Intern Perspective: Planning and Promoting Happenings at the Gibbes

Since January, I have been gifted with the opportunity to intern behind the scenes at the Gibbes. Before my internship began, I was not sure of what I was getting myself into. Of course my mind went to the two extremes: I would either be licking envelopes and getting coffee or I would be overwhelmed with tough work and little explanation. Instead, I have had an entirely different experience working as the Museum Relations intern for the past four months. I felt welcomed from day one and have truly enjoyed working with the small staff who are able to keep the successful museum flourishing.

Although I am from Rye, New York, I have grown up spending tons of my time in Charleston with both my immediate and my extended family and have always considered this amazing city my second home. I am a junior at the College of Charleston double majoring in Art History and Communication. Two summers ago I had the opportunity to work with Rebecca Sailor, the Associate Curator of Education, helping her with the Gibbes Summer Art Camp. That experience showed me what a great connection the museum truly had with its surrounding community. Last Fall, when I was considering taking on an internship during the school year my uncle and local artist, John Dunnan, suggested I apply to the Gibbes. Right away, I knew this was a brilliant idea and after meeting with Marla Loftus and Lasley Steever, I was thrilled to accept the position. Although I have interned at the museum before, the experience offered with the Public Relations and Event Planning departments seemed like an opportunity I should not refuse. I was told I would have a very hands-on position and learn both simple and complex tasks that would be beneficial in the long run.

The models' finalé walk on the Flirting with Art runway.

For the past four months I have been able to assist with Public Relations, Event Planning, and Social Media for the Gibbes. I have been fortunate to learn so much about several different things that are involved with all of these jobs. From posting press releases and managing PR mentions to planning parties and posting tweets, there is always something to get done. One of my favorite events that I was lucky enough to be a part of was Flirting with Art in February. I enjoyed helping organize and plan this extravagant and modern runway show and loved being there to experience all of the hard work put into action. It was exhilarating watching the process while local artists interpreted the art of modern painters with a mix of styles using the human body as the canvas.

Recently, I was able to get involved with the opening of open two new exhibitions commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War: A Soldier’s View of Civil War Charleston and Stephen Marc: Passage on the Underground Railroad. The extraordinary connections I have seen made between the permanent collection and the the temporary exhibitions has been awe-inspiring. I love working with people who share my passion for both art and education and hope that the Gibbes Museum will continue to thrive in this historical and artistic city. I have enjoyed my experience here at the Gibbes that has been filled with both learning and excitement and I hope to keep a close connection with all of the staff and members for a long time to come!

Clay Dunnan, Museum Relations Intern, January through May 2011

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