Having never interned nor worked at a museum before, this internship has been my first opportunity to witness and participate in the inner-workings of museum business. Thus far since I began in August, I’ve been working under chief curator Marina Pacini on the Brooks’ upcoming exhibition, Armed and Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal (A & D). It’s been an intriguing project because it encompasses several cultural regions and different time periods. My responsibilities have primarily involved locating research materials and then helping Marina comb them for relevant information. I have also been working on organizing the exhibit contents so that Marina can pick the best arrangement and layout of the exhibition displays.
A & D is neat because it has taught me to look at objects which are primarily instruments of destruction as items that nonetheless reflect the art and aesthetics of various cultures. Artistic development as related to weaponry also inevitably leads to military history which offers a further perspective on the many facets of intercultural exchange. For example, the Chinese are generally considered to be the inventors of gunpowder and the first guns, but Europeans quickly took over gunpowder technology and harnessed its results for much more precise and deadly means than the Chinese had yet imagined.
I’m grateful to be working on a project that I will be able to see to its completion since A&D opens in less than one month. I will have learned how an assortment of various objects can come together under curatorial management and become a cohesive statement about the development of visual culture. At the same time, I’ve simply learned a lot of weapons and weaponry. (Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci invented a type of gun which became the forerunner for pistols today?)
Working at the Brooks, especially working so closely with its curator, has been a great opportunity for me which has definitely contributed positively to my thoughts on a future career in the art world. After the opening of A&D, I look forward to assisting with more projects and exhibitions, and I’m only saddened that my time here seems to be passing so quickly.
P.S. Armed and Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal opens November 12!
This blog is written by Amy Aughinbaugh, Exhibitions Intern for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.