You might think for museum interns, it's all about the "stuff," especially when they're interning at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, home to 4,000 cultural artifacts and a permanent collection holding more than 20,000 pieces of art.
While Susan (Suzy) Lewis ’19 and Amber Mustafic ’19 are thrilled to get up close and personal with the works of renowned artists like Auguste Rodin and M.C. Escher, it’s the human connection that truly gratifies them.
“I had my first experience with condition reporting on three Auguste Rodin sculptures that were part of the CSFAC’s exhibition of the Morton and Tobia Mower collection. I was inches away, inspecting for damage, ticks and nicks and whatnot, and looking at it with my white gloves on, and using a special flashlight. It kind of just shatters the way that you normally view artwork and brings you into this new world where you don’t have the same separation that you had in the past,” Lewis says.
Their internships are funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and managed by Registrar and Director of the Museum Internship Program Michael Howell. These Colorado College interns get to handle some of the collection’s most valuable pieces — making it one of the most unique museum internship programs in the country.
They work in the basement of the CSFAC and their responsibilities, similar in many ways to Howell’s and to Assistant Registrar Michael Lorusso’s, involve managing collections, handling art, researching, and learning about other institutions.
Mustafic recalls being present when members of the Gila River Indian Community came to the museum for three ceremonial objects that were being repatriated to them.
“We took them to our pots and baskets room down in collections. It was a very moving experience. I like the human side of this job and especially the repatriation work,” Mustafic says. “Sometimes it hits me that I’m around these pieces that are hundreds of years old, and it’s such a privilege.”
Howell, Mustafic, and Lewis recently toured museums in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, where the tight-knit team learned about Puebloan art and culture and interacted with museum staff. Mustafic and Lewis have taken the initiative of starting a blog to share their experiences. They wrote about their presentation to a Block 5 weaving class in one post. Another post covered their role in a condition assessment with a painting conservator who was examining Arthur Dove’s Fog Horns. Read more at underthefac.blogspot.com.