My name is Emilia Eberwein, and I am a recent grad from Skidmore, where I majored in Dance and minored in both Arts Administration and Business. Friday marked my last day working at the National Museum of Dance as their arts administrative intern. Throughout the whole experience, I consistently thought to myself that every day working at the museum was different and unique to the one that came previously. My job consisted of working in the office filling deposits, purchase orders, gift shop reports, sending letters to new members, and updating/organizing mailing lists. The staff at the museum is very small so I was able to work in other areas as well, and always had a new list of tasks for the day. I had days where I helped in the archives, where I learned the process for archiving and organizing new donations. One of the donations we received was so interesting to go through because it contained programs, photographs, and newspaper articles pertaining to what was happening in the dance world during the early 20th century. As a dance major, the other intern (who is also a Skidmore graduate) and I had so much fun seeing famous names of dancers in the old programs and the ballets they danced, after learning about them in our dance history course. During the archiving process, we wrote down descriptions of each article in the donation, created accession numbers for the items, and took pictures of the items to input into the archiving system which is called PastPerfect.
During my time at the museum, I had the opportunity to meet the photographer Joanne Savio, who is the photographer for the exhibit that is currently in the foyer titled “On Being Still.” Each of the photographs is of a dancer or a choreographer such as Trisha Brown, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Elizabeth Streb, and Merce Cunningham. Savio has been taking photos since the 80s of these artists and has quite the collection. Hearing her talk about her work gave me better insight into artistic choices and processes one doesn’t get from walking through the exhibition. I also had the opportunity to meet Mike Kaplan, who owns all of the posters that are displayed in the exhibit titled “Art of the Dance: Posters from Hollywood’s Golden Age.” Kaplan gave me a complete tour of the posters and how he bought them. Hearing him talk about his collection really brought it to life. He was able to point out details that I had never noticed, how the posters were created, how they were displayed, and even why there were certain actors portrayed and not others. Kaplan has such an expansive collection, the museum was the largest display of his collection to date.
Throughout the summer, it was very eye-opening to be able to see how the museum operates on a day to day basis and how they plan for new exhibits and events in the future. Because the museum is so small, I was able to have conversations with all the staff about their jobs and even helped them with projects. There were so many instances where I would be talking to a staff member and they would ask me to help with something or attend an event. I appreciated how welcoming the entire staff was and how graciously they taught me about their jobs and the museum itself.
I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity with support from the CDC. I was able to pursue something that combined all of my interests while allowing me to develop professionally. One piece of advice for future students is to never be afraid to ask questions. I learned so much from the staff by asking about their jobs, what they do, and how they solve problems or issues that arise. There is so much to learn from those that we work with.