When we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to beauty, craft, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, expression and emotion.

Intern Insights: Abby Foss

When I first started working at the Gibbes I didn’t really know what expect. I had recently declared my major at the time and I felt that volunteering here would be a way to become more serious about the “museum world” and to learn more practical experience that I wouldn’t be able to learn in a classroom. In addition, working at the office wasn’t the only thing I got to do. One of my favorite experiences was early on at the beginning of my time at the Gibbes when I got to attend the opening night for the Patrick Dougherty exhibition. Because the exhibition was being built while I was working there, I was able to see the steps and process that the artist took to make the sculptures. I still can’t believe how they got the pieces done in such a tiny space. It’s a bit cliché but looking down at the sculptures from the second story at the sunset was my favorite time.  In addition, I was actually able to bring some of my friends to the Gibbes to check out the sculpture after the opening night.

Betwixt and Between by Patrick Dougherty is one of Abby’s favorite works here at the Gibbes Museum.

Speaking about friends, I also convinced a couple of them to check out the third floor gallery last year! (I’m pretty proud about that, my friends do appreciate art but with college students it sometimes hard to get them to get out and go to an institution like a museum). One specific exhibition I remember was the Pan American Modernism: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America and the United States exhibition because the friend I took had a specific interest in Latin American culture and language and both of us enjoyed talking about some of the works afterwards.

Despite participating in and visiting all these exhibitions, a lot of my work was done across the street in the office. I honestly can’t remember exactly what projects and assignments that I’ve had to do over the course of these two years, but I do remember that when I first started working the Society 1858 was hosting its annual winter party and that year’s theme was Graffiti and street art. They hold an art raffle every year and for this theme all the artists painted on skateboard decks. The Concert in the Garden series was pretty memorable as well, mostly because it was live music and also how windy it was during some of the outdoor events. I do remember that! I think the scariest thing I had to do was the first time I had to put up posters around King Street, East Bay, and at area art galleries. The task itself isn’t particularly difficult nowadays, but the first few times I was super nervous because I was worried that someone wouldn’t believe that I was actually from the Gibbes. Despite this, many of my tasks were done on the computer with the ever useful excel sheets, whether it was researching different holidays that had to do with the arts or creating a contact list of one group or another.

Abby assisted with the logistics of the skateboard raffle as part of Society 1858’s Winter Party last year.

The painting conservation blacklight tour I got to take last fall before I left for study abroad was way more entertaining than I’d thought and a random favorite highlight. It was super weird to see all the patches and lines in the paintings that have had to be repaired when the conservator held a blacklight over the object. While I could never see myself devoting my time to such detailed work, it was impressive to be able to see how flawlessly (at least to my unprofessional eye) the conservators were able to repair these pictures.

Having now interned at the Gibbes for about two years, I have a better idea about what goes on behind the scenes of a museum. My major, Arts Management, is very holistic. Every topic from Fundraising and Grant Writing to Finances in the Arts is taught, but you can only learn so much in one semester and most importantly, everything is better understood in context. I also thoroughly enjoyed being able to see the different exhibitions on the third floor and attending some of the other programs hosted by the Gibbes. Sadly, this semester flew by so fast and was so busy I never had the chance to participate in programs and event as I had last year, however, with the incoming semester (and a change in my work and school schedule), I will be able to free to do just that!

—Abby Foss, Gibbes Programs & Events Intern and Guest Blogger

Top image: As an Arts Management major at the College of Charleston, Abby was able to experience what working in a museum is like, from assisting with event logistics to researching the collection. 

Published December 7, 2018

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