Do You Have What it Takes to Be an Intern?

by Theresa Bembnister December 31, 2010


This is my last post. Thank you for your loyal readership over the past six months.

My internship at the Chinati Foundation has come to an end, and I’ve left Texas to return to the Midwest. I can tell I’ve reacclimated to the colder weather now that temperatures above 30 degrees feel warm.
If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts about Marfa, consider visiting. If you are beginning a career in art, architecture or museums (or if you’re looking for an excuse to spend a couple months drinking at Padre’s and traipsing through the desert on your days off), consider applying for an internship in Marfa. Both the Chinati Foundation and Ballroom Marfa offer opportunities for aspiring museum professionals.
If you are a working artist interested in spending time in Marfa, check out the artist residency programs at the Chinati Foundation and the International Woman’s Foundation.
Marfa is a small town, so it’s really easy for interns to get involved in projects and activities outside their museum duties. During my tenure at Chinati, interns mounted their own exhibitions, apprenticed with local clothing designers, hosted Marfa Public Radio shows and staged plays.
Here’s the internship lowdown:

Photo by Imagemkr1

Ballroom Marfa
Type of internship offered: general
Duties: The Ballroom website states that interns have the opportunity to get involved with all aspects of running a non-profit art space. During my time in Marfa, a photographer and a graphic designer worked as interns, and the staff found ways to utilize their special skills.
Payment: Ballroom provides interns with a place to live
Perks: Ballroom brings the best musical acts to town, so interns are guaranteed access to concerts. You may have to work, but still, you’ll get in for free.
I asked Zachary Tarrant, who interned at Ballroom this spring, to explain what he liked about the internship:
"I got real experience doing real things.  My responsibilities had direct consequences on the success of Ballroom and I really felt like part of the team due to how encouraging, warm, helpful and patient the whole Ballroom staff was with me.  The whole Marfa and Ballroom experience was, for me, about the art and the people.  Both were awesome.  I turned down a nice little bonus to stay at my job before I went out to Ballroom and I’ve never regretted that decision for a second."


For additional internship information, click here.

Intern apartment, complete with Judd chair

Chinati Foundation
Types of internships offered: general, conservation, development
Duties: Leading tours is the primary duty for general interns, but the museum staff works hard to assign additional projects that fit individual interests and skills. Some of the projects interns worked on during my stay at Chinati include developing educational programming for Marfa schoolchildren, photographing artwork, grantwriting and researching ways to make the museum more environmentally friendly.
Payment: $100 a week plus an apartment on the museum grounds
Perks: Enjoy the view of Judd’s 100 untitled works in milled aluminum from your kitchen window! 
What did I like about the Chinati internship? For me, living and working at the museum brought art history to life in a way I hadn’t experienced as a graduate student or as an intern at other museums. I researched Minimalism and Post-minimalism in grad school, but the artworks and artists I studied remained primarily abstractions–objects and people I read, thought and wrote about. Although Judd passed away nearly two decades ago, Chinati remains focused on his ideas about art and design and how they should be experienced. These ideas manifest themselves in real, concrete ways, including sitting on a Judd-designed chair for seven hours (ouch) or watching visitors’ expressions when they walk into an installation for the first time. Plus, the Chinati staff is wonderful to work with and the scenery is breathtaking.
For additional internship information, click here.


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