For six weeks, Jeff Katzin ’10 studied with museum curators and art faculty, took behind-the-scenes tours of museums and helped execute an exhibition.
Katzin was one of 15 students who participated in the Summer Institute in Art Museum Studies (SIAMS) at Smith College from June 15 to July 24. He received a Certificate in Art Museum Studies upon completion of the highly-selective program.
“At SIAMS, I met with current professionals, I learned about issues and debates regarding museums and their collections from the program’s directors and visiting speakers, and I visited many museums and saw a lot of great art,” Katzin says.
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and numerous individual donors, SIAMS is a six-week intensive program that introduces college students and recent graduates to various aspects of art museums, complex institutions charged with safeguarding the artistic heritage of humanity.
The program entails rigorous academic study of all aspects of museum operations and culminates in the creation and installation of an exhibition and the preparation and publication of an accompanying catalogue.
“Wesleyan encourages its students to embark on such valuable capstone experiences that incorporate active learning in and out of the classroom,” says Katzin’s dean, Marina Melendez. “I congratulate Jeff on his completion of the Summer Institute in Art Museum Studies at Smith College.”
Katzin, an art history and government major, spent the summer of 2008 in Washington D.C. working as an intern with two political organizations. This summer, he hoped to explore his other area of interest and applied for multiple museum internships. He was elated to be accepted into the SIAMS program.
Katzin was exposed to many facets of museum work, learning about the governance structures of independent museums; permanent, temporary, blockbuster and audience-driven exhibition types; developing themes, design and programs; inventory; copyright and reproduction rights; writing grants and seeking museum funding; museum architecture and trends; and the role of a museum director.
He and his peers also visited 15 museums and organizations including the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn., Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, N.Y., Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art in Providence, R.I.
In addition to museum teachings, Katzin was a member of the curatorial team that developed Between Pasture and Pavement: Diverging Visions at the Turn of the 20th Century, on view at the Smith College Museum of Art through Sept. 6.
The team of four co-created the title, theme and direction of the exhibition, selected the works to be included and edited the catalogue.
“That project really helped me test my abilities in working with art, and I came away with great confidence,” Katzin explains.
Following the SIAMS program, Katzin interned at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio.
“Perhaps the best testament to the program’s quality is how I felt when I returned to the Cleveland Museum. I found that I had a great understanding of everything that was going on around me and of why it was all happening,” he says.
Katzin is still unsure of what career path he’ll take after graduation in May.
“I have interests in both art history and government, as well as in photography. However, if I were to pursue art history it would be through museum work, hopefully as a curator.”