From FSU Art BA ’20 Jessica Ens:
During the Fall of 2017-18 semester, I went on a class tour of the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum. Our professor, Jeff Beekman, had set up a class trip to speak with Executive Director, Grace Robinson, about her role, as well as the role of the curator, at the museum. This was my first time visiting Gadsden Arts and through this meeting, I had the opportunity to learn about all the wonderful outreach and educational programs Gadsden Arts offers. This includes art exhibitions, summer art camps, docent tours, master artist workshops, open studio hours, and school programs. The span of interaction Gadsden Arts has with the local community in Quincy, FL is truly impressive.
I thought an internship would be the perfect chance to learn from the talented GACM staff. Following our class tour, I reached out to Executive Director Robinson regarding an internship for the Spring 2018 semester. During my intern application process, I was able to volunteer with GACM Educational Director, Anissa Ford, at a local Quincy elementary school where we worked with third-grade classes that had visited the museum to write poetry about the artwork they had seen in the current exhibition. Some of the students had never had been to an art museum prior to their visit at Gadsden Arts. It was fun to be a part of a welcoming, engaging activity for the students where they learned to link visual arts with other subjects they were working on in school. After volunteering, I was certain I needed to be a part of the GACM team.
My internship started in January of 2018, at the beginning of the spring semester. Gadsden Arts had a new exhibition opening the second week of my internship, their annual Gala fundraiser at the end of the month and the grand opening for their huge expansion shortly after that. GACM had a ton going on and it was exciting to get thrown into the mix. My first week I got a taste of what goes into an exhibition opening with the help of curator Angie Barry. My first task as the new intern was to write the docent training material for the upcoming show. This included research about the artists on exhibit as well as research into the feature of the exhibition, water-based media. The training materials were then distributed to the docents during their exhibition walkthrough and theirs to keep for reference when giving tours. At the exhibition opening, I was able to meet a lot of the museum members and sit in on the curator’s presentation.
The exhibition opening was a small look at the type of events the Gadsden hosts. The biggest event of the year is their annual Gala fundraiser. The event is a collaboration between the GACM staff and board members. Together they determine a theme for the formal dinner and silent auction. This year’s theme was “Forgotten Florida” with tons of tropical Florida plants and handmade decorations. I got to help with setup for the two days prior to the event, hanging decorations and organizing the items for the silent auction. The behind-the-scenes gala prep work that is done by the staff and volunteers made for a flawless event. At the gala, I greeted guests, sold drink tickets and helped with the silent auction. We knew the hard work of the talented staff and many volunteers paid off when we tallied up the thousands of dollars raised at the event.
Not skipping a beat, the GACM staff switched gears from gala to grand opening. Gadsden Arts had the grand opening of their building expansion at the end of February and which included a larger and remodeled museum shop, more administrative offices, a state-of-the-art vault, and a brand new family drop-in studio: the ArtZone. I was especially excited for the ArtZone to open. A major goal of the ArtZone is to serve as a welcoming gateway for people that may not otherwise be comfortable in an art museum. The new space is a drop-in family studio where people, of all skill levels, can come in, get creative and make some art! I got to create lesson plans and projects that relate to the ArtZone monthly themes and books read at storytime. I also had the absolute pleasure of assisting artists of all ages to create little masterpieces of their own. In the short time the ArtZone has been open we have had several families return multiple times and eventually become members at the museum.
This major events, as well as a few others, were very exciting to be a part of during my internship. I cannot say enough good things about my experience at Gadsden Arts. The staff, namely my direct supervisor, Anissa Ford, were extremely helpful and engaging. I had many opportunities to create and teach lesson plans, learn about non-profit organizations, engage in community outreach, write grants, design marketing materials and print materials for the center. In reflection on my internship, I am sad to see the semester wrap up because I had so much fun and learned a great deal. But, I hardly think my involvement at Gadsden Arts will be coming to an end.