The University of Sydney’s Department of Art History offers postgraduate students enrolled in the Art Curating or Museum & Heritage Studies programs the opportunity to undertake up to two internship placements as part of their studies, at a wide range of host institutions in New South Wales, elsewhere in the country, or even overseas.
Visible Storage & Study Center, Brooklyn Museum, New York (photo: Alex Burchmore, 2020)
Our placements not only provide students with valuable professional knowledge and skills that directly benefit their career progression within the GLAM sector but allow for an application of the concepts and theories taught in our coursework units to a real-world context. This fusion of theory and praxis is a particular strength of the internship program, appreciated by students and host institution supervisors alike.
“Alignment of vocational and institutional aims and ambitions is a defining feature of the internship program, founded on a commitment to a breaking down of the barriers that all too often separate students and staff, industry and education.”
Many of our students already work in the sector and greatly value the chance to make new connections or reconnect with former colleagues, while also expanding their professional skillset. For those who aspire to enter the sector, on the other hand, the mentorship they receive and the expanded network of contacts they develop are invaluable, sometimes leading directly to offers of temporary or even ongoing employment.
The Department enjoys a close relationship with many host institutions across Australia and the world, including: public and private museums and heritage sites; commercial galleries; auction houses; fair and festival organisers; peak bodies and professional organisations; public heritage consultancy firms; and government agencies. We advertise a selection of available projects at the start of each semester for which any and all students can apply, while also working closely with individual students who may have something more specific in mind to find an institution and project suited to their interests.
“Placements are generally limited to a duration of 140 hours, or 20 full-time working days, on a schedule arranged in conversation between students and their supervisors – most of our students prefer to dedicate 1-2 days a week, while others may need or prefer a more intensive timeframe.”
Working closely with the Department’s Internship Officer, students and supervisors allocate their time on placement to the completion of a clear set of tasks that together contribute to a coherent overarching project, for example, the accessioning of a recently donated collection, completion of curatorial research to understand more about a set of objects, development of a public exhibition, or the creation of digital content and online experiences. These tasks are also generally related to a specific aspect of work in the sector, for example, site interpretation, collection management, or public programming.
The projects that can be completed within these guidelines are as enormously diverse, exciting, and sometimes unexpected as the sector itself, not to mention our students’ professional and personal interests and obsessions. This section of GLAM@Sydney is dedicated to the many rich and inspiring stories that have emerged, and that continue to emerge, from these partnerships.