Erin Daugherty: A Summer Internship at the Polk Museum of Art

Oct 15, 2018

by Erin Daugherty '20
Student Writer

This past summer, I received an amazing yet unexpected opportunity that opened up a whole new world of knowledge and possibility at the Polk Museum of Art.

An internship opportunity was surely something I had my eye out for after my sophomore year at Florida Southern but wasn’t actively pursuing. One day towards the end of the spring semester, my mom shared with me a link on Facebook about a Florida Southern student internship at the museum.

“My experience at the Polk Museum of Art so far has been nothing but mind-opening and educating.”
Erin Daugherty '20

I am not an art major, but the thought of spending my summer in a museum triggered my curiosity and artistic side. I submitted an application, hoping that my passion for art and learning would shine through and I would be granted this opportunity.

Over the summer, I spent six weeks at the Polk Museum of Art soaking up as much as I could from the departments. The program included two weeks in each department: curatorial, education, marketing and weekly shifts in visitor services. After completing the summer program, I decided to continue my education with an internship in marketing and member services.

The community environment and teamwork at the Polk Museum was something that I feel people dream to be a part of when they grow up. While I continued my internship in marketing, I enjoyed every minute at each of the departments, and this experience opened my eyes to a whole new area to explore.

At the museum, I learned about the caring and preservation of pieces of art. These one-of-a-kind works are pieces of our history that must be delicately and attentively cared for. Getting to see how pieces of art are stored and shared between museums to help create exhibitions was also fun to see. I think it is amazing how museums lends pieces of art to one another to complete exhibitions and share the story of that piece with even more people.

The biggest perk of being in marketing is how involved you get to be in the other departments. It is important to share with the public everything going on within an organization to build personal relationships with them, so posting about the shipments of artworks, future exhibits and even how artwork is stored and cared for in museums is something to delve into for publishing content.

Erin Daugherty '20 painting.
FSC Departments always appreciate student involvement and assistance.

Another wonderful opportunity the Polk Museum provided me with this summer was working with children. I have taught swim lessons for five years already, but through the museum’s summer camp program I was able to help teach elementary and middle school students how to create clay sculptures and other fun art projects. I had never had opportunity to teach children art before, and it was just as fun as I thought it would be!

It is also the marketing department’s responsibility to share exciting news and events going on at the museum with schools and summer camps. For example, the museum does weekly tours for 4th graders and now a special evening curator tour on the first Thursday of every month. The diversity of people that visit the museum is something to be enjoyed and shared with everyone, because there is a place for everyone to learn and be a part of something in a museum.

My responsibilities as a marketing intern this fall include managing the Melvin and Burks Galleries Facebook page, assisting with the museum’s Instagram profile and developing strategy for building audience and engagement on social platforms. As a communications major and someone involved in network marketing, these are things right up my alley but in a different area than I would have thought.

My experience at the Polk Museum of Art so far has been nothing but mind-opening and educating. Every day I’m pushing the creative limits of my mind to come up with new, engaging content to share and meeting artists and community members I never would have even heard about if it wasn’t for the museum. Through all of this, I’m doing what I love and dream of doing, which makes it that much better.

I have been presented with challenges, new ideas and experiences, and began building many new connections in my life through the opportunities the museum has brought me. I am so thankful for the experience I have had so far, and I cannot wait to see how I’ll continue to grow the rest of this semester at the museum.

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