As a major research university embedded within a thriving and diverse urban center, VCU is well positioned to offer its students learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom. The undergraduate and graduate curriculums place a high value on experiential learning, creativity, innovation, and practical educational opportunities that help students prepare for work and life after college. While our building is under construction, there is an immense amount of activity happening behind the scenes to prepare for primetime in 2017. We are conducting research for our opening programs and the first two years of exhibitions; planning a robust communications strategy for the opening year and beyond; developing operating procedures and administrative protocols; creating a retail plan for our cafe, shop, and event rentals; and more. With so much happening, we decided to launch our internship program before opening our doors. Internships at the ICA offer participants hands-on training in museum professions and a comprehensive overview of museum operations. Interns also gain insight into the national and international world of contemporary art, as well as experience in the non-profit sector—skills that are relevant and transferable to a variety of professional fields beyond art and museum work.

Introducing the Fall 2015 Intern Team
Britnie Dates, a senior in the School of the Arts (VCUarts) Fashion Merchandising program, joined the ICA team in September 2015. Dates’ internship focuses on research for the gift shop, looking at what works—and what doesn’t—at a variety of museum gift shops nationally as well as other retail gift stores in Richmond. With a focus on the unique, the handmade, and the intersection of the local and the global, Dates is researching retail strategies from product selection and pricing, to display cases and visual merchandising.

Kimberly Jacobs is a Ph.D. student in the VCUarts Art History department. Jacobs is the recipient of the ICA’s first competitive internship for course credit and is working closely with Curator Lauren Ross on research for exhibitions and public programs that the ICA will present during its first two years. Jacobs has over five years of experience in community engagement, museum education, and curatorial research. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Romare Bearden Fellowship at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where she co-curated the exhibition Anything but Civil: Kara Walker’s Vision of the Old South.

Susan Moser is a graduate student in the VCUarts Art History program with a concentration in Museum Studies. Her research interests focus on k-12 educational and outreach programs in non-collecting arts institutions. In 2014, Moser worked as an intern for Director Lisa Freiman, and in addition to her day-to-day research activities, she served as producer for the ICA’s 5-minute Missing Piece video. Moser rejoined the ICA team in 2015 as a part-time administrative assistant.

In the coming months, the ICA will be announcing several more internship opportunities for VCU students, with a focus on providing valuable experiences related to fields not typically associated with museum studies. New opportunities will be posted on our website as they become available.

Intern Stories from the Blog

A Forum of Ideas — A Collaborative Program with VCUarts Interior Design

This past spring, 38 undergraduate and 8 graduate VCU interior design students were given the opportunity to take their studies beyond the studio and into the real world. In a joint collaboration between ICA staff, School of the Arts Interior Design (IDES) faculty, and BCWH Architecture colleagues, students were asked to examine design challenges presented by the ICA’s forum, a space defined by a 36-foot ceiling, a glass facade, a curving wall, and a sweeping grand staircase.  (more…)

Q&A with Rahim Hassan: Teen Programming at the ICA

Last summer, the ICA and VCUarts Department of Sculpture + Extended Media jointly hosted four high school interns from area schools participating in the Cochrane Summer Economic Institute. The interns were tasked with conducting research on local arts programming for teens and providing recommendations for the creation of teen programs at both the ICA and Sculpture + Extended Media.

Rahim Hassan, one of the four interns and a Clover Hill High School senior, discusses his experience and takeaways from participating in this unique summer internship experience.

Listen as Rahim reflects on what the ICA could offer teens and read more of his Q&A with education assistant Alexander Crawford.

AC: What opportunities do you think the ICA can offer teens?

RH: The ICA’s teen programs will be more than a safe space for teens to meet and talk about important topics. Through offerings like a teen council and other leadership opportunities, teens can learn skills like public speaking, organization, teamwork and problem-solving. At the end of the summer internship my fellow interns and I suggested that a teen council be formed, one that would be responsible for creating innovative programs for fellow teens. This council would be an important voice in the institution that would make sure that programs for teens are developed by teens.

AC: What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship?

RH: Even though my colleagues and I were just teenagers in our first internships, it was really rewarding to see that our findings were taken seriously and actually provided important information to the ICA and Richmond arts community. When we gave our final presentation, people in attendance were interested in our findings and had questions about our research and our opinions. It really gave meaning to why we were researching teen programs. The work we did is giving back to something that is going to be great for the Richmond community. (more…)

Britnie Dates—ICA Intern and Trend Spotter

“Just like with art, you have to break the rules sometimes,” says Britnie Dates (BFA 2016), a Fashion Merchandising major with a minor in Art History at VCUarts, when describing her retail philosophy. “Even if trends indicate customers shouldn’t be interested in books, you know your customers best. Maybe you know your customers want books.”

Dates, a retail strategy intern at the ICA since the fall of 2015, conducts research about potential products and vendors for the future Lewis & Butler Foundation Gift Shop. She looks at comparable institutions across Richmond and nationally to find out what successful museum shops offer, and simultaneously, identifies unique products for the ICA’s patrons.

Dates’ relationship with the institute started more than a year ago when ICA Director Dr. Lisa Freiman gave a talk to Dates’ Emerging Leaders Program in the spring of 2015. “I’m pretty shy,” Dates says. Yet, she mustered up the courage to introduce herself. What started out as a casual conversation turned into an email exchange, a meeting to talk about Dates’ future career goals, and finally an internship at the ICA.

Behind the Scenes: Installing “Projected Claims”

As a Ph.D. student in art history and curatorial intern, I spend the majority of my time researching, writing, traveling, and gazing at works of art. Sounds fun, right? (Actually, it really is!) Yet for the sake of making it sound so sublime, I must tell you there is dirty work involved. One of the most arduous aspects of the curatorial process is installing the exhibition. There is a lot of planning and drafting involved — as well as painting, spackling, lighting, and sometimes construction — but when the art is placed inside the gallery, along those bare walls…that’s when the gazing gets real.

Projected Claims is a delicately balanced presentation of immersive videos and enigmatic images, which represent Evron’s oeuvre of film, photography, and video. The curatorial vision for the exhibition began with Lauren Ross — who I have the pleasure of assisting during my internship at the ICA — as she sought to expand the architectural themes of Evron’s images by transforming the Depot Gallery space into a cinematic environment for contemplation.  (more…)