19:30 AM to 5:30 PM. three days a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 — 8 hours
A Newly Minted Intern
There are twenty five of us. We arrived at 9:30 AM at the Education and Research Building at 4 West 54th Street for orientation where we first go around the room introducing ourselves and what department we will be working in. We’re given an overview of museum policy and the structure of the twelve week internship where we’re told that in addition our departmental work, each Tuesday we’ll participate in activities involving the museum’s various collections, exhibitions, and departments. We then go to security to get our photo ID and from there on to our separate departments. Most departments got only one intern but the library was lucky enough to get two. My co-intern Megan DeArmond also is a Pratt student and we’re happy to have someone to share this experience with. Once at the library we meet our supervisor, Jennifer Tobias, head of library services, who goes over our tasks and schedule. We will mostly be paging (retrieving patron requests of books and items that we will physically pull from the shelves), checking in and out items, and unpacking and packing items both in Manhattan and at MoMA Queens, their facility in Long Island City where the bulk of the collection has been recently moved to. We then meet library chief Milan Hughston who gives us an overview of the library and his background. He also interviews both of us about our backgrounds and interests and takes us to lunch at the employee cafeteria where we share more background information. After lunch we go back with all the interns for museum computer system orientation (museum emails, employee sites, etc.) and then head back to the library where we meet the rest of the library staff, getting our desks and computers sorted out and a brief overview of what our daily routine will be.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 — 16 hours
First full day interning at the Manhattan library. The library reading room, reference desk, and offices are located on the 6th floor at 4 West 54th Street with the special collection stacks on the 8th floor. Librarian and conservator Victoria Wong goes over the Millenium software that is used for all aspects of the library’s work flow — circulation, (checking in and out items), requests, cataloging, and labeling. This entailed logging into to circulation for getting the paging/requests lists and checking in and out of books. Once the requests are printed out she took us up to the 8th floor where the special collections are located to retrieve and process the requests. These include artists books, rare items, and some periodicals with the rest of the collection located out at MoMA Queens in Long Island City. Once items are retrieved they are scanned and checked out through Millenium and then brought down to the reading room where they are placed on shelves behind reference desk by each patron’s name. We also unpack boxes from Queens and also place them behind the reference desk. Patrons include museum staff and members of the general public, both of whom get their own library cards and make their requests through the library’s online catalog, DADABASE. The last part of the day is used to pack books and material that are returned and sent back to Queens or brought upstairs to be re-shelved.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 — 24 hours
This day in Manhattan is similar to the previous one—paging, re-shelving, packing, and unpacking. Vicki also trains me on labeling which entails logging into Millenium, scanning the barcode of newly acquired books, printing out labels, and placing them on the spines or fronts of books so that they can be incorporated into the collection. After these first two days in Manhattan it’s realized that since the bulk of the collection is housed in Queens there’s much more paging is done there and from now on I will be going there on Thursday and Fridays. Tuesdays will be in Manhattan because of intern activities.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 — 32 hours
First intern activity at MoMA gets cancelled (which was supposed to be a walkthrough of the fifth floor Painting and Sculpture Galleries with the collection specialist Cara Manes), and is rescheduled for November 17th so Megan and I do shelf checking. The collection had been rearranged over the summer with most of the collection going out to Queens and some material newly housed in Manhattan so there were some wrongly shelved items. This gives us another opportunity to explore the collection. The end of the day is a MoMA arranged meet and greet for all the 12-week interns with snacks and soft drinks in the employee cafeteria.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 — 40 hours
First time at MoMA Queens — a very large facility in Long Island City in a former Swingline Stapler factory and warehouse. Here is where the bulk of the collection lives in climate controlled stacks. Vicki goes over the drill here in Queens, which is similar to Manhattan but on a much larger scale as there are thousands of more items in dozens of more locations. Locations include books categorized by Library of Congress, MoMA’s own cataloging system, and by size, artist files, exhibition catalogs, publications, oversized books, books organized by size, photo files, and on and on. The paging is much more intense, where in Manhattan there are between 10 to 30 requests per day, here there can be 30 to over 100. Paging is our main task and then if there’s time try and re-shelve what’s been returned from Manhattan.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 — 48 hours
Return to MoMA Queens with same cycle of paging, re-shelving, and labeling but on Fridays Megan and I work together so the paging and other tasks are split between the two of us.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 — 56 hours
Second intern activity MoMA Manhattan. A two-hour overview of MoMA Publications with Charles Kim, Associate Publisher and Emily Hall, Editor. The Publications department is run as a separate publishing house that is a thirteen person self sufficient department within MoMA publishing approximately 30 books a year including catalogs and children’s books. There’s an editorial board that meets with curators who present ideas to them. They also oversee the text for the labeling of works in exhibitions. We’re shown through the production process of manuscript and editorial work though to design, layout, and printing and binding. Rest of the day spent shelving and shelf checking.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1 — 64 hours
At MoMA Queens solo to do paging, re-shelving, and labeling. There are two pagings, one at 10 AM where there were 32 request and one at 3 PM where there were 25. After retrieving, scanning and checking out the books are packed and sent for delivery back to Manhattan either for a 1 PM shipment or one after 6 PM.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2 — 72 hours
MoMA Queens with Megan for paging, re-shelving, and packaging. We find some interesting things in the stacks.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6 — 80 hours
Third intern activity MoMA Manhattan — The History of MoMA with Michelle Harvey, The Rona Roob Museum Archivist. Culled from the museum’s archive it’s a fascinating 90 minute presentation and slide show on the history of the museum. Three wealthy and influential women — Miss Lillie P. Bliss, Mrs. Cornelius J. Sullivan, and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. with original trustees A. Conger Goodyear, Paul Sachs, Frank Crowninshield, and Josephine Boardman Crane, created The Museum of Modern Art in 1929 hiring its founding director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., with the intention to help people understand and enjoy the visual arts of our time, and provide New York with “the greatest museum of modern art in the world.” We then are shown an overview of highlights from the museum’s founding to the present.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8 — 88 hours
Return to MoMA Queens solo to do paging, re-shelving, and unpacking. There’s a large return shipment from Manhattan that needs to be unpacked, checked in, and re-shelved. Assistant Librarian, Aria Marco who’s working with me in Queens today asks me to document the shipment to show the potential work flow problems.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9 — 96 hours
MoMA Queens with Megan for paging, re-shelving, and packaging. We also get to meet with Librarian Philip Parente who gives us an overview of the cataloging structure at the library. Philip has been with MoMA for twelve years with a background in photography. He goes over how the first software system was Arlin and that the museum switched to Millenium when the NYARC consortium was formed to join the library catalogs of MoMA, The Frick, and The Brooklyn Museum. He showed us how Millenium is he backside of DADABASE and the underpinnings of the catalog structure.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13 — 104 hours
Fourth intern activity MoMA Manhattan — Exhibition Design and Production with Mack Cole-Edelsack, Design and Production Manager. This was an overview of all aspects of exhibition design. We where shown a gallery getting ready for a new show on Jackson Pollack, the model room in one of the sub-basements of the museum where scale models of the galleries and special exhibitions are made, and the carpentry, framing, and lighting/electrical shops. We were also shown the process how how wall colors are chosen, how pedestals are decided on, and how this department conducts gallery checks every day for regular maintenance updates.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 — 112 hours
At MoMA Queens solo to do paging, re-shelving, and if time labeling. Today’s requests take up most of my time, there were 25 at 10 AM and then 22 at 3 PM. Found some interesting things on the shelves.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16 — 120 hours
MoMA Queens with Megan for paging, re-shelving, and packaging. We meet with Associate Librarian and Head Cataloger Danny Fermon who goes over the history of the cataloging system at MoMA. Beaumont Newhall was the first curator of photography and became the first librarian at MoMA in 1935. Newhall came up with a cataloging system based on a mix of Dewey, Cutter numbers, (based on telephone numbers), and by artists last name alphabetically. This became more and more unwieldy as the system didn’t offer artists by group (i.e. German Expressionism or Cubism), or country. In 2002 the museum started using Library of Congress classification which offered expanded system for numbering of artists, exhibition catalogs, artists book, periodicals, etc. This was a major improvement but resulted in a split collection where some items are still shelved under the old numbers, (such as the photography collection), while the rest is cataloged with LOC numbers. The new system also is easier for the shared cataloging environment of NYARC and is more granular and offers more detail for description.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20 — 128 hours
Fifth intern activity MoMA Manhattan.—Walk through Picasso Sculpture with assistant curator Luise Mahler. The exhibition is located on the 4th floor where part of the permanent collection is usually located because the curators felt that the lower ceiling created a more intimate space for the art. They also decided to place only one label in each room as opposed to labels by each piece of art because Picasso during is life indicated that he had not wanted anything to interfere with the viewing of his sculptures.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22 — 136 hours
Solo MoMA Queens paging and re-shelving. Today’s two pagings broke down as 41 requests in the morning and 19 in the afternoon.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 — 144 hours
MoMA Queens paging and re-shelving with Megan. We also meet with Assistant Librarian, Aria Marco who has been working on incorporating and cataloging periodicals into the collection and she oversees and updates print and online subscriptions. She tells us the stacks used to be open to museum staff but now they are closed and staff has to request all items including periodicals. Periodicals used to be put into bound volumes but for conservation and preservation are now housed in acid-free boxes. She shows us how they are cataloged with a serial module in Millennium.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3 — 152 hours
Sixth intern activity MoMA Manhattan.—Conservation tour and overview with paper, painting, and sculpture conservators. There are six conservation departments and we’re shown examples of stabilization, climate control, frame and mount issues, light damage, structural esthetics, retouching, paper conservation, adhesive selection, paint and canvas damage, color fading, and how these are dealt with.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5 — 160 hours
Solo Queens page was the largest yet with 50 in the morning page and 60 in the afternoon. The first time I couldn’t finish and left some to check out and pack the next morning. No time for re-shelving or labeling.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6 — 168 hours
Queens page with Megan and an interview with Bibliographer Sandy Sumano. Sandy has been at the museum 5 years and is primarily processing and cataloging Latin American acquisitions. This is an endowed position so it’s somewhat separate from the rest of the library’s function — for instance it has it’s own backlog. Since she started working on this the collection has grown from 4,000 to over 23,000 items. The acquisitions not only include books, but ephemera, artists books, and catalogs. Sandy says that MoMA’s maintains high catalog standards which include full cataloging of ephemera. She also showed how donations are notated in the MARC record in the 541 field. Besides this endowed position she also deals with cataloging special collection material.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10 — 176 hours
Seventh intern activity MoMA Manhattan — meet with Glenn Lowry, museum director. We congregate in a large conference room that used to house the library awaiting the arrival the Glenn Lowry for an informal chat in a very formal setting. Lowry has been the director of the museum for 20 years and he chats about keeping watch over the entire institution and its burgeoning collection while keeping to the original mission in mind. This touches on the acquisition of “The Art of our Time” and staying current as well as historical. He talks of the recent past such as the merging with PS 1 and the future with the new construction and addition of gallery space as well as the issues of creating a better entrance. He goes over the structure of how acquisitions are made — curatorial staff proposes to a trustee committee where over 100 people may be involved. He says that “museums are places of seduction” and when acquiring he tries to keep in mind “radical fracturing, new possibilities, disruptions in the narrative, inclusivity, and diversity.” He sums up that the museum’s acquisitions will ultimately be proven right or wrong by history and time.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12 — 184 hours
Solo MoMA Queens paging and re-shelving. A more manageable paging today with the break down being 38 requests in the morning and 40 in the afternoon. Still did not leave much time for anything else but did take time to look a some interesting things on the shelves.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13 — 192 hours
Queens page with Megan and an interview with Librarian and Conservator Vicki Wong. She showed us her conservation and preservation lab in Queens and how items are accessed for conservation, which are divided into three levels:
Level 1: conservation projects take less than 15 minutes to complete.
Level 2: projects take 15 minutes to 2 hours.
Level 3: projects take more than 2 hours to finish.
She showed us various items that are in the process of being preserved and various housing options.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17 — 200 hours
Eighth intern activity MoMA Manhattan.—Fifth floor Painting and Sculpture galleries walkthrough collection specialist Cara Manes. She talks about how the permanent collection galleries are being used as a testing ground for exhibition ideas. The original layout had been art grouped in separate media with Alfred Barr’s conception of modernism. In the new iteration a mix of all media will be shown in a chronological manner with curators from different departments all working together to tell the story of modernism. The idea is to balance the institutional history with other stories that encompass more than the Europe-centric outlook the museum had been founded on.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19 — 208 hours
Solo MoMA Queens paging and re-shelving with the paging today breaking down as 27 requests in the morning and 40 in the afternoon. Was able to get some re-shelving done between the morning and afternoon page.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 — 216 hours
Queens page and re-shelve with Megan and an interview with Bibliographer David Senior who talked to us about acquiring and cataloging Artists’ Books. Over the 12 years he’s been at MoMA he’s developed close relationships with many artists and the collectives Printed Matter and Franklin Furnace (who’s entire archive was donated to the museum). David went over the challenge of cataloging Artists’ Books. Many of these items are one-of-a-kind or part of extremely limited editions and are often included in many exhibitions.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1 — 224 hours
Final intern activity MoMA Manhattan — a walkthrough of the 6th floor exhibit Transmission: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America (1960-1980). This show was put together relatively quickly once it was decided that the Picasso Sculpture show would be housed on the fourth floor. This show consisted entirely of pieces from the museum’s collection to tell the story of the dialog between Eastern European and Latin American artists in the 1960s and 70s. Curators from every department including the library were involved providing items for the telling of this story through the museum’s own collection.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3 — 232 hours
The last solo MoMA Queens paging and re-shelving. Paging today relatively light — 30 requests in the morning and 16 in the afternoon. Was able to get a fair amount of re-shelving done.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4 — 240 hours total
Final day of our internship — Megan and I in Queens for a last page. There was a staff meeting with some cake and thanks for our help. We found a few things hidden behind our desks and checked out and packaged our last round of requests bound for Manhattan.