August 23, 2023
Alex Gabriel’s summer internship at New York City’s Jewish Museum opened his eyes to the many opportunities available within a large, curated space.
Gabriel ’24, an art history major with minors in history, museum studies and religious studies, worked as an education intern, conducting research for family guides for upcoming exhibitions, assisting his supervisors in organizing information from past events and helping to set up for family events.
“Because the Jewish Museum offers many different kinds of programs, I was almost always helping set up events within the galleries,” Gabriel said. “On days when there were no events, I spent time researching upcoming exhibitions and brainstorming ideas for family guides that will be used in future shows.”
He also participated in a museum program called the Virtual Summer Institute, which brings all of the museum’s summer interns together to learn about museum practice from curators, collections managers and other museum professionals, and engage in discussions about current debates and issues within the museum field.
“It has been amazing to meet so many young professionals and have meaningful conversations with them about the institutions we all know and care about,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel’s internship has also stirred some feelings he wasn’t expecting: imposter syndrome. Finding himself surrounded by other talented students made him somehow feel as though he didn’t measure up. He said he found himself feeling less intelligent than his peers. He said talking to other interns was one of the most effective methods for dealing with his anxieties was talking to other interns.
“I found quickly that many of the other people participating in the internship felt the same way, which made me feel a lot less alone,” he said. “I also reminded myself that there was a reason that I was chosen and that the Jewish Museum would not have picked me if I was unqualified. These self-affirmations helped me tremendously.”
Gabriel, of Bayville, New Jersey, sought his internship at the Jewish Museum because he found that his “morals and values aligned really well with the mission statement for the museum,” which is to illuminate the complexity and vibrancy of Jewish culture, and to share ideas, provoke dialogue and promote understanding. The internship also supported Gabriel’s art history capstone, which is centered around the concept of institutional critique — a method of art-making that utilizes art as a medium for the critique of oppressive institutional structures.
“In many museums, these difficult conversations being raised are ignored,” Gabriel said. “However, the Jewish Museum’s summer internship not only recognizes these debates, but also provides a platform for current and future museum professionals to think about the responsibility of art institutions in society.”
Learn more about Susquehanna’s Department of Art & Design.