Summer Internship at an Auction House

 By Morgan Orangi, Career Services Ambassador

Senior Art History Major Kaitlyn McElwee spent the past summer working in the high intensity offices of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers. Sloans & Kenyon is located in Bethesda, MD and contains a consignment store in addition to their auction and exhibition spaces. They specialize in Asian art, but receive and auction items of various styles and media that range from $100-$100,000 in value.  

Kaitlyn found the Sloans & Kenyon internship through a family friend who recommended her to the owner. She had been in search of an auction house internship in order to round out her experience in art history related careers. The previous summer, she had interned in the education department at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC and now, while at school, she works in the Van Every Smith Galleries at the Visual Arts Center. Through these experiences she covers the business, museum, academic, and gallery aspects of the art world. Kaitlyn hopes that her various experiences will prepare her for her long-term goal of receiving her doctorate in Art History.

While working at Sloans & Kenyon, Kaitlyn catalogued items, constructed and deconstructed exhibitions, assisted with appraisals, and worked as a telephone bidder. Although she enjoyed all of her responsibilities, Kaitlyn especially appreciated the opportunity to discover new works and learn from items that she wouldn’t necessarily have seen in an art history class. Preparing for the auctions proved very hectic, especially when compared to Kaitlyn’s experience at the Mint, which had focused on developing exhibitions over much longer periods. While she found telephone bidding exhilarating, the work leading up to the auction required long hours and unexpected changes.

Kaitlyn’s art history courses and work in the gallery provided her with the foundation she needed to determine mediums, catalogue items, and organize exhibitions. At Sloans & Kenyon she built on this foundation by learning about the business side of art. She learned what types of items are and aren’t desirable, what qualities to look for in specific types of items, and how to deal with (sometimes crazy) clients.  

After graduation, Kaitlyn hopes to find a job at a gallery in Charlotte where she can spend a couple of years orienting herself in the contemporary art market.

Kaitlyn McElwee is an Art History major who works in the Van Every Smith Galleries and trains her dog in obscure tricks. 

Brillo Boxes and Campbell Soup: A Summer Experience at the Andy Warhol Museum

By McKenzie Roese, Career Services Ambassador

Claire Ittner '13 and one of the talented artists she met at the Andy Warhol Museum

Interested in art and its history? Looking to do something this summer outside the box that will get you hands-on experience in the art field? If this applies to you at all, then consider interning in the field of art management. It’s an experience that’s made a lasting impression on Claire Ittner ’13.

Being an English and Art History double major, Ittner has always been interested in learning about art culture and developing a better understanding of art and museum management. This past summer, she got the opportunity of a lifetime when she interned at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as their curatorial intern. She worked directly with both the Curator and Director’s office to receive a truly intimate understanding of the inner-workings of organizing and running a museum. While I chatted with her about her internship search, she reflected back stating, “I wanted to get some exposure to the curatorial side of the art world to see if that was a field I wanted to pursue long-term.” Fortunately, the Warhol gallery position provided the needed insight into museum work culture.

Claire poses with another artist and his work at the Warhol Museum

In terms of her day-to-day experience, the Warhol never ceased to keep her on her toes.
Her work would greatly depend on what events were happening at the Warhol at any given time. For her first month she helped prepare for the Warhol’s first-ever off-site exhibition. Reflecting on the experience, Ittner recalls: “I spent a lot of time at the beginning communicating with them, ordering materials for those who were international, checking on framing, etc. I helped with the install as well, which was really cool, because I was working literally next to the artists, handling their work. They were fantastic and explained their process and why it was that they made the piece they did.”

Ittner’s experience provided her with great insight into not only museum work, but also the field of art management – an experience that will help shape her long-term career pursuits in the art world. Plus, she also highlighted “It was quite fun to work with so many young, forward-thinking people!” So if you feel the urge to experience the art world this summer, the Andy Warhol Museum might just be the place for you.