I really love the National Gallery. It’s my favorite museum by design and acquisition and that it is so accessible. I used to work there and that probably has something to do with my continued affection for the NGA.
When I first worked at the NGA, I was an intern in the Public Relations Office — the administrative side — before I worked later on the exhibition side. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn the behind the scenes tactics of what it takes to operate a famous and large-scale public art museum. Fortunately, I was able to do this with a Tonya Grant from my university. Normally this was used for mostly government and public affairs internships but I was the first one (at the time) to be awarded this with regard to the art /museum realm. When I was there, we were periodically asked to do research at CASVA, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, situated in the East tower wing, taking up several floors among administrative offices. This was fun and intimidating to do. So many scholars were surrounding us. However, I was happy to see that this “hidden” gem and its several scholars were recently profiled in the Washington Post. As Blake Gopnick states in his article, “They work in the shadows to find new insights into art — so that the rest of us don’t have to.” Actually, I would love to, but it would be a luxury at this point with so little time….I’m kind of envious. What a dream job it would be to study art. Art history is still my first academic love; although, I equally enjoy creating art as well, but to be able to delve into historical periods, artistic movements and particular artists of interest and within your profession…. Artists, as well as art historians are part of CASVA.
Many lectures take place at the NGA which showcase their work. I used to attend regularly. Having kids, kinda changed that but now that my husband and I are empty nesters and our boys are nearly both in college, they might appreciate attending. Something to put on the summer calendar; although, the CASVA lectures by this point will have finished. Others remain and are ongoing, regarding current and permanent exhibitions. I would have liked to have attended, The Body of Perfection, the Perfection of the Body and Representation and Imitation.
Coincidentally, I had a discussion recently at a dinner party about my behind the scenes experience at the NGA and I recommended the childrens book, The Nine-Ton Cat, by Peggy Thomson as a pretty accurate and basic perspective of all the things we don’t notice when just going there to view the art.