A Postcard From: Amaka Eze ’19

My summer working at the African American Museum in Philadelphia has proven eye-opening in all respects. Coming into this internship I had very little understanding of what the daily-doings of a public programmer were, let alone those of an entire museum staff. Since these murky beginnings I have developed a strong relationship to my work and colleagues, and further, feel prepared to engage in the work of museum studies in the future.

My initial objectives for this internship were:

  1. Contextualization: working with colleagues to think about how to narrow in on a specific exhibition, understanding thematic content and subsequent complimentary programming
  2. Learning marketing languages: social media promotion, incorporating institutional values into promotional material, and paying attention to specific audience contexts
  3. Learning the nuances of AAMP as an institution

I’ve stayed strongly to my objectives and thus far have exercised all of these new skills. For example:

  1. I create all content for the AAMP social media accounts and work collaboratively on e-newletters.
  2. I meet and collaborate with artists, the director of curatorial services and fellow programming colleagues.
  3. I have become comfortable and confident in my knowledge of AAMP as an institution.

Given all of these amazing opportunities, I can’t help but be surprised by just how hands-on my time at AAMP has been. My supervisor and colleagues are extremely supportive and have given me lots of creative responsibility. For instance, as we plan for the upcoming fall/winter exhibition, I have been integral in the conceptualization and planning of five public programming events. My opinion and creative expertise has been respected and encouraged, and I see my work being taken seriously by my colleagues.

Thinking towards the future, I hope to continue my work in black cultural spaces, and specifically, the intersection of black creative and activist spaces. I think that I work very well in an arts-oriented environment, as it has afforded me a more dynamic daily schedule than most office jobs, and through this, have further honed my workshopping and collaborative capacities. My supervisor has become a mentoring figure and is helping me to think towards the future in regards to another possible position with AAMP during the year.

As mentioned previously re: learning objectives, I have learned a lot about the inner-workings of this particular institution and I think that is the most valuable lesson thus far. Museums seem like such enigmas, and the day-to-day tasks feel hard to grasp based on elaborate, perfectly-executed exhibitions; however, getting to know the roles and responsibilities for myself and my colleagues has granted me with the opportunity to even further develop my team-building skills.

Academically speaking, I am definitely interested in pursuing more museum studies courses now that I have had this experience. As a Philosophy major and Africana minor, I have spent my time at Bryn Mawr honing my critical thinking and writing skills, working to think across contexts and through thick, philosophical questions. Entering this position, I wondered how much of these skills would be of use to me in the realm of programming; however, I realize now how crucial it is to have these kinds of awarenesses when working at a creative institution which aims to reflect and cater to the black community of Philadelphia.

Learning the inner-workings of this institution has made me even more open to considering the idea of a career in museums/cultural institutions outside of academia, and I hope to continue building these relationships and exploring academically the different possibilities for a career in museums and curatorial work.