2014 PFIG Recipient Rachel Bender

Career Administrator

Rachel Bender
College of Arts & Sciences
French Major
2015 Graduation Year

Internship: Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in France

Notes on the first week

“I hope this imposing and heavy door will open for me,” I thought as I stood outside 17 Place des Terreaux, with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon towering above me. But luckily I didn’t have to wonder about it much longer because then Salima, the curator with whom I’ll be working during my internship, walked over to meet me. I wasn’t sure exactly how to greet her, but she welcomed me very warmly and showed me inside the beautiful and maze-like fine arts building that I will have the chance to discover this summer. (I learned that building itself was originally an ancient Benedictine abbey dating from the 17th century!)

I first received a tour of a section of the administrative offices hidden away within the museum walls, and was introduced to the different curators, the cultural service, and the communication and press department. This first week I will have the opportunity to learn more about each of the different departments first hand from the employees and to get a general feel for the organization and daily functioning of a large French cultural establishment. So far, I have met with the curator in charge of ancient paintings and sculptures, who gave me and the other interns a debriefing on her upcoming exhibit dedicated to the Lyonnais Renaissance. (She has been preparing it for 3 years already, and it won’t open until 2015!)

I also met with the head of the ‘Service Culturel,’ which is a department that does both cultural event and educational programming for the museum. This was particularly interesting for me because I work as a docent at the Fralin Museum of Art at UVA, and so already I have discovered the disparities between the kinds of services offered by both museums. For example, the Fine Arts Museum of Lyon has tours for the blind, deaf, and also a partnership with a psychiatric hospital. One goal that I have for the summer is to learn more concretely about the methods and logistics for giving tours to specialized groups like these. When I get back to the Fralin, I would love to use this knowledge to set in place a partnership with the UVA hospital to provide in-house tours and art activities for patients.

As this week is geared towards discovering the extremely varied sectors of the museum, I am still a bit unsure of the different tasks that will be delegated to me as the summer progresses. I know that I will be helping in the curatorial department, working on the finishing touches of an exhibition about the French actress and art collector, Jacqueline Delubac. As the exhibition is set to open in November, currently the exhibition book and catalog are still in revision. In the coming weeks, I will assist with the catalog preparation, including archival research and coordination of images from places like the French National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale de France). In addition, there are numerous primary documents and letters from friends and colleagues of Jacqueline Delubac that will be incorporated into the exhibit, and so I will also be in charge of their transcription and organization. That’s all I know for now, but I’m excited to begin learning more about the exhibit and get down to work after my ‘discovery week’ (semaine de découverte) comes to a close!