Curatorial Intern in the Dumbarton Oaks Museum

Charlotte Guinois is a Ph.D. candidate in Pre-Columbian archaeology at Paris IV-Sorbonne University. Charlotte spent March and April as a curatorial intern in the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. Her internship was sponsored by the French Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) and Dumbarton Oaks.

Museum Curatorial Intern

Charlotte Guinois, Dumbarton Oaks Museum Curatorial Intern, Spring Term, 2013

I will soon be a curator in France and I had to complete a museum internship abroad to graduate from my program of study. I was really lucky to be a curatorial intern this year at Dumbarton Oaks, since I always wanted to have a curatorial experience in this museum which houses one of the most impressive collections of Pre-Columbian art. Furthermore, 2013 is a special year since the Dumbarton Oaks Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary with an important exhibit in the Philip Johnson Pavilion displaying masterpieces of the collection together with various objects on loan from prestigious institutions.

In the Museum, I worked on various interesting projects. My first project was to create online modules to accompany the 50th anniversary loan exhibit. I focused on several Pre-Columbian display cases, including the Epi-Olmec jade Tuxtla Statuette, the impressive Mixtec ceremonial atlatls, and the magnificent Wari mosaic mirror of Ancient Peru. I did bibliographical research, wrote texts, selected images, requested new photography, and obtained the appropriate copyright permissions from various institutions and scholars. The result will be published on the museum’s website.

My second project included promoting the Pre-Columbian program of events for 2013. I contacted various Washington D.C. institutions with potential interest, including the Anthropology or Latin American Studies departments of the city’s main universities, several Latin American cultural institutions, and other museums with Pre-Columbian art in their collection.

Furthermore, I helped to reinstall several Inca pieces in the galleries, and I worked in the storage rooms, checking the inventory (description and location) of Pre-Columbian objects.

In addition, as a Pre-Columbianist and Ph. D. candidate in Pre-Columbian archaeology, I had the opportunity to work for the Pre-Columbian Studies department on the Moche Archive Project. Christopher Donnan’s archives of his work on the Moche civilization of Ancient Peru, housed in the Image Collection and Fieldwork Archives, are composed of a variety of documents including 20,000 prints of the roll-out drawings of the Moche fineline paintings on ceramics. I created a Moche iconographic concordance guide, comparing the different terminologies used by scholars to describe the complex imagery displayed on Moche ceramics. This will serve as a tool for scholars working with the Moche archive.

Therefore, I really had an incredible experience here during these two months. I had the opportunity to work on numerous projects, I learned a lot, and especially appreciated working and sharing ideas with different people, in the museum, with scholars and fellows, as well as in the archive and the library, enjoying also the beauty of this place.

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