Week 1 Internship: Placements, My City Buses, and Mentors

This week marks the first week of our internship. Monday, we went downtown all dressed up to the Iziko Museums to hear about our museum placements. Most of the Iziko Museums in Cape Town are centered around the Company Gardens and back-dropped by the stunning mountains. This is my work setting—crazy! I was assigned to a separate department from Ashley and Billy who are working in conservation. I’m working in (drumroll, please) the Art Education department housed in an annex space right next to the National Gallery that has a well-lit library above. We began our internship on Wednesday, leaving Tuesday to ride the bus and figure out our stops before starting the workweek.

So, short tangent about My City Bus (Cape Town’s city public trans). My City Bus is pretty cool. I live barely two blocks from the nearest stop, and the busses are so clean and nice and—unlike Chicago—the seats don’t smell like pee! Thank you, Cape Town, for your lovely bus system. On the other hand though, busses only run every hour on weekends. So when we tried to catch a bus to Hout Bay for the market this weekend and ending up missing our transfer stop, we had to get an Uber which was alright anyways. Uber’s here aren’t too expensive and apparently all the college kids are usin’ ‘em. Okay, back to work.

The internship so far is amazing! My mentor’s name is Yentl, and she’s seriously so cool. The first morning, we just sat and drank tea for the first hour getting to know one another. Her philosophies for her work as an art educator such as being teachable and flexible and always seeking to reach the audiences who don’t feel that museums are for them is so inspiring and makes me feel like I’m in the right place. The actual work in which I’m doing is so diverse as well. Since it’s winter break for the school kids, the annex hosted a robotics workshop and at the end of the week, I was able to help lead the kids in a fun collaging art project. I’m also helping Yentl prepare for an exhibition the education department (her and her co-worker) are preparing for December all based on the curriculum taught in South African schools. A total of six gallery spaces have been set aside for the show, and the art educators are able to pick from anything in the museum’s collection. So on Thursday, Yentl and I went to the storage units in the National Gallery, collecting titles and photographing artworks. Even though I’m in the art education department, I’m getting a taste of curatorial work as well which is crazy and stressful and messy, but really cool. And beyond that, I’m prepping some research for educational packets for the museum’s upcoming exhibit on the South African artist Irma Stern which is allowing me to using my writing skills too. Our first week flew by so quickly, the work days as well, and I’m looking forward to a full week of interning.