Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, MO
This summer, I interned at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in my hometown of St. Louis. The Pulitzer is a small, non-collecting museum that was started in 2001 by Emily Pulitzer, widow of the newsman Joseph Pulitzer’s grandson. An interesting side note: The building is known for its architecture, being one of very few Tadao-Ando designed public buildings in the United States. Another member of this group (as of the 2014 expansion) is the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown!
At the Pulitzer, I split my days between working as a docent in the museum halls and assisting the public engagement staff in its offices across the street. As a docent, I learned how to protect the artwork, which was especially challenging during the museum’s current exhibition, “Assembly Required,” which features a mixture of interactive and non-interactive artworks. It turns out that when people are allowed to touch one piece of art, they think it’s OK to touch everything in the museum. (Sadly, it is not.) As part of the public engagement team, I worked on a wide variety of projects. Some of these were one-off tasks like scanning and adding press coverage in local magazines to a digital archive or assisting with campus photography, but I also worked on a number of longer-term projects. I created an organizational system for boxes of ephemera from other museums that the team had collected over multiple years (including materials from WCMA and MASS MoCA), interviewed facilities staff for information to be used in curatorial tours of a future ecology-oriented exhibition, researched urban farms in the St. Louis region as an initiative related to future public programming, and more.
Working at the Pulitzer made me want to learn more about art history. I’m hoping to take advantage of Williams’ excellent art history department in upcoming semesters and take a few classes. I’m especially interested in the Neo-Expressionist and Precisionist movements. I’m still planning to study music and computer science, though I’m thinking of ways I might be able to wield these interests in tandem as I start my career. I know the Pulitzer hosts a concert series featuring contemporary classical music performed by members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In a public engagement position, I could curate a similar series of performances or even expand the scope to include more diverse genres of music. Other ideas are to work at a museum devoted to a composer or a historic opera house—the list goes on. In any case, my experience at the Pulitzer has opened my eyes to career opportunities I would never have thought of had I not been given the chance to spend a summer there.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get valuable hands-on experience in a field I’m interested in while also staying close to home for my first summer back from Williams. In the future, I hope to explore other aspects of museum work in a different cultural context—maybe somewhere in the Berkshires, on the West Coast, or even overseas. Finally, I’d like to extend my thanks to the Class of 1975 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making this experience possible.