Working at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection was a hugely rewarding, and exciting opportunity for me. I’d never visited Italy before, let alone Venice, and couldn’t wait to see the glittering water and world famous sites I’d always been told about. What I hadn’t anticipated was lugging my heavy suitcase over dozens of stepped bridges, I soon started using the vaporetto!
At the gallery, I was surprised at how much responsibility interns were given. Previous work experience at home had only hinted at what working in the art world would be like, but we interns ran the gallery day to day. We had our fair share of hands-on jobs, such as cleaning the sculptures and manning the ticket office. Wiping cobwebs off of a priceless Henry Moore bronze each morning was a particularly surreal experience.
We were also given loads of opportunities to use and improve our knowledge of art history. I gave public talks on works of art, on Peggy’s life and a tour of the temporary exhibition – all nerve-wracking experiences. It was really rewarding to see how much the visitors enjoyed learning about the artworks, and giggled at parts of Peggy’s colourful story. We all became big fans of Peggy, spending time in the staff room swapping funny anecdotes we’d found during our research.
Something that particularly interested me was people-watching whilst guarding the gallery spaces. It was revealing to see how different kinds of visitors reacted to art works, some only stopping for enough time to take a selfie and others spending hours contemplating just a handful of works.
My favourite part of the experience was meeting other interns from all over the world, and with different art related backgrounds. We spent our free days and evenings together, visiting the churches and museums in Venice, as well as finding bars for cheap Spritz and sharing stories. I learnt a lot from working so closely with so many different people, picking up on their advice for presentations and their art historical knowledge. Some additional skills I acquired along the way include salsa dancing and Chinese cooking. Part of the experience is presenting on a specific subject to our fellow interns, which gave me a great insight into other people’s dissertation topics, or next art project
The experience of working in an internationally renowned gallery, whlie also getting to know a new city and new language, was a steep learning curve. Although it was challenging, I enjoyed seeing myself improve over the course of four weeks. I find it hard to believe I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the company of such fantastic friends, in the presence of modern masterpieces, in such a sublime city. The canals back here in Manchester aren’t quite as pretty as those in La Serenissima, but I’m hugely grateful to have returned with such wonderful memories and a suitcase full of Baci chocolates!