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Katzenberger Projects for 2020

Project 1: Modern and Contemporary Art, A to Z

Smithsonian Libraries (SIL), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Collection: The Smithsonian Institution Libraries artists’ files are an exceptional resource for art historical research.Researchers rely on artist files to establish chronologies, flesh out exhibition histories, review stylistic developments, and assess the critical reception of artists over time. These valued and heavily used resources contain items of an ephemeral nature such as small catalogs, brochures, and announcements, many including illustrations. Often these files are the only obtainable sources of critical documentation about well-established artists, as well as lesser known, emerging, and regional artists. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library holds more than 41 file drawers on over 2,000 artists, art institutions, and collectors of modern and contemporary art.

Project Description: The project consists of evaluating the existing folder content for retention and deaccession; updating the physical housing of the collection to current archival standards; reorganizing and relabeling folder content according to best practices established by the Art Libraries Society of North America’s Artist File Special Interest Group; and reconciling collection holdings in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Art & Artist Files Database. The intern will also develop a web exhibition or blog posts to highlight the collection, the content of which could be thematic or focused on one or more artists.

Intern Learning Objectives: The student will gain first hand experience working with primary materials in modern and contemporary art, developing knowledge of artists, stylistic developments, and chronologies in this area of study. The student will also be introduced to library and archival best practices for the physical maintenance and day-to-day processing and arranging of numerous and varied items found in special collections. The production of a web exhibition or blog posts will additionally provide an opportunity to research and write about an art topic, photograph library material, investigate and obtain copyright permissions, and publish a completed project on the Smithsonian Libraries web platform.

Project 2: Research and Writing for the National Air and Space Museum’s Art Collection


National Air and Space Museum (NASM)

Project Description and Background: Projects include research, writing, and data entry for The Museum System (TMS) art collection records and updates to TMS for the trophy collection. Intern will research and write about specific objects for future art publication and exhibition.  

The National Air and Space Museum’s art collection is one of the primary collections of aeronautical and space related art in the world. The collection consists of over 6,000 art works including paintings, drawings, original prints, reproductions, architectural drawings, sculptures, photographs, and textiles. The collection includes works by Alexander Calder, Francisco Goya, Annie Leibovitz, Man Ray, Robert Rauschenberg, Norman Rockwell, Jamie Wyeth, Alma Thomas, Audrey Flack, Richard Estes, and Chesley Bonestell. The art collection also contains the complete artworks from the beginning of the NASA Art Program through the Apollo era.

The intern will initially explore the art collection though The Museum System (TMS) computer based system where records for the Museum’s artifacts are stored. The intern will be tasked to review the current TMS data and input existing or newly researched data pertaining to specific works in the collection. Other research will include activities related to the art collection for an upcoming exhibition in Gallery 211.

For planning and future exhibition purposes, the internship will research the holdings of the art collection and compile comprehensive documents in its entirety. This research will be a valuable resource for both Smithsonian and academic scholars for research, exhibition planning, and loan purposes.

Intern Learning Objectives: Through this internship, the learning objectives achieved range from making research contributions to a significant art collection, obtaining the complete knowledge of logistics involved for acquisitions and storage of an art collection, to the preliminary process of creating a museum publication and exhibition. 

Project 3: The Crafts of African Fashion

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH)

Project Description and Learning Objectives: As curatorial assistant, the intern will have the opportunity to develop and practice skills in photo research, editorial and communication skills, cultural diplomacy, and other aspects of Folklife Festival program development. This is an ideal intern position for an art or art history student interested in the design, craft, and creative processes that go into African fashion.

Background: Co‐curated by internationally renowned designer Alphadi and Dr. Diana Baird N’Diaye, senior curator at the Smithsonian, The Crafts of African Fashion program at the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will present demonstrations, working studios, narrative sessions, workshops taught by master artists and designers, and performances of music and fashion. Together, they offer a behind‐the‐scenes understanding of how the venerable skills, knowledge, and aesthetic traditions of African dress artisans are sustained through creative collaborations.

During the day on the National Mall, the studios and workspaces will be open to the public with activities featuring designers and traditional artisans from regions throughout the continent and its diasporas. Occupational groups represented will include weavers, dyers, jewelry makers, seamstresses, tailors, leather workers, along with models and other performers. The Festival Marketplace provides a warm environment in which visitors can purchase clothing, jewelry, and more. Visitors also will have the opportunity to witness master artisans and designers, models and stylists at work preparing elements of collections that sustain community dress and adornment traditions. They will also learn from artists and designers through workshops patterned after Alphadi’s school of design in Niamey, Niger, and through rich narrative sessions. In the evenings, visitors will experience dynamic runway processions, styling competitions, and musical performances celebrating the 20th year of the Festival Internationale de la Mode Africaine (FIMA).

Project 4: Documenting and Archiving the National Entomological Scientific Illustration Collection

National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)

The Entomology Dept. Illustration Archives (IA) is a collection of original scientific illustrations produced over thepast 130 years. The Archive was started in 1998, with the purpose of conserving and organizing scientific illustrations–original art based primarily (but not exclusively) on SI specimens, most federally funded. These illustrations are technically federal property and must be archived properly to mitigate risk from degradation while also providing access to scientists, for exhibits, and for educational publications.

The IA collection includes 1000’s of paintings and drawings done for research entomologists by 100’s of illustrators in the Entomology department with the Smithsonian and US Department of Agriculture. The IA also includes the entire collection of illustrations done for the US Army’s South East Asia Mosquito Project and the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (WRBU), both of which have been primarily housed within the department since 1964.

The intern would assist in the work of the archive. The work entails rehousing individual illustrations to archival standards for type of media, add to inventory/catalog at an item-level to include a digital image of the object, and consolidate the collections on a department level. The final goal is to conserve, digitize and provide access to the combined illustration collections and to render these collections fully compliant with SD600.

The intern will learn to distinguish and describe materials and techniques used to create the illustrations, which are mostly on paper. He/she would gain experience in researching, to be able to include data on the illustrator, the author, publication, dates, etc. Some of this would be done on-line, some in the Department Library and some face to face with current curators, IA long-term volunteer staff and illustrators in the Dept. The intern will also be instructed in scanning and digital image processing techniques to produce high resolution scans of the illustrations being archived. He/she will also gain experience assisting with entering these records into the Archive database.

Project 5

General Katzenberger Project

Overview: If you aren’t sure which of the projects would fit you best or none of the listed projects address what you would like to learn in an art history related internship, you can indicate in your application essay an interest in a “General Project.” You will also need to describe in that essay your broad interests, career & academic goals, what you hope to learn in an art history related internship, and what interests you the most about the Smithsonian. Staff will see if they can find a possible match between the information you provide and a unit who has not listed a specific Katzenberger intern project this year but who may still be interested in hosting one.