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Katzenberger Projects for 2018

Project 1: Tracing Ownership: Discovering the Past Lives of Japanese Illustrated Books

Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (FGSA)

Overview: This project offers an opportunity to learn about the collecting practices of Japanese art during the 19th century and 20th century. The successful candidate will be trained in identifying and research various marks of ownership, by surveying an array of early-modern (17th century-19th century) Japanese illustrated books preserved in the Freer-Sackler collections.

About the Book Collection: In 2007, the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery accessioned an extensive collection of Japanese illustrated books that was assembled by Dr. Gerhard Pulverer, a renowned medical researcher, and his wife Rosemarie over a period of more than thirty years. The collection comprises more than 900 titles (almost 2,200 volumes), ranging in date from the early seventeenth century to the 1970s. Today the Pulverer Collection is regarded as one of the most outstanding and comprehensive collections of Japanese illustrated books outside Japan. In 2013, the collection was made available to researchers, bibliophiles, and art lovers around the globe thanks to the generous support from the Getty Foundation through the Online Scholarly Catalog Initiative (OSCI), with additional support from the Anne van Biema Endowment Fund

Internship Description: The successful candidate will be actively involved in the preparation of innovative resources to enrich the Pulverer online catalog. The intern will survey part of the Pulverer collection looking for marks of ownership (collector seals, ex-libris, dealers/owners’ annotations, etc.) and, whenever possible, s/he will conduct biographical research on preeminent collectors. As part of the internship, the supervisor will provide weekly training sessions on various aspects of early-modern Japanese material culture (e.g. printing technologies, book history, bibliography, book formats and design, etc.) Furthermore, this project will provide an excellent opportunity to (1) improve research and writing skills, (2) learn how to collaborate on interdepartmental project, (3) relate with colleagues in different departments, (4) communicate effectively in a work environment, (5) learn about the history of Japanese early-modern book.

* Proficiency in Japanese and/or fluency in French is desirable but not a requirement

**Duties and responsibilities will be commensurate to the expertise of the candidate

Intern Learning Objectives:

  • Gain an understanding of various aspects of the museum’s operations.
  • Understand of how an online catalog develops within the museum environment, both at inter- and intra-departmental level.
  • Hone research skills by working both independently and under supervision.
  • Acquire familiarity with early-modern books, from both a theoretical and practical perspective.
  • Learn how to work with primary sources, as well as best practice for the handling of museum objects.

Project 2: Are Stamps Art?

National Postal Museum (NPM)

Background: The National Postal Museum holds sizable collections that are referred to as art collections, ranging from historic paintings of Postmasters General to designs for stamps. Stamps themselves, the bulk of our collection, however, are the end products of a process that begins with craftsmen and artists and ends with industrial production. Regardless of whether their initial designs are engraved by hand or digitally born, stamps are among the most reproduced objects in the world. Should the designs and the stamps themselves be considered miniature artworks, the results of craft practices or industrial products?

Project Description: The project will begin with a search for discussions of stamps, stamp design, and mass-produced art in the leading art and design journals and monographs from the 1840s through today. Were art and/or design communities writing about stamps or the mass production of art? Did the spread of industrialization, and particularly industrialized printing, change understandings of art? Has the rise of digital design changed attitudes towards or definitions of art?

Intern Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to create a bibliography of the literature reviewed and summarize his or her findings in an essay and in exhibit labels that could serve to introduce the topic of stamps as design and/or art for future stand-alone exhibits. (NPM’s current stamp art exhibit, Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps, will still be on display in 2018). In part this will involve meeting with Smithsonian and other specialists on the aforementioned and related questions.
  • Hone critical reflection and writing skills by sharing her or his findings in a written response piece and in conversations with NPM staff members also thinking about these issues as they research objects and create exhibits.
  • Learn more about the historiographies of art and design, write a literature review and create a bibliography for internal museum use, and learn how to write for public exhibitions.

Project 3: All Access Public Engagement Internship

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG)

Background: Museums have the potential to provide a space for teens with cognitive disabilities to focus on their individual passions, develop new interests, and creatively express themselves.  All Access is a museum-based arts program designed for teens with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Now in its seventh year, this two-week summer camp takes place in ARTLAB at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG) in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) from July 23rd– August 3rd, 2018. The All Access program is centered on museum learning; and developing teens’ artistic, technology, and social skills. Teen participants explore identity and self-expression through guided experiences in Smithsonian art museums, and by experimenting with traditional and digital art-making activities in the ARTLAB studio space. At the conclusion of the camp, each participant develops and presents a self-portrait in a medium of choice.

The Katzenberger intern will have the opportunity to apply art historical knowledge and research skills to projects that benefit select museum audiences; and gain hands-on experience with museum accessibility, specifically in utilizing the arts as a learning and engagement tool for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities. Specific learning objectives include:

  • Develop an understanding of key issues in museum accessibility and art education approaches for teens with intellectual and cognitive disabilities
  • Conduct research on artworks in the HMSG and NPG collections, and make recommendations for accessible content and programming using these works.
  • Support the development of materials for Hirshhorn visitors with disabilities, such as a self-guide for families who have children with cognitive disabilities.
  • Support the implementation of the All Access camp, gaining hands-on experience working with teens with cognitive disabilities in a museum learning environment.

The intern will work closely with the Hirshhorn Public Engagement team, National Portrait Gallery educators, the Smithsonian Office of Accessibility, an advisory group of young adults with cognitive disabilities, and the Hirshhorn Accessibility taskforce (which includes staff representatives from all museum departments). The intern will research works on view at the Hirshhorn and National Portrait Gallery, and develop materials to help teens engage with the works. This research will also be utilized to identify content for the development of a self-guide for visitors with intellectual disabilities. As a culmination to the internship, the intern will support the implementation of the two week All Access camp, getting hands-on experience working with and leading activities.

Project 4: The Crafts of African Fashion

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH)


The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is currently developing a new initiative that looks at how African fashion as creative cultural heritage industries sustain and revitalize traditional crafts along with the families, and communities of cultural practitioners. Co-curated by internationally renowned designer Alphadi and Dr. Diana Baird N’Diaye, senior curator at the Smithsonian, the Crafts of African Fashion research initiative will research and present a behind-the-scenes understanding of the ways in which the venerable skills, knowledge and aesthetic traditions of African dress artisans are sustained through creative collaborations. A robust component of this project will involve interviewing and  documenting and presenting African and African diaspora artisans and  designers.

As curatorial assistant for this project the intern will learn to develop capacities for research, planning and implementing collaborative frameworks for research and presentation on a variety of platforms.  She/he will also learn cultural documentation skills including interviewing, photo research and will create on-line features on collaborations between designers and traditional  artisans  from  regions throughout the continent and its diasporas.

Under the supervision and mentorship of the curators, the intern will learn to develop and coordinate social media based research for the project based on the successful model of the Will to Adorn: African American dress and aesthetics project.  This is an ideal intern position for an art or art history student with interest in the design, craft, and creative processes that go into African fashion.

Project 5: Fabulous Fish: Illustrations and Images

National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) at the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland.  The Intern may use the free Smithsonian shuttle to commute between our downtown location and MSC.

The Fish Illustration Collection is located at the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland and contains original art, photographs and other visual works depicting various fish species found throughout the world.  The collection spans a time of more than 180 years and contains images that document live fish characteristics, such as color and other external anatomical features that may not be distinguished in preserved specimens.  The Fish Illustration Collection consists of over 26,000 illustrations; most are hand-drawn illustrations on paper but also includes photographic prints and film.  Some of our illustrations are the first objects that help to establish the Smithsonian collections (we have several illustrations from the Wilkes Expedition).  The Collection also contains prints, lithographs, and various film-based materials.

Internship Learning Objectives Include:

  • Learning to rehouse the illustrations following long-established preservation procedures;
  • Learning to catalog, in detail, the newly accession objects using a Microsoft Access database; and
  • Learning how to produce digital “archival” derivatives from original works by using high-quality scanners.

The Intern may also learn to perform taxonomic research in to ensure currently accepted scientific names are being used.  By the end of the internship, the Intern will have learned the methods used to: prepare and rehouse collections for storage, catalog paper-based materials, gain an understanding of these collections association to our primary fluid-preserved collection (natural history fish specimens preserved in 75% alcohol); understand the importance of inventory control, and generally care for and manage museum collections.

Desired prerequisites: Applicants should have an interest in museum collections management activities, especially care, preservation and methods of data and multimedia asset management. Candidates must be detail oriented, able to handle delicate objects, have a high degree of accuracy and patience, and have the ability to work independently as well as in groups. Familiarity with Microsoft Excel or Access or EMu is a plus. While a background in natural history or museum collections management is a benefit, it is not required. Intern should have effective oral and written communication skills.

Project 6: Smithsonian American Art Museum Education Department Research Project

Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)

This internship will be under the primary supervision of Judith Houston Hollomon, Intern Program Officer in the Research and Scholars Center, in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The intern’s Project and Department supervisor would be Carol Wilson, Chief, SAAM Education Department.

Internship Description: This internship involves research on a current Education website, developed specifically for teachers, as well as providing assistance on several projects focused on art interpretation for proposed, upcoming museum exhibitions. Two primary areas of focus include:

1.) Interning under a SAAM Education Department specialist to refine The American Experience in the Classroom, which is a teaching website, created by the SAAM Education Department, for teachers. The intern will learn how to test ease of usability for the site, researching content, marketing information, and best practices for on-line learning, as well as editing text.

2.) Assisting with education interpretation projects for upcoming exhibitions, which may include content and stakeholder research and possible visitor testing.

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase knowledge of website use and website content development, specifically as these relate to general education objectives, American History and American art, teaching methodologies and the use of art in the U.S. public school system and classrooms, located in the U.S. and also abroad. The intern will also have the opportunity to delve deeper into American art history, American artists, and art objects within the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Increase knowledge of contemporary american art and the education methods used to interpret this type of art to a variety of public sectors worldwide.
  • Develop skills in the area of museum outreach programs; how these programs are developed, produced and conveyed to targeted audience.
  • Gain experience in the development and production of museum exhibitions: how the subject matter is chosen, the information is researched, and then organized and utilized for these proposed exhibitions.
  • Hone scholarly research skills.