that I am here to learn and ready to work. Most internships are in person but this time things were going to be a bit different. Due to the pandemic my internship transitioned to an online format. This meant (many) virtual meetings, no face-to-face interaction with my colleagues, and most importantly, the museum’s approach to public programs and our actual internship experience would have to be reimagined. I also looked forward to meeting fellow interns in person and visiting different institutions and organizations as part of the program, but this would also need to be adjusted.

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Vincent Price Art Museum staff meeting hosted on Zoom

With the transition of going online, I had to approach this internship differently. The research that I would be doing required a bit more guidance from my colleagues to ensure that I was heading in the right direction. At the beginning of my internship, I remember feeling unsure of myself in the way I would research. I often thought to myself, “Am I doing this correctly? Is there a specific way to research?” But the more I continuously met with my colleagues through our virtual  meetings, their positive reinforcement lifted the preconceived notions I held. Once I understood the method of researching, I produced a solid contact and community resources list for the museum’s future public engagement efforts. The contact list included departments and offices on the East Los Angeles College campus, local libraries, recreational parks, senior centers, and local high schools. The more I looked into other organizations and institutions online, the more I began to take notice of ways to improve the museum’s website. This involved looking at other institutions to see how they’re dealing with COVID-19 and what virtual resources they are providing to the public. I wanted the Vincent Price Art Museum to have the same connection with the public.

With this new idea, I could not wait to propose a new project at our next staff meeting. I suggested the museum consider updating its online materials pertaining to the permanent collection to better inform not only the students of East Los Angeles College, but also the general public. Even though it was not part of my initial task list, I wanted to have this project be part of my internship and to accomplish this goal before the internship was over. As I shared my ideas, I was very happy to hear my colleagues were all on board. 

Once I came up with a game plan, I met with multiple staff members to hear their input on the project. This project would include a video clip of the Form and Function in the Ancient Americas permanent collection gallery along with images of highly-visited ceramic pieces. I also included the opinions of previous student tutors and tour guides who worked at the museum to figure out what exact ceramic pieces the general public enjoyed while they gave their own tours in the exhibition space. As I collected the feedback from these colleagues, I started to construct a storyboard of the selected ceramic pieces for a slideshow for the museum’s website. Another collection that I wanted to photograph and include in this project is the museum’s votive painting collection, currently on view as part of the Images of the Divine in Everyday Mexico exhibition. I felt that this was an important project to pursue now that the museum is closed because it could provide students and the general public with remote access to the museum’s permanent collection. 

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Photographing Images of the Divine in Everyday Mexico: Ex-Votos and Retablos from the Permanent Collection.

I used my photography experience and my own compact digital camera to photograph and film the collection. Due to the current safety precautions on campus, I had limited time and access to the museum. With this limited access, the pressure was on to make sure that I successfully completed the project. I made my way to the galleries and started photographing the collection. I experienced many trials and errors when photographing the collection. For example, I noticed how orange the images were coming out because I had set the White Balance to Auto. White Balance fuses the color balance of an image. The photos and the filming came out orange so I planned to redo them. The second time I went to the museum, I used the museum’s camera to photograph the collection. I reviewed the images as I took them and when I finished taking the photographs I went to the second floor office to upload the images onto the computer and Google Drive. I was going to work on editing the images as soon as I arrived home. I started working on the images and noticed that the images were slightly blurry. The images were now out of focus. I voiced this to my supervisor and mentioned that I needed to go back to the museum once again to reshoot the collection and this time I planned on using a friend’s digital camera and Go-Pro. It was in this third attempt that I accomplished my goal of filming the permanent collection galleries and taking hi-resolution photographs of specific objects on view. I experienced many challenges preparing and executing this project but with patience, time, and dedication I was able to successfully complete the project.

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Overall, this internship has shown me that I am capable of accomplishing any personal or professional goal that I set for myself. At the beginning of this internship I felt excited and anxious, and toward the end of my internship, I was experiencing imposter syndrome and I questioned my placement and my ability to succeed in this role. Since this was my first time interning at a museum, I felt the need to excel at every task list assigned to me. Through my work and experiences, and support from colleagues, I ultimately learned that it is okay not to get everything right the first time. It is all a learning process from beginning to end. I leave this internship feeling proud of my accomplishments, hopeful for the museum’s future digital initiatives, and excited for my future path as an arts educator.

Lizette Carrasco is an incoming Sociology major at the California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). She previously attended East Los Angeles College (ELAC), where she served as a student tutor at the Vincent Price Art Museum for two years. Learn more about her here!

The Vincent Price Art Museum is grateful to the Getty Foundation for allowing us to mentor and collaborate with the next generation of arts professionals in Los Angeles. To learn more about the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program, along with other museum opportunities at VPAM, please visit the following links:

Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program

Smithsonian Undergraduate Internship Program

Museum Studies Certificate Program