Griffith University Art Museum (GUAM) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its renowned internship program, which is now running online for the first time.
Over the past decade, more than 40 Griffith students and alumni have completed the 12-week program – an experience which has helped them start careers at leading institutions in Australia and internationally.
Internship graduates have gone on to work as curators, gallerists, registrars, conservators, educators, writers, installers and professional artists.
Dr Carol McGregor, who now leads the Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art program at the Queensland College of Art (QCA), was one of the first students to complete the internship program back in 2010.
“It was an amazing opportunity to learn about a whole side of the art world that I’d never been exposed to before – we learnt about storage, hanging and conservation,” she said.
“It opened my eyes to a whole world of employment opportunities within the arts industry.
“It also gave me a new insight into Griffith University’s amazing art collection, which is on display across all of the campuses.”
Fellow QCA alumnus Helen Bird went on to join the collections and exhibitions team at the Museum of Contemporary Art after completing the internship.
“The knowledge and skills I gained gave me the confidence to pursue roles in museums and galleries,” she said.
Griffith University Art Museum Director Angela Goddard said the program gave students the skills they needed to secure employment.
“Being able to provide industry training is very important to us. We involve our interns in a diverse range of projects and work situations which prepares them for their future careers in museums and galleries,” she said.
“We are passionate about identifying and nurturing talent early in people’s careers. This type of workplace professional development is really valued by the sector and helps our interns stand out.”
As part of the University’s commitment to safe and flexible learning during COVID-19, GUAM began its first online internship program this trimester, welcoming domestic and international students into the remote program.
While working from home, interns have been able to focus on curatorial and collections research, online engagement, marketing and arts administration under the guidance of GUAM staff.
Qiaoying He is studying a Bachelor of Creative and Interactive Media at QCA, and is completing the GUAM internship from her home in Guangdong, China.
“Being a curator has always been one of my dreams,” she said.
“Fortunately, the internship can be done online – although COVID-19 has had a big impact on all of us, I never thought of giving up.”
Qiaoying has been working on interactive museum engagement as part of her studies at the QCA and has come up with a design concept for GUAM as part of her internship.
Virginie Senbel-Lynch is an emerging sculptor and curator. She is completing a Bachelor of Fine Art at the QCA – taking a leap of faith and pursuing a career in the arts after almost 20 years in the corporate world.
“I’ve gained such an insight into the collection at Griffith and an understanding of what happens behind the scenes at the art museum – I hadn’t realised the scale of what’s involved,” she said.
“It’s an amazing way to make industry connections, discover new artists and get inspiration for my own art practice.
“It’s an exceptional opportunity, and the internship is one of the main reasons I transferred from studying fine art on Open Universities to enrolling at the QCA.
“We are so lucky to have an institution like GUAM at Griffith – they are constantly pushing the boundaries and presenting work in new ways, it’s encouraged me to think outside the box.”
Virginie juggles her studies and internship with two teenage children, but said all of the hard work was worth it.
“I’m following my passion – you only have one life, and it’s about making the most of it,” she said.
“As a mature-age student I know why I’m here and I put 110 percent into it. The internship is part of that.”
Feature Image: Griffith University Art Museum staff with some of the works in the collection.