The Milwaukee Art Museum Teen Satellite Internship is a semester-long program that fosters both hard and soft skills in Milwaukee-area high school students through multi-disciplinary activities and projects.
This past fall semester, 16 teen interns explored social engagement and collaboration through writing, drawing, photography, and music. This approach helps the teens communicate with each other “in different languages, and encourages the development of empathy and the ability to speak thoughtfully,” according to MAM Teen Programs Coordinator Helene Fischman.
Activities included a behind-the-scenes hard hat tour and drawing activity while the museum was under construction; leading elementary school students on exhibition tours; creating collaborative, improvised drawings; and interpreting collections in the museum’s new Collaboratory gallery.
Teen interns drawing in the Milwaukee Art Museum's Windhover Hall. Photo by Emry Brisky
The Teen Satellite Internship also offers a career skills component. To become interns teens “have to apply, go through an interview process, they have to get a bank account, and they become staff at the museum. It’s all job readiness,” says Brigid Globensky, MAM Senior Director of Education and Programs. “We talk about college, and write and edit resumes,” Helene says. At program completion, the teens receive a certificate of excellence for completing the internship as well as professional copies of their resume.
The final project incorporated many of these elements into a culminating collaborative performance piece. Interns took photographs with a partner, who then wrote a story about their partner’s photos. While the students brainstormed and wrote, musicians improvised in response to the photos, so the music also provided inspiration for their stories. For the final performance students read their stories while the correlating photographs flashed behind them and musicians improvised to the writing in real time. “The teens come out of the program having felt a total immersion in multiple arts and performance, which helps to validate their identity,” according to Helene. (View the full performance below!)
Most of the interns come from the Milwaukee Public Schools, and some have never been to the MAM before. The internship helps to “reframe the museum as a place of making and activating, and ownership, so it becomes not just a place to visit but your studio, a nexus of your creativity,” says Helene. The MAM has become “like a second little home to me,” said intern Michaela Miller. According to Brigid Globensky, so many teens want to continue after their semester-long internship that they are developing a teen advisory council that will examine how teens can have an ongoing role in the museum.
For more information on the Milwaukee Art Museum’s teen programs visit mam.org/teens.
Top image: The Fall 2015 Milwaukee Art Museum Teen Interns