Week 5

On Monday, I worked in the morning to brainstorm some ideas of how to rework the online features. This has been proving somewhat difficult as they have a lot of intricate animation and small images that wouldn’t translate well to a normal page. Nevertheless, I tried to figure out some possibilities . In the afternoon, a bunch of the interns and the rest of the staff headed over to the mall for the Smithsonian staff picnic. We spent the afternoon in the folklife festival, which had been closed to public. After lunch, some of the interns and I headed into the Arts and Industries building to check out the cake decorating contest, which was a ton of fun! Then it was time to head back to F|S, so we attempted to navigate through the basement of the castle to get back. We of course got lost. 🙂 At the end of the day, we had a call with our social media contractor to discuss the storyboarding for the new Snapchat and Instagram Stories channels that we will be contributing to!

Tuesday was a bit less exciting as I spent the day researching museums on social media and coming up with ideas about how to represent F|S on the new channels in the best and most interesting ways. By the end of the day, I had thought of a few good ideas that I think will be really fun additions to the new social media launch!

Wednesday was a crazy day! It was the beginning of the live conservation of two Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculptures that are usually placed in the Freer courtyard. Years of being outside caused them to accumulate a layer of harmful buildup, so a company based in Ohio came to conserve them through a CO2 blasting process that broke through the original layer of wax, and then coated the works in a new protective layer. It was incredibly exciting to watch on a beautiful (but warm) morning. Taylor, the curatorial intern, Jacob (another DMT intern) and I worked to stream a Facebook live video explaining the process and composed posts for our social media channels.

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Photo by Jacob Miller

This took up a large portion of the day, so the rest of the time I was working on social media posts and a few other short tasks. It was a ton of fun to be part of such an interesting project at the museum. Read about it here and here!

On Thursday morning, I worked on some more posts for the second day of the conservation and continued to work on the social media storyboarding for the launch of Snapchat and Instagram Stories. In the afternoon, we did a second Facebook live video highlighting the second part of the process.

 

Week 4

Another belated post! This is what I was up to from July 5-7.

Since Tuesday was 4th of July, I worked from home on Monday continuing to check the already existing pages. Getting back to the office on Wednesday was definitely a bit slow for all of us 🙂 That day I did a lot of small tasks here and there with the content move.

On Thursday morning, I continued with some smaller tasks (again!) It was a bit difficult to work on the content move so much, but I know that it is so important for the future of the site and needs to get done, so I was happy to help Ryan and Liz (since they have so many other things to focus on for the reopening!)

In the afternoon, Ryan and I went to an amazing meeting in capital gallery where a PhD candidate from Germany, Katrin Glinka, spoke to us about her work with collections visualization. She works in a university in Berlin with another professor researching this topic and teaching a class to masters students where they work on a project in the field. For me, this talk was especially fascinating because it unites Art History and Information Science, which are the areas I am studying. It is always so wonderful to hear about people actively combining those topics because it can sometimes seem quite unconventional.

On Friday morning, I worked on a small project for Liz helping locate some vocabulary that needed to be changed before the weekend, since the Sackler closes on July 10. For the rest of the day, Savannah and I actually got to go over to the Freer with Dani, who is working with the company that is developing our new F|S app. Our project was to work on way finding and help brainstorm ideas and wording for the prompts that will read during audio guides to help visitors find their way through their tours and around the museum. It was very cool to see the gallery space and do a hands on project like this.

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We grabbed lunch at the farmer’s market and then after Savannah left, Dani and I continued a bit trying to identify different entrance points, restrooms, etc. so that the app can be created.

Week 3

Sorry for the slightly belated post – things have been crazy around here! I didn’t want to let the past couple of weeks go in terms of posts, so I am just doing them all now! This is what I was up to the week of June 26th.

On Monday, I got in a bit earlier, so headed over to a nearby building to grab a coffee. For the rest of the day, I continued work on migrating content and also continued working on the Alice in Asia essay page. Essays are long and about a specific period or topic and have many photos and links, so it was a big project to move one over. I am pretty happy with how it turned out!

 

On Tuesday, I had my first big intern meeting! When the templates are ready, I will be moving over the conservation section of the old site into the new one. The section is currently quite overcomplicated and confusing, so Ryan and I met with someone from the department to help brainstorm some new ways to organize the content. It felt really cool to be discussing something so important to the future of the site.

For the rest of the day, I finished up work on Alice in Asia and learned how to make forms easily on the new site since many of the pages I had been creating required them. I worked some more on reviewing the online features and narrowing down a list of ones to abandon.

At the end of the day, the interns had the opportunity to hear from Jim Ulak who was one of the curators of Inventing Utamaro. He spoke to us about the artist and the exhibit and was fascinating! It has been so great to learn so much about the exhibition and it has inspired me to learn more about Japanese painting.

Wednesday started off normally with some miscellaneous content moving tasks. I spent some more time looking through the features and reminding myself of each one. Below are a few screenshots of the features.

It wasn’t as hot as it had been, so Savannah and I decided to eat lunch in the Moorgate garden, which is beautiful! After being inside all day, it was nice to get some sunshine.

In the afternoon, I went with Liz to a design critique. These happen fairly frequently and are a way for staff to provide feedback to the design team about the new rebranding. We looked at some of the maps and brochures that will be used for the reopening.

For the rest of the day I worked on moving some of the older gala pages to the new site and updating their design a bit. Many of them hadn’t been changed in 5+ years, so I tried to make them a bit more modern. Here is what one of the pages used to look like and my update.

Thursday and Friday were a bit slower with lots of content moving and fixing up pages. On Thursday morning we had a staff meeting where we heard all about the events that will take place during the reopening weekend. The team developing those ideas has been working very hard and the schedule they have planned as of now sounds fantastic! it will be a great way to reintroduce the public to the museums.

On Friday I worked from home and went through some of the pages that we had been creating for the new site to make sure they were formatted correctly and had all the proper links and subpages. Then signed off for 4th of July weekend!

Week 2

This week was busy and fun for us here in DMT! Things are starting to pick up as we progress with the new site, so we have all been working together to get things done.

On Monday, I spent some time researching WordPress plugins that might be helpful for the new site. It has been really helpful getting more familiar with WP as I know that it is a skill I will need in the future. During my lunch break I headed over to the National Gallery with a friend, which, as you all know, is one of my favorite spots. It is so wonderful to be on the mall and have access to all of these incredible museums!

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On Tuesday, we had a DMT department meeting. The department has been incredibly welcoming to the interns and it was great to be included and hear about the projects that DMT has taken on for the reopening. Later that day, I had the opportunity to hear from one of the curators of Inventing Utamaro, which is a Japanese painting exhibition going on at the Sackler. Since I am not as familiar with Asian art, I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to hear from experts in the field.

Wednesday morning started with a meeting with Taylor, a curatorial intern, about a web feature for her summer project researching two statues from the Freer Courtyard that are being restored. We spoke about a plan for a mini-site and what she had in mind. Later on in the summer when the project is farther underway, Savannah (my fellow web DMT intern) and I will be able to work on that, which will be very exciting.

Yesterday we began transferring content from the old website into the new one! It is a complex and time-consuming job, but helps you learn a lot about the museum and is a great way to see the work you have put in! I worked a lot on the “plan your visit” section as well as the Wallpaper downloads page. That one gave me a bit of trouble, but Liz (my awesome supervisor) and I finally figured it out! This was really interesting as it required me to delve farther into the code. That was a fun moment for me as it was the true intersection of my interests; coding a page of art historical images. It is actually pretty surreal to be actively combining these areas.

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Finally, today was more content transfer! Some of the sections got pretty in-depth with lots of subpages and glitches, but it feels great to have made a dent into the project. We also headed over to the USDA farmer’s market and even though it was hot, it was great to get some fresh air and have lunch as a web team!

Week 1

I am just wrapping up my first week working at F|S! So far, the week has been really informative and I am beginning to learn the ropes. This week I got to familiarize myself with WordPress to prepare myself for later projects, sit in on meetings and see how the staff works.

One of the projects I will be working on is seeing if some of the old web features can be updated to work on the new site. To familiarize myself with those features and see if this project would be feasible, I went through each feature and wrote a summary about what it was, if it had good/bad elements and if it would be worth restructuring. This was a very informative project as it familiarized me with many of the museum’s older exhibitions and gave me a sense of the kinds of things the museum focuses on.

I got to attend several meetings, such as the F|S all staff meeting, a discussion about a screen feature in an upcoming exhibition and a get together of many other Smithsonian staff members who are working with WordPress at their various institutions. It has been so great to see what goes on behind the scenes as well as explore the backend of the museum.

Speaking of the museum, of course a perk of working here is having access to the exhibitions! Yesterday on my way out, I stopped by the Utamaro exhibit at the Sackler, which was absolutely wonderful. I am not quite as familiar with Asian art, so this is a really wonderful way for me to learn about art that I have not yet studied. Hopefully once I get my badge next week I will be able to explore even more!

I am so looking forward to the rest of the summer and progressing with the next projects!

National Gallery East Building

A couple of months ago, the East Wing of the National Gallery re-opened after being closed for renovations. The East Wing is the National Gallery’s hub for modern and contemporary art and has an impressive collection of the modern masters. Contemporary art is one of my bigger interests, so visiting the new wing was an incredible experience.

One of the highlights of the museum are the two towers. One side is an exhibition of a wide range of Alexander Calder’s works and the other is an exhibition of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko paintings. Rothko and Calder are some of my favorite artists and seeing such an enormous collection of their work in one place was really powerful.

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In addition to the to towers, the rest of the modern collection is astonishing. From Kandinsky to Warhol, the galleries are filled with iconic pieces and artists. I was able to see many of my favorite abstract artists’ work in a unified setting. The galleries include color field paintings by Morris Louis, which are incredibly interesting and beautiful. Many of the works that are part of the collection are famous examples of some of the most influential art of the 20th century. It can be so powerful to see these pieces in person after learning about how much profound significance they had on the art world.

The architecture of the building is incredibly open and spacious, which allows space for sculptures and paintings in the central part of the building which can be soon from all different floors and sides. For anyone who is interested in all the many aspects of modern art, this is a fantastic place to spend the day (or more!).

 

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend the Hirshhorn’s exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors. The exhibit was in extremely high demand and it was very difficult to get in, but luckily I scored a membership and was able to see it twice! (I also was writing a paper about it for school, so definitely needed to get in!) It definitely lived up to all the fantastic reviews. Kusama’s work is unlike any other artist and the famous mirrored rooms are a fantastic example of interactive art.

One of the most impressive parts of the exhibit was the room The Souls of a Million Light Years Away. When you enter the room, you are immediately immersed by darkness speckled with tiny sparkling lights. It is a wonderful experience that is difficult to describe, but gives a viewer an idea of the power Kusama wants her work to have.

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The exhibition also features Kusama’s famous love for and fascination with polka dots. The artist is known to have a mental condition in which she claims to see the world covered in patterns, which she applies to her art. The dots are used creatively in different ways throughout the exhibit.

Unfortunately the exhibit recently closed, but if you ever get a chance to see any of Kusama’s beautiful work, it is well worth any wait. Her art is incredibly creative and dynamic and would provoke the interest of any visitor.