This past August, I was contemplating what I should do about the internship my major required. As a fashion merchandising major at Buffalo State College, I was looking for something exciting that was different from the typical retailing internships our advisors normally set us up with. I had never done or even looked for an internship before and was understandably nervous about reaching out to companies with such little experience.
When I contacted the Burchfield Penney, I was pleasantly surprised to receive such a quick reply and warm welcome. After a brief interview and explanation of my responsibilities, I stared my internship in late August.
On my first day I was launched right into the normal routine of the archives. I was introduced to the Arts Legacy Project, shown briefly how to complete my tasks, and asked to do it. This project was not only new to me, it was a brand new adventure the Burchfield Penney was taking to expand their website. Needless to say, I was excited to be a part of something so new and beneficial to the museum. My tasks were time consuming and very involved, but extremely interesting. I was introduced to some of Buffalo’s most interesting artists through extensive and thorough interviews conducted by employees. These interviews explored the artists' education, mediums, motives, and even offered advice for emerging artists. Although I am not an emerging artist, I could still take these artists' stories and learn from them. I edited these interviews, wrote a brief statement about the content, and made them live on the Burchfield Penney’s website. I became so familiar with these artists that I was able to write brief biographies for a couple of them just from my memories of the interviews. Being trusted to complete these tasks that were so new to the museum was not only exciting, but gave me a great feeling that I was a part of something important. I knew I was helping achieve goals the museum had wanted to complete for a long time.
Although most of my time was spent at my desk in the Archives, sometimes (mostly the Thursdays before a M&T Second Friday opening) I was asked to assist in the assembly of an exhibition. I had the honor of helping set up my two favorite exhibitions that opened during my time at the Burchfield Penney, Spain: Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels, & Revolution, and Charles E. Burchfield: In His Own Words. During these times, I was exposed to the real Burchfield Penney Art Center. Although hectic, this is when everyone at the museum came together to get things done. I learned a little bit of everything about the assembly of an opening. Everyone involved was patient and willing to show me how to correctly hang and label the works, touchup the walls, and other various parts of the process. These exciting times showed me how important coming together and harmonizing in the workplace is.
Knowing close to nothing about working in an art gallery, I knew this internship would be a huge learning experience, but I had no idea just how much I would take away from it. Being so involved in such an important part of Buffalo really opened my eyes to my community. I started attending Burchfield Penney’s M&T Second Fridays and eventually met some of the artists I had become so familiar with while working on the Arts Legacy Project. I made great connections that I feel comfortable keeping in touch with, and I learned many new things not only about art galleries, but about myself. Being trusted to complete so many different tasks made me confident that whatever was handed to me, I could do.
I am thankful for my time at the Burchfield Penney. I am confident that this internship taught me more than a typical internship could, and I would recommend this internship to anyone looking for something new that will push them toward working harder.
-Brittany Moose, Archival Intern