A dozen high school students had their run of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art campus this summer. The Inspiring backdrop of the museum and access to great works of art, as a learning tool, allows the museum to reach beyond the walls of Crystal Bridges to under-served communities.
“I decided well, I’m not doing anything this summer,” Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Summer Intern Kapresha Williams admitted. “So let me come out.”
Williams was one of 12 interns from Philips County in the Arkansas Delta who took advantage of the opportunity of hands-on work experience offered by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
“I’ve learned so much in five weeks, it is amazing; just the professionalism, learning how to work in the workplace, learning how to live with other people that I’m not comfortable living with, just learning different personalities [and] learning about myself,” Williams shared.
Williams and the 11 other high school students in the program lived at a nearby farmhouse for five weeks to broaden their understanding of art and history as well as check out new options for career development.
“They are working closely with curatorial, with exhibitions, culinary, prep, all the different departments of the museum [by] job shadowing,” Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Museum Educator Matthew Boyd explained. “But outside of that they’re getting exposed to the Northwest Arkansas area.”
A quilt, which was commissioned by Oprah for Maya Angelou, hangs on the walls of the museum. It is a piece Williams is very familiar with since it was part of her studies during the internship. She said it speaks to her because it reaffirms her desire to be a strong African American woman.
“Things won’t be handed down to me,” Williams acknowledged. “So I have to work extremely hard to get what I need and to grow and be able to accomplish things that I’ve always dreamed of.
“So that’s my motivation, that’s what I continue to do.”
Williams said that drive comes from wanting to make her parents proud and strive for a life better than theirs and that no one, but her, will determine what she achieves in life. This program is designed to cultivate the next generation of museum-goers and professionals, and Williams and her peers are prime examples of what they have in mind.
“We hope they go back with a greater appreciation, a renewed appreciation for art, for museum cultures, for museum professions and a renewed appreciation for education,” Boyd shared.
The students’ experiences culminated with a Capstone project in which they applied their knowledge of the museum into a theoretical exhibition they organized and presented. You can learn more about the program as well as see their presentations by clicking here.