The Starbucks Experiment

Monday, June 05, 2006

Katharine's Last Stand

So today is my Last Day at the Gallery, and i'm feeling v. sentimental. i can't believe i've been here for ten months, since i think it basically took me six months to hit my stride. my departmental-farewell lunch today was the best lunch we've ever had. how can i leave now that the goings gotten so good? everyone seems genuinely sad to see me go and says i've done great work, so maybe this past year wasn't the waste that i've been feeling it to be lately. when you take an unpaid internship on the assumption that you'll be in graduate school in a year, and then don't get into graduate school, its hard not to feel like you should have gotten a real job a year ago. but no job in the world would have taught me so much about museums, or let me do so much original research, or provided so many resources as this one at the National Gallery of Art. it's been an unbelievably cushy environment, and i feel v. privileged that i was a part of it.

i really do hope to be back someday, although it seems unfeasible. i'm applying to the staff assistant pool, so that if any openings come up they'll have my resume on hand. but what i really want is to spend the majority of my post-graduate career at an institution like this one. one full of experts and money and high standards. it's absolutely amazing what a wide variety of people call this place home: from the staff assistants in development with their cute shoes, to the interns in conservation who wear no shoes; from academic curators who have never made an art work in their life, to the artists in the registrar's office who move art from storage to gallery in order to pay the bills. from the Publications department to the Publicity office, this place has security guards, maintenance crew, exhibition designers, IT people, not to mention the framers and silk screeners and gardeners (oh my!). i suppose there are lots of large institutions whose scale of operations seems vaguely on par with a small nation; universities for example, are far larger and more ungainly than the gallery. but maybe that's the difference. the gallery doesn't feel ungainly or fragmented. it feels surprisingly cohesive, as though everyone here has a common mission and a common love. i imagine our ideas on art vary enormously, but we all think it's important. and who wouldn't want to work with a bunch of art lovers their whole life? we're such a charming breed :-)


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