Devon Mifflin, Levinson Intern for campus engagement, talks about her experience as a Hood Senior Intern.
What does your internship at the Hood Museum entail?
As the Levinson Intern for Campus Engagement, I work with Isadora Italia, Campus Engagement Coordinator, to make the museum more accessible to campus audiences. Each term, we organize and promote student events, facilitate weekly Museum Club meetings, and develop new engagement strategies. In addition to planning in-person programs, like the Hood After 5 series, we have also expanded our digital engagement. I have had the opportunity to help design and implement virtual outreach initiatives, such as the Look and Listen playlists, the #HoodMuseumFromHome campaign, and the Alumni in the Arts panel series.
Each term, week, and day at the museum has brought exciting projects and campus engagement possibilities. It has been extremely rewarding to assist with the creation of novel campus engagement initiatives and see undergraduates gravitate towards the museum.
Why were you interested in a Hood Museum internship?
When I was applying to college, I was looking for a school with an active art community within which I could participate and grow. During the process, I learned that Dartmouth was undergoing a major renovation of its museum and that the institution was eager to engage campus audiences. Before I even became a member of the Class of 2021, I was enthusiastic about participating in the art and museum communities.
In my first few years at Dartmouth, I joined the Museum Club and interned at modern and contemporary art galleries. Once I learned about the Hood Museum internship program, I was especially keen to deepen my involvement with the museum and learn more about the art world. I am extremely grateful to have had the unmatched opportunities to work with and learn from the Hood staff and to have curated my own Space for Dialogue exhibition.
What has been the most memorable moment of your internship so far?
Working at the museum has truly been one of the highlights of my time at Dartmouth, so this is a particularly difficult question! Although I will cherish many memories from my internship, I think that the installation of my Space for Dialogue exhibition was one of the greatest privileges of my Dartmouth experience. It was indescribably rewarding to stand in Gutman Gallery and see months of planning become a reality.
What is the topic of your Space for Dialogue exhibition and why did you choose it?
In my exhibition, VISION 2020: What Do You See?, I highlight works from the museum's collection that grapple with the impact of visual media and technology on body image and self-perception in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Each approaching this topic from a different vantage point, the artists encourage conversation about beauty ideals, gender, and agency in mass media.
When given the privilege of curating my own exhibition, I was overcome by the possibilities and responsibility of such a project. I wanted to create an exhibition that would galvanize dialogue and be accessible to visitors of all art historical backgrounds.
When I was browsing through the museum's database, I started writing down recurrent questions: How does technology affect our self-perception? What role does distortion play in contemporary beauty standards? I soon started to think about how I could create an exhibition that contended with these questions and invited viewers to consider their own experiences in relation to the ideas espoused by the chosen artists.
Bringing together artists with diverse life experiences and artistic practices, the exhibition underscored the complexity of technology and the influence of visual media on societal and individual beauty norms.
What was the most surprising part of the curatorial process for your Space for Dialogue exhibition?
The most surprising part of the curatorial process was the installation day itself. (View a time-lapse of the installation here!) After months of preparation, including researching my topic, painstakingly choosing artworks, writing wall labels and brochure text, and designing the gallery layout, I thought that everything was going according to plan. But once I had all seven works in Gutman Gallery, I realized that there was something off about the layout that I had created with my mini, to-scale model. Although I knew that curators often adjusted their layouts once all of the works were in the space together, I assumed that mine would not change. After allowing myself to break from my initial plan and explore new possibilities, the exhibition-preparation team and I were able to devise a new layout solution. This was a great lesson in always staying open to change and revision. The final arrangement gave the two largest works of art more room to breathe and made the space feel more open.
What was your first encounter with the Hood Museum?
My first encounter with the museum was with the Museum Club in the fall of 2018. During one of our meetings, we had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the museum before it would open to the public the following January. I remember walking around in awe of the bright, new galleries, the incredible works of art, and the installations still underway.
If you could borrow one object from the Hood Museum's collection to display in your home, what would it be?
Such a difficult choice! But, as of now, I would borrow Ellsworth Kelly's Green-White (1961).
What five words best describe your internship experience at the Hood Museum?