I’ll always remember how proud I felt bounding up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the summer of ’82, where, as a recent Yale art-history graduate, I’d landed a coveted summer internship. In addition to helping in the education department, I sat at the front desk and also gave tours of the collection, discoursing on everything from Dogon sculpture to Jackson Pollock. Though I return to the Met often, to cover interesting shows and trends, or simply to enjoy the art, it was a special moment for me when I entered through a modest doorway on the lower level last Thursday and made my way to the group visits department, where my lecturer’s badge was waiting.
Soon enough our ARTnews interns and Galeristas Adolescentes, helmed by Mista Oh!, made their way there too, and we talked for a bit about what an encyclopedic museum is and how to use the Met (and its website) for inspiration, information, and more. And then we were off for our day of looking and sketching, winding our way through the Egyptian Wing, into the Engelhard Court, along a multicultural array of arms and armor, and past Europe’s decorative arts before emerging in Central Park for frisbee and lunch, which was delivered to the museum’s steps (great idea Mista Oh!–and thanks Retna!). We spent the afternoon wandering through the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, where we made some more great drawings. Along the way we talked about things like primitivism, Orientalism, the language of color (and, in the case of our early-bird interns, institutional critique, courtesy Andrea Fraser, upstairs). Everyone had a great time and learned a lot–and I learned that I need to be more modest in my ambitions as a tour guide. Next time we’ll tackle the second floor.
Click here to see a clip of the day’s activities!