Julia D. Powell ’23

Global Cultural Asset Management, North Adams, MA

Due to the generosity of Peter ’79 and Laurie ’79 Thomsen, this summer I was thrilled to participate in an internship at Global Capital Asset Management (GCAM). The firm is a small museum and arts consulting company based in North Adams. GCAM was established by Thomas Krens ’69 after he worked as the director of the Guggenheim Foundation for twenty years. GCAM offers a wide variety of services, primarily related to providing client reports on the feasibility of potential new art museums. Before starting GCAM, Tom thought up and drove the creation of Mass MoCA.

My co-workers!

I first learned about this internship by looking at EphLink for summer opportunities. When I saw that a Williams alum, Harmon Pardoe ’19, was advertising a summer internship at an arts management company located in the Berkshires, I was immediately interested in the position. First, I have always loved art and art history. Second, as an economics major, I am interested in learning about the business world. Thus, this internship seemed to be a unique and perfect opportunity to merge two interests of mine while also gaining workplace skills and experience. My internship lasted ten weeks, and during this time I learned a great deal about working for a boutique consulting firm.

My daily tasks almost always required doing research for the firm or writing/editing different documents and presentations. Because GCAM works on multiple projects at once, as soon as I would complete one task, I’d often start another for a completely different project. I greatly enjoyed the wide variety of work I did because I was able to learn about the museum business in many different parts of the world. My personal favorite was working on the reports for several museums currently being developed in Saudi Arabia. From researching notable contemporary Saudi artists to learning about the Saudi arts and culture scene, I greatly enjoyed gaining a comprehensive understanding of the new museum business in one country.

Over the course of the internship, I was able to produce a variety of work that I am proud to have completed. These documents include various case study presentations, client/personal profiles, cost plans and reports, and reports on important museum programming. Before this summer, I did not truly understand what it meant that “a museum is also a business.” I now know that business drives essentially every decision a museum makes, and that without serious government and private aid, museums would not be able to stay open. From pouring over IRS documents to calling different museums and requesting data, I gained a deep understanding of how museums both make and lose money.

Overall, I had an extremely enjoyable and informative summer. I am thankful for the chance to gain firsthand experience at a small consulting firm, and I now believe I will pursue a similar position post-graduation. Furthermore, the research, analytical, and data skills I learned this summer are directly transferrable to any future employment. Finally, this summer also instilled in me a deeper appreciation for the effort all museums put into maintaining their collections and engaging with the public.