A Day in the Life of the Museum of Contemporary Art:Chicago Intern- Melissa Roels

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Working in the marketing department of the Museum of Contemporary Art: Chicago is one of the most well rounded experiences I could have gained from a museum internship. The technical title of the marketing department is Communications and Community Engagement, which allows me to partake in an array of tasks at the MCA. What I love the most about interning there is that I am able to interact with almost every department (it also helps that my desk is next to the coffee pot!).

The MCA Chicago is one of the largest designated spaces for contemporary art. Contemporary art is a loose categorization of art generally defined as works from 1945 onwards. As a museum we try to focus on community interaction and engagement, making fine art a democratic experience for all.  So, by no means is this a stuffy museum! We try to remain current in technology trends for educational purposes, such as podcasts which explain more about our exhibitions, and also fun trends like the MCA’s edition of the Harlem Shake dance craze, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uShe_kKLLIk.

Day to day activities vary depending on the exhibition schedule as well as events taking place at the museum. The most consistent activities I do everyday is record and file ads which we have placed in various periodicals, and add guest passes into excel spread sheets from the weekend. I also fulfill donation requests from organizations and organize the materials to be mailed to them. On Tuesdays, I have the pleasure of working outside during the afternoon at the farmer’s market. This is a great way to answer questions people have about up coming exhibitions, we also let them know that it is not only the day we are open late with events scheduled for people to enjoy but it is also free for all Illinois residents. On more interesting days, we may something like a performance piece going on that I get to document via social media, or just get to go see with my either of my two supervisors. (Check out the picture of Miller and Shellabarger crocheting their on going piece Untitled, Pink Tube, 2003–present).

As I said before my position allows me to interact with all parts of the museum. I benefit from seeing a “behind the scenes” of how a large institution runs. Sitting in on the staff meetings, I get to experience how they solve problems between departments. It also is great to see how much effort and passion is put in by the people who work there. Each employee has their unique reasons for working at the MCA and it comes through their work and engagement every time I am interning there. Each of uphold the key section of the mission statement, “The MCA aspires to engage a broad and diverse audience, create a sense of community and be a place for contemplation, stimulation, and discussion about contemporary art and culture.” Among all the business experience I am taking in, I am also learning about the kind of environment I would aspire to work in as a career.

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