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Interning at a Closed Museum

Intern Valerie Coughlin in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Intern Valerie Coughlin in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

When I tell people that I am an intern at the Gibbes Museum of Art, I am often met with a confused look and the question: “How can you intern at a closed museum?” While this question is valid I have come to see the Gibbes’ renovation as an added bonus to interning at one of Charleston’s finest museums. As an arts management major at The College of Charleston, I have learned about all types of arts organizations, from well-established ones to completely new. I have learned about the challenges of developing programming from scratch as well as building upon existing programs. As a Public Programs and Special Events intern this fall under Lasley Steever, I have gotten to experience things I have only read about in textbooks. It is one thing to read about board responsibilities, but to see the number of hours and the amount of energy board members put into the Gibbes is something entirely different. As an intern I have learned about every aspect of an event, from artist accommodations to the logistics of securing a venue. But during my time here I have learned much more than how to successfully execute an event.

Insider Art with Andrew Brunk

Brunk Auctions president, Andrew Brunk, spoke to a crowd at the Gibbes Museum’s Insider Art Series.

I have been given the unique experience to be an intern at a museum with a reputation that goes back 150 years but also a museum that is undergoing renovations in more ways than one. Along with the floor to ceiling renovation of the building, the Gibbes is rebranding itself. This includes a new website, a new logo, a new mission statement, all in time for the re-opening this spring. So while I get the benefit of interning at one of Charleston’s most recognized and respected institutions, I also get to see how a museum develops on the ground floor. I have seen how the entire staff is coming together to build a new Gibbes. I have experienced how much planning and attention goes into creating a logo, how many meetings go into designing a website, and how the staff and board spend countless hours working together to discuss their hopes for the future of the Gibbes. I have learned that “Reimagine the Gibbes” is much more than a renovation tagline, it is reflective of what I experience day to day as an intern here. So while yes, I am interning at a closed museum, my time here has been invaluable. I am surrounded by the most talented, passionate, and hardworking staff and I cannot wait to see everything come together this spring when the Gibbes Museum of Art reopens!

Valerie Coughlin, College of Charleston intern and guest blogger

Published November 12, 2015

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