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An Internship Farewell

25 Aug

Goodbyes are never easy, and this week at the Museum of Inuit Art (MIA) is no exception. The time has come for me to finish another summer of work here at the Museum of Inuit Art, and I must say, it’s just as difficult the second time.

As you can imagine, I’ve grown quite attached to the MIA. I never expected that I would get the chance to work here for two summers in a row, but I’m so grateful I did! Back in May 2014 when I started my first Young Canada Works position as Visitor Services Officer, I had a lot to learn about museum work. My knowledge has drastically increased since then, as I’ve had the opportunity to fill various roles during my time here, such as conducting a visitor evaluation, processing admissions at the front desk, giving tours and promoting MIA at local arts and culture festivals.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped out with all the out reach sessions we attended. It was so great to meet people who were interested in learning and sharing knowledge about art and history. It’s so inspiring to see community members giving back by lending their time and experience.

I would also like to thank all the visitors that came out to the programming – both on and offsite of the museum. It was great to put into practice what I had been developing behind the scenes. Through interactions and testing I was able to adapt some new activities and make them even better for the next group of curious museum seekers.

And last but not least I would like to thank MIA staff for welcoming me back, and for making this summer such a wonderful experience. I’ve learned even more about museum work and programming, and after venturing all over Toronto with our outreach team and special events volunteers, I’ve been able to see the museum from a different perspective. Bringing objects from MIA’s Educational Collection to Toronto Public Library branches and local events opened my eyes to the many outreach possibilities in the city, and I’m grateful to have been a part of that.

Even though I’m leaving at the end of another rewarding summer, I look forward to visiting the museum again soon – I’m especially excited for the Abraham Anghik Ruben exhibition this fall! I am so fortunate that I’ve been able to gain experience in my chosen field, and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to work. Thanks again, MIA!

gatsby

Posted by Serena Y., MIA’s Community Engagement Officer

Get Up Close and Personal: Please DO Touch!

21 Aug

Over the past few weeks, Serena -the museum’s Summer YCW work intern, has been developing more interactive programming inside the museum. After brainstorming, researching, testing and training volunteers she was able to launch Get Up Close and Personal to share art works directly with museum visitors. Read about her experience creating the new program below.


Keeping museum pieces secure and safe from harm is a priority at any museum or art gallery. No museum is complete without a large sign or two saying “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH”. However, if you’ve been to MIA in the last couple of months on a Thursday afternoon, you may have had the chance to participate in our new Get Up Close and Personal sessions.

These interactive sessions offer visitors the unique opportunity to touch objects from the MIA Educational Collection. Pieces in our Educational Collection are meant to be handled, so visitors can feel free to pick them up and learn more about the texture and material of each object.

I’ve been running these weekly Get Up Close and Personal sessions since July, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive so far. Visitors enjoy engaging in this tactile experience and trying to guess what material each piece is made of based on its texture.

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Serena is all set to go for ‘Get Up Close and Personal’. You can join a session every Thursday from 1-2 PM in the museum.

It’s quite interesting to see how visual appreciation of the works in the museum translates to visitors’ tactile experiences – I often ask visitors to feel the porous texture of the antler doll in the collection and to guess what material it is made of. The most common answers are “bone” and “wood”, so most visitors are surprised to learn that the doll is made of antler, which caribou shed every year.

It has been especially rewarding to see how visitors make connections between what they have already seen in the museum and what they are holding in their hands. Once visitors find out that the carved ivory piece is a walrus tusk, many of them mention the narwhal tusk and the small ivory sculptures in the historical case at the museum.

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Pieces from the museum’s Educational Collection that reflect the different types of materials and textures you can find in art produced by Inuit.

I’ve even encountered visitors who are familiar with Inuit art and have recognized different types of stone, pointing to Pudliak Shaa’s “Dancing Goose” and saying, “is that serpentine?”

These interactions with visitors are part of what makes working at MIA so fulfilling. I love contributing to visitor learning and watching visitors discover more about Inuit art. If you’d like to see (and touch) these objects for yourself, be sure to drop by the museum on Thursdays from 1-2 PM!

Posted by Serena Y., MIA’s Community Engagement Officer

Something Different, Something New: The Making of ‘Unikkaaqtuat’

23 Jul

It’s hard to believe I only arrived at the museum two months ago, and that my internship is almost over. Everyone here has made me feel so welcome; it’s made my internship just fly by. So much has happened in that short period of time that it’s hard to fit everything into just a few paragraphs. To cover some of the main points, while I’ve been here I’ve gotten to apply everything I learnt in school to actual situations. I’ve had the opportunity to catalogue and condition report objects, to transport object, and to pack and store objects – all things I’ve learnt theoretically but seldom in practice. I have gotten to grow, to learn, and to be confident in my opinions and ideas.

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Myself and the MIA Collections Manager preparing some works on paper to be returned.

Being able to state my opinions and ideas with confidence is the most important part of this internship for me, and it is what helped make our newest exhibition Unikkaaqtuat: Inuit Creation Stories a reality. When I first started I was asked, somewhat in passing, to think about what a new exhibition could be. There were a few options, but nothing stood out to me except finding a way to explore Inuit myths and legends. I did not know much, but I was eager to learn more.  That’s how I began the research for this exhibition – by reading a wide variety of myths and legends, and I started with Inhabit Media’s “Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends.” As soon as the idea solidified I emailed Inhabit Media, and got great feedback from their organization. I got to choose some of my favourite stories, and with MIA’s Collections Manager I got to look through the museum collection to find objects to accompany those stories. Together Lauren and I narrowed down our list, and chose objects to best reflect the stories. From that point on it became a matter of organization. Which stories would go beside each other? Which objects look best when paired together? What can we do to create the best impact?

We planned this exhibition to be as family-friendly as possible, to add colour, lower plinths, and create interactive components to help entice parents to bring their children to the museum. Objects and text panels were placed lower on the wall to help children interact with the objects. We’ve even added a LEGENDary Theatre so visitors can use puppets to act out the stories they’ve read in the exhibit or share their own stories.

There are five different stories represented in the case, each accompanied by art from the MIA permanent collection.

There are five different stories represented in the case, each accompanied by art from the MIA permanent collection.

As the exhibition planning and execution continued to progressed, it became obvious to me that this would become an exhibition with a selection of some of my favourite stories, and objects. From light and humorous to dark and frightening, this exhibition explores different stories of how things came into existence.

Following the opening more programming, tours, and art activities will connect with the show and I hope you have a chance to see it this summer.

– Posted by Taylor M., MIA’s Collections Intern

Introducing Our New Community Engagement Intern!

14 May

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Hello, my name is Tom and I am the new Community Engagement Intern here at the Museum of Inuit Art! I’ve been volunteering as a docent with MIA since August 2014. As a docent, I have had many wonderful opportunities to gain community engagement experience and I’m hoping to expand on that during my internship. Aside from my public docent tours that lead visitors through popular themes in Inuit art, stylistic differences across the Canadian Arctic, and the various types of material used to create the art, I’ve also assisted with several special events – you may have seen me during March Break and Winterfest! I’ve also had the opportunity to deliver MAP Family Saturday programing where I’ve visited Toronto Public Library branches and brought out museum artifacts from the museum’s Educational Collection for Hands-On sessions, played traditional Inuit games and led art activities so visitors could bring their own piece of art back home. I’ve also been attending a Museum Management and Curatorship program at Fleming College over the course of the past year. This program helped me develop a solid foundation of knowledge upon which to build my museum experience. While the program involved all sorts of work including care of collections and exhibition development, I’ve always had a strong interest in working with the public. When I needed to seek out a placement for an Internship for the MMC program, the MIA stood out to me both due to my cherished experience with the museum as well as the fact that I knew it had a lot of community programing coming up over the spring and summer. I was very happy that the Museum was willing to host my internship, and am excited to have the opportunity to develop my skills during my time here. I am really excited to be a part of the MIA team, thanks for having me! – Posted by Tom E., MIA’s Outreach Intern

Introducing our new Collections Intern!

8 May
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Hi! My name is Taylor Maunder and I am excited to be the new Collection Management Intern.

 

I am currently a student at Georgian College’s Museum and Gallery Studies post-graduate program. I came into this program after starting my university career at the University of Ottawa as a Science student. It wasn’t until my second year there that I found, and fell in-love with, the university’s Classical Studies program. After switching programs midway through my second year, I found a little museum associated with the school, the Museum of Classical Antiquities. As a third year student I began volunteering there and soon began to love museum work, working up with objects so often left behind glass. So I decided to pursue a career in museum work.

 

And so I searched for an internship position which would allow me to working with a collection of objects that I found interesting and knew little about. This, of course, led me to the Museum of Inuit Art. I will be the Collections Management Intern for the next four months where I will be working beside Lauren Williams and the other staff of MIA to gain as much knowledge as I can! I hope to be gaining knowledge on current museum practices, applying some of my schooling, and of course learning about Inuit Art, the culture and the artists.

 

– Posted by Taylor M., MIA’s Collections Intern

A Final Farewell from Our Collections Management Intern

30 Apr

Four months has gone by incredibly fast for me here at the Museum of Inuit Art! It’s been exceptionally rewarding and informative and I believe that I have learned a considerable amount compared to when I first started in January as the Collections Management Intern. I’ve learned how to catalog and condition report, accession objects and how to move them safely around the museum. I have also how difficult it can be to put up exhibition text panels (it’s surprisingly time-consuming). I’m incredibly grateful to my supervisor, Lauren, for sharing with me her collections wisdom and prowess and providing me with a place where I could learn what’s required for a professional career in museum collections management. Who knew that box making could be a quantifiable skill? I certainly did not, but it’s one that I now have (and like to brag about).

Since the museum has pieces made from a variety of types of materials, I have been able to learn a lot about proper care and storage procedures for substances such as stone, ivory, bone and antler, materials I didn’t think I would ever work closely with. The collection here at the museum is both amazing and diverse and I’m so glad that I have been able to learn and work with the objects, mostly the carvings of arctic wildlife. I now have a particular fondness for all things narwhal and walrus, like this handsome guy by Joanassie Oomayoualook who’s just so chubby and adorable.

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[Walrus] by Joanassie Oomayoualook (1934- ), Inukjuk, stone, ivory, MIA Collection, 2013.4.24.

– Posted by Beth P., MIA’s Collections Managment Intern

Introducing Our New Programming and Outreach Assistant!

22 Feb
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MIA’s newest staff member Caitlin H. with her favourite piece at the museum “Fire Spirits Rising” (2008) by David Ruben Piqtoukun (1951 – ) Paulatuk, stone, charcoal

 

My name is Caitlin Hudson, and I am the new Programming and Outreach Assistant at the MIA! I’m a graduate of the Applied Museum Studies program at Algonquin College, and over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to work in museums, art galleries, and archives all across Ontario. I have worked in many different areas of museums (including collections, exhibitions, and programming), and I’m always looking for an opportunity to learn something new. I have little experience working with Inuit Art, so working at the MIA is the perfect opportunity for me to diversify my knowledge of art and art history.

I’m going to be working on a lot of different projects here, including developing new and exciting programming for visitors of all ages, and working on different outreach initiatives. I’m so excited to join the MIA team, and I look forward to meeting you at an upcoming programming event! Be sure to check out the museum’s events page to see what I’ll have in store you for this month for March Break and other special dates and programming.

– Posted by Caitlin H., MIA’s Programming and Outreach Assistant

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