When I arrived in Charleston in May after two days and just over a thousand miles in the car, I wasn’t completely sure of what I was getting myself into. A new city, a new work experience, and new people to meet was exciting, but also a little terrifying. Looking back over the three months I spent as the Media Relations/Communications intern at the Gibbes Museum, I’m happy to report that Charleston, the Gibbes, and all the people I have worked with and met have truly made this an unforgettable experience!
When I decided to go back to school for a certificate in museum studies, almost two years after completing my undergraduate degree, I never would have imagined I would end up in Charleston, SC. I had always heard wonderful things about the city, so as my final semester approached I began doing a little research on the museums in the area where I might be able to apply for an internship. The Gibbes Museum caught my attention right away, not only for its collection and exhibitions, but for its unique history and true commitment to South Carolina’s artistic heritage. Since I wasn’t able to visit and interview with the museum in person, I spoke on the phone with Marla Loftus, the Director of Museum Relations, who offered me the position of Media Relations/Communications Intern for the summer. I knew this would be a great opportunity to learn about and participate in the marketing and events departments of a museum. My second day at the Gibbes, the museum hosted its annual Street Party, a fabulous and exciting way to kick off my internship and the summer. Shutting down one of the busiest streets in Charleston, amazing food, and great entertainment is probably not the norm after less that 48 hours at a new position, but I wasn’t going to complain!
Over the past three months, I’ve had a chance to work with a variety of people within the museum, but have primarily assisted the Director of Museum Relations. From posting press releases online, to fulfilling donation requests and organizing media coverage of the museum and its programs, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the museum and Charleston from an insider’s perspective. One of my favorite parts of this internship was being included in almost every meeting that the Director of Museum Relations attended, which gave me a better understanding and appreciation for how much planning goes into promoting the museum and the importance of community relationships and allowed me to meet some wonderful people in Charleston’s cultural community. If I’ve learned anything from this internship, it’s that the time spent cultivating partnerships with media outlets and sponsors is essential to the success of a museum.
I’ve also spent a lot of time working with the Program and Events Manager. Almost immediately after the sidewalks were swept following the Street Party, planning began on the next fundraising event, Bitters and Twisted in the Salon d’Orleans. Timed to coincide with the opening of one of the new exhibitions In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans, this event was organized by the Gibbes’ young professionals auxiliary group, Society 1858. I assisted with everything from researching options for hand-held fans to helping with set up on the day of the event. It’s impossible to understand the amount of time and dedication that goes into planning an event such as this unless you are involved with the preparations. Performers and caterers don’t magically appear the night of the event, poised and ready for a couple hundred guests. Months of research and decisions go into making the night so memorable and successful. I have a deeper appreciation for anyone that plans programs and events and I know I will be able to apply the experiences I’ve had this summer at the Gibbes in my professional career.
This internship at the Gibbes Museum has given me the confidence to begin a career in the museum and art world. I’ve learned and participated in more than I ever imagined I would and have enjoyed being a part of this amazing team!
—Amanda Breen, Media Relations/Communications Summer Intern, Gibbes Museum of Art