Art History NYC trip: ‘Learning that can’t happen in the classroom’
After graduation, art history major Lila Reid ’20 will spend the year as an intern at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Massachusetts. The paid opportunity will provide her with the experience necessary to study art conservation at the graduate level.
I had been looking for conservation internships, and I found this particular one through one of my professors. I took the American Art History class with Michael Shapiro ’71 [former longtime director of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art], and through him, I got in contact with people there.
I’ll be working in the furniture department, helping my supervisors with projects that they get in and learning how to do different techniques. The objects I will help conserve at Williamstown come from different places — some of them are from clients with private collections, some are from other institutions, so it depends on the object.
This is a pre-program internship, so it’s before graduate school. I’ll see if I feel like I’m ready to apply to graduate school or continue to get more experience before that.
Major: art history; minor: art
Hometown: New York City
High school: The Beacon School
I came into Hamilton wanting to be a biology and English major, and then I found out about art conservation, probably at the beginning of my sophomore year. I liked doing art, but I wasn’t set on being an artist, so I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I liked science, as well, and there’s a big chemistry component in conservation.
I really enjoy taking art history and art classes. I would say that all of those classes really helped. I also took a lot of Italian classes to go abroad, and some of the cultural aspects from those classes applied to the things I’m interested in art-wise.
I did a lot of art history. I also took some restoration courses.
The summer after my sophomore year, I interned at the Met museum in the conservation department, so that kind of solidified my interest. Last summer, I spent a few weeks on campus working on the Elias Sime sculpture [at Hamilton’s Wellin Museum of Art].
I really did like the American Art class last semester. We did a lot of interviews with museum professionals, and it was really cool getting that outside-of-class experience with people who are actually in these fields rather than textbook readings.
People ask, “If you were to do it again, would you choose Hamilton?” My answer is definitely yes, which is kind of surprising, to be so content, to feel so strongly about that.
Everyone being in the same place to do the same thing: learn. I think that’s really cool.
Getting some real-world experience is very valuable.
It all works out. Because it all works out, don’t be afraid to try different things.
A Pitch and Purchase for the Wellin Museum
Students in the “From Collecting to Curating: American Art, 1900 to 1950” class taught by Associate Professor of Art Robert Knight and Michael Shapiro ’71, former museum director of the High Museum of Art, were tasked with making an acquisition pitch on behalf of the Wellin Museum.