The Met

As many of you know, I am working as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of art this summer. More specifically I am interning I’m the Design Department; I am an assistant to graphic desigers and exhibit designers. The post will try to cover the ongoings of the past two weeks.

I work Monday through Thusday. Walking in the museum on Mondays when only staff and the “loyal patrons” are allowed is quite an experience. That being said, my first day, a Monday, was very eventful. First, there was a press conference for the opening of the Francis Bacon show. One of the graphic designs brought me around and, in addition to pointing out every mistake and typo she needed to fix, explained to me how large wall photos are hung. If you get to go to the Francis Bacon show you will notice a photo of the existencialist’s studio. First there is a radiator in the photo that was used the scale the photo to full a scale. Second, you will notice raised lines running down the wall where the photo is. Wall photos are printed on wallpaper and hung such that they overlap each other, thus, the raised line.

There was also a visitor on that Monday. The first lady Michelle Obama. She cut the ribbon to reopen the American Wing. Even though I couldn’t get near her, it still felt momentous that we were under the same roof.

There are two sides to working at the Met. There is office work and “on site” work. The office work for the graphic designers requireS photoshop, indesign, and using one of the seven printers. So, I feel like I am enrolled in IDM I again. They have four plotters that print from any computer on demand, one b&w printer, two color printers, and machine that etches type onto a special paper that peels and sticks to walls. Office work for exhibit designers requires using at cad program called vectorworks. A document in vectorworks stays in one scale unless you change the scale manually which is a pain. Steve Lee would probably love vectorworks.

On site jobs for graphic designers includes going to one of the fove inhouse printing presses and posting the most recent draft of text. This includes labels and wall text. On site work for exhibit designers include instructing movers where each case goes and measuring walls and doors.

Primarly, I am helping the exhibit and graphic designer with the show “Afganistan”. The travelling show is important in the art world as well as the political world. The art on display was hiding in a vault away from the Taliban whom were trying to destroy all art because of the representaions of Pagan worship. Three Afgan men who were hiding the art where beatened by the Taliban conceled the secret location of the art. Over the exit of the gallery will be text that will be in Arabic and translated into English. It will read something along the lines that art shows the spirit of the culture. This is interesting because Michelle Obama said a silat line when reopening the New American Wing.

Yesterday some of the art arrived including gold. One thing that I quickly learned about gold is that anyone in charge of gold in a museum is very frantic and jumpy at the site of any people they do not recognize. Even though I am on staff and have the official bdge around my neck, I fit the unrecognized person profile because I am a new intern. Art made of gold is different ten any other art form. If you steal a painting or a sculpture, nobody will buy it off of you because displaying originals that have recently been reported as stolen can attract a lot of unwanted attention. However, gold can be easily melted down and sold on the black market no probem. So i can now say that I was kicked of Afganistan.

One of the most interesting departments in the Met is “Conservation and Preservation”. Subsections of the department include object conservation, textile conservation, and furniture conservation. Any one that has to deal with any sort of stiching or sowing has to be a master of their craft and history. They have to know every single stitch and knot from every single culture from every time period at any given time. When I was working with some movers in Afganistan, I asked what else they do besides moving display cases (which, by the way are very heavy beacause sandbag are put in them to avoid accidental movement from people leaning on the cases). The mover said that if the art technitions couldn’t carry art then the movers take over. I asked if anything had ever been broken. He said “oh sure! Once we put a capping hole through a tapestry and it was rushed the conservation and preservation. Within 24 hours, you couldn’t tell that anything had happened”. Can you imagine the weight on that poor stitcher’s shoulders? I can’t. The another cool part about conservation and preservation is that to clan art that has gotten dusty, technitions use a very delicate vacuum cleaner that has a tube extension that , in section ranges from the size of a nickel or a straw in section. The vacuum is so delicate that the speed of the suction is so slow so as not to destroy the relics.

I am curious to know what other students are doing this summer. I’m sure that the range of internships or self commissioned projects are all valid to log on our forum. Blog I suppose.


5 Responses to “The Met”

  1. 1 Karno
    2009/06/02 at 2:14 pm

    LANGER! Your post about the MET is really interesting to read! It really inspired me to write something about what I’ve been doing here in Singapore so far. I will hopefully write something about it very soon. Take care!

  2. 2 dj2d
    2009/06/02 at 6:01 pm

    It must be fantastic to be able to wander through there when closed to the public!

  3. 3 Liza
    2009/06/02 at 6:47 pm

    Yes. But there are so many security procedures you have to go through. I got fingerprinted. Every time I enter an exhibit that is closed off to the public that has art in it, I have to sign in. I have to wear my badge everywhere. But after all the procedures, I was able to, for example, put final labels around a medieval scroll. If I had moved my finger down an inch, I would have been touching the precious calligraphy on the parchment.

  4. 4 Danny Burdzy
    2009/06/02 at 7:51 pm

    What type of procedure did you go through to get this internship? And is it paid? It is definitely worth it if it isn’t, but I know travel expenses for people OUTSIDE of New York might keep them away from such a tremendous opportunity.

    My friend is actually interning for free at a PR firm in the city in hopes of one day getting a job at a company like Conde Nast. Unfortunately, she is paying a TON in commuting costs and is working Thurs-Sun to make up some of the costs for this Mon-Wed internship. We live about an hour outside of the city.

  5. 5 Liza
    2009/06/02 at 8:29 pm

    I have two family friends who work in the Met. One passed on my resume, and the other put in a good word. The internship that I have is not listed on the website, but there are two other interns (one of them is also working at MTV). Unfortunately, the internship is unpaid and my parents are compensating for transportation, but the relationships that I have been making will no doubt be useful in the future. For example, today a friend of one of the graphic designers came to visit, and he happens to be “Deputy Director” of the North Carolina Museum of Art. He told me to send him my resume when the time comes and mention his friend.

    Yesterday was a very slow day. The graphic and exhibit designers that are working on “Afghanistan” were very busy and the gallery was reaching capacity for number of people that could be in the gallery when art was being cleaned and “out”. So I was working on a tedious task that had merit but not joy. I was comparing CMYK swatches to Ben Moore swatches and to find the combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The combination was used for the fill on a label that would be placed next to the art and on a wall with the Ben Moore paint. The digital swatch was laminated, cut to the “bleed”, and compared to a large Ben Moore swatch underneath a light that is used in the galleries. Then to analyze how close the digital was to the paint, multiple angles were taken to look at the label to make sure that the label still blended in with the paint. For any one who is so interested in trivial facts, the Ben Moore swatches were HC-82 and HC-95 (HC= Historical Color). Very important. Very boring.

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