After a great summer working with the Gibbes Museum of Art as a Summer Camp intern, I was excited to return as an office intern over the fall semester. Working with Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education, has provided me with many opportunities to broaden my understanding of the inner workings of a successful museum, and the great lengths this staff goes to in order to provide such stimulating programming to all ages.
A significant highlight of my time at the Gibbes was the opportunity to help with the Museum’s 2015 Distinguished Lecture Series. The Gibbes brought the esteemed Philippe de Montebello, the longest serving director at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, to discuss the multiple lives of a work of art. Being able to take part in such a successful and truly informational event was quite fulfilling. As an Art History student, de Montebello’s lecture was elegant and inspiring to me. Working together to bring events like this to the people of Charleston is just one of the Gibbes’ many efforts to enhance art education in the city.
Last week, I was able to take part in The Gibbes’ Art With a Twist: Antique Stroll. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I walked with the group from the lobby of the Gibbes’ new offices (conveniently located across the street from the renovation site) to the first stop—John Pope Antiques. I was pleasantly surprised, as the walls were brightly colored and the cozy space was full of an eclectic collection of paintings, old instruments, beautiful pottery, and antique chests. The tour leaders provided the group with interesting details about several of the objects, and John entertained us with fascinating facts about his collection. I probably could have strolled around the space for another hour pondering the history of all these items, but I pulled myself away and walked down the street to Birlant & Co. Antiques. Although the setup of the space was quite different from John Pope’s, Andy Slotin and team were just as welcoming and were thrilled to show us around. We ended the visit discussing a beautiful silver dining set on display in the shop. By the end of the night, after stopping in several other shops, I couldn’t believe I’d lived in Charleston my entire life and never been inside any of these wonderful places.
The Museum’s efforts to provide quality art education doesn’t end with intellectual lectures for art history lovers. Art education for children is a great priority at the Gibbes. Working with Rebecca, I witnessed the huge amount of planning, scheduling, and documenting that goes into the Gibbes In-School Programming. The Gibbes offers quite a few In-School Programs for elementary students, such as Art to Go, Eye Spy, and First Steps. Teaching artists visit Charleston County schools and essentially bring the art to the students with hands on projects, followed by a visit to the museum.
During the Museum’s renovation, we’ve been lucky to partner with the Halsey Institute, City Gallery, and The Charleston Museum to continue our in-gallery programming. This semester, I was able to observe a group of first graders from Mitchell Elementary on an Art to Go field trip, as they experienced contemporary art at the College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute. The children were beyond excited to be this close to such colorful artwork! With such engaging instructors, the children felt at ease asking questions and describing the artwork in front of their peers. After learning a bit about the two featured artists, the kids walked around the gallery on a scavenger hunt to find repeated motifs in each artist’s work. I was impressed with their understanding of this concept, and took advantage of the opportunity to excite them as they turned to me with question after question about the art.
I’ve definitely enjoyed my time at the Gibbes, both in the camp classroom and behind the desk, and have gained a whole new perspective on the day to day life within a museum. I can’t wait to come back to the Gibbes for its re-opening in the spring!
—Naomi Edmondson, Senior at College of Charleston and guest blogger