Student Experiences at the Carlos
The Carlos Museum's student interns and work-study students share their experiences from the 2021-2022 school year.
During my time at the Carlos Museum, I’ve had the pleasure of working in the Education Department as a work-study student. My favorite thing about my position at the Carlos is that it involves working on both smaller, everyday tasks and bigger projects. For example, some of my first duties on the job involved maintaining the SmARTy packs. I also have worked throughout the semester to assemble the Family Guides, putting cut-outs of the collection’s highlights on a binder ring, easy to carry around the museum. It has been exciting and rewarding to do my part to maintain the fantastic resources the Education Department and the Carlos offer to visitors.
As much as I enjoy the daily tasks that are part of my job, during the spring semester I was excited to be assigned my first big project: develop a Student Studio based on back-strap weaving, a technique with origins in ancient America that contemporary artists still use today, and that was used to create some of the textile pieces belonging to the Carlos’ Art of the Americas collection. Before I began the project, I had no experience with weaving at all. My work began with learning how to back-strap weave using internet tutorials, which was fun and exciting. After trying several ideas to make set up and the looming process easier for students new to the technique, I had a breakthrough when Elizabeth Hornor found a picture of a back-strap weaving workshop from several years ago where the heddle—a key part of the loom—was made of popsicle sticks. A heddle made of popsicle sticks was easy and affordable to construct ahead of time and made the weaving process slightly more intuitive for first-time weavers. With the help of everyone in the department, and with lots of edits to the workshop instruction sheet, the project was finished!
Getting to learn a new art making technique and developing it into something I could share with my coworkers and fellow students was challenging and exciting. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to work with the Education Department to help develop this project from start to finish. I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed working with the whole team to solve the problems that came up along the way.
Middle Eastern & South Asian Studies Major, Art History Minor
Class of 2022
I began working at the Carlos Museum during the spring semester of 2021. I came to the museum due to the Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place exhibition whose subject matter corresponded well with my Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies major. That semester I worked on educational programs related to Wondrous Worlds such as a virtual tour for K-12 students which allowed me to interact with the public during the height of covid.
During the same semester, I was enrolled in “Depicting God in Hinduism,” a class where students used the Carlos Museum’s Asian collection to curate an exhibition, The Avatars of Vishnu. That class was my first introduction to the Asian collection and it also fostered my burgeoning interest in provenance research. Thanks to already working at the museum, I was connected with Annie Shanley, the assistant registrar and provenance researcher at the Carlos Museum. She kindly agreed to undertake a research project with me looking into the provenance of the Asian collection.
After enjoying my first semester at the Carlos I stayed for summer 2021, continuing to work in the Education Department and researching the provenance of the Asian collection with Dr. Shanley. Since the summer of 2021, I have continued to work in the Education Department and my project with Dr. Shanley transformed into my honors thesis. My thesis focused on one object, the Carlos Museum’s Dancing Balakrishna, and used our provenance research to write a cultural biography for the statue. As my interests in the museum have expanded, new doors were opened for me and the Carlos Museum was a place where I grew academically and professionally during my Emory career.
International Studies and Economics Double Major
Class of 2023
I started working at the Carlos Museum in August of 2021, at the start of my junior year. I chose the Carlos Museum as opposed to other work study options because I wanted to learn something new. From the beginning, I became involved in helping organize the Each/Other member preview. In addition, I learned how to navigate the museum database. My favorite events were the student nights. I enjoyed having friends come to see the amazing exhibits, especially after learning the incredible amount of work that goes into putting it all together.
My experience at the Carlos has made a significant impact on my time at Emory. I have met great mentors and friends who have taught me a lot. I am excited to return in the fall for my senior year.
Anthropology and Classical Civilizations Double Major
Class of 2022
I started interning at the Carlos in the conservation lab the spring 2022 semester. It’s been a wonderful experience. I was first interested in interning at the Carlos after taking a class with the museum’s Chief Conservator, Renée Stein called Technical Art History. It really encouraged me to think about a career in museums, specifically art conservation.
Throughout the internship, I had the opportunity to work with a number of items in the Carlos’ collection. I’ve adhered object number labels to an assortment of African objects, vacuumed and humidified textiles from the Americas, packaged gemstones from the Greek and Roman collections, and even polished some contemporary brass sculpture. My favorite experience by far, was seeing a huipil that I had vacuumed in its display case. The huipil was the largest textile I had worked on, and I had helped position it in its case. I was really proud of the work I put into the textiles’ display, and that moment really cemented my desire to work in museums.
The community within the Carlos has also been a wonderful experience. The conservation lab currently has three amazing conservators; Renee Stein, Brittany Dineen, and Kaitlyn Wright, who have all offered advice and mentorship to me during my time there. I asked a lot of questions about their experiences, and they were more than willing to share their stories and opinions about the field. They helped with applying for conservation pre-programs, which can be very competitive. With their help, I was able to secure a summer internship with the Smithsonian. The time I spent at the Carlos was truly beneficial. I learned many skills required for maintaining a collection but most importantly I developed a network that wants me to succeed.
Art History and Marketing Double Major
Class of 2022
I started interning for the education department in June 2019. During my time there, I assisted in standardizing and formatting lesson plans for Artful Stories and the conservation department. I also developed sample tours for docents in training and led numerous virtual tours during the pandemic. Since fall 2021, I have been working with the Marketing and Communications Department where I have been closely involved with website operations. I assisted in creating the new site pages dedicated to the Conservation Department, utilized Google Analytics to suggest web strategies, and am currently developing content for the Michael C. Carlos Museum's Wikipedia page.
Art History and Economics Double Major
Class of 2023
I started interning for the Marketing and Communications Department at the Carlos Museum in August 2021. During my time here, I really enjoyed learning from the wide variety of tasks I had worked on. For example, some of my first tasks involved compiling lists for media contacts and calendar listing sites, which greatly improved my ability with document organization. I also helped create graphics and content for social media posts, schedule calendar listings, and build a new site page featuring research projects undertaken by the Conservation Department.
I spent a large amount of my time at the Carlos creating Shorthand digital stories based on student conservation projects such as Behind the Blue and Peering into Power. I am so glad to develop a new format to present the projects in a more visually engaging way that can be adapted to various platforms and reach more audiences. Though I had no experience with website building, graphic design, and calendar listings before, I was able to learn all these new skills from this internship that can help extensively with my future career.