Andrea Sofia R. Matos is a junior majoring in Art History with a minor in Photography at Florida International University. Passionate for the art and culture of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the African Diaspora, she aspires to be a curator. As part of Art Society Conflict, Andrea desires to expand her knowledge in art and the history of Florida’s most vibrant city.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum is a museum whose focus is to showcase Miami’s diverse population while presenting to the public compelling works of art that break barriers across cultures, disciplines, and genres. Located on Florida International University’s Modesto A. Maidique campus, what began in a small space in the Primera Casa building in 1978 is currently a 46,000 square foot building. The museum houses over 6,000 works of art from pre-columbian objects to contemporary photographs.
As an art history major it is very important for me to have experiences in as much cultural and artistic institutions I am able to explore. A museum is a very specific machine that operates in particular ways, thus the knowledge of how a museum works as an institution must be gained by actively participating within it. One of my very specific goals after completing a higher education is working as a curator in a museum, therefore knowing how exhibitions are made and collections are gained is essential to my professional development.
Another side of why I chose the Frost Art Museum is because it provided the option to do remote volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the university museum, I was intrigued as to how they worked with the students and how many opportunities they provided.
During the surge of the coronavirus pandemic I became unemployed. The months in isolation and without a job started getting to me so I figured I needed to go back to working creatively as soon as possible. I began searching for jobs and internships within the arts I saw an open call for a Gallery Guide Program. I applied and in less than couple of hours, I had received an email to schedule an interview which I had a few days later. Emily Afre, the Education Specialist, is the supervisor of the program and my closest connection within the museum.
WHERE & WHAT
During the month of October, I was tasked with shadowing the Chief Curator of the museum Amy Galpin as she gave tours to different groups of students and professionals of the two current exhibitions titled “House to House: Women, Politics, and Place” and “Otros Lados.” I did a lot of independent studying of the exhibitions and artists of both exhibitions.
October 12 – I shadowed Amy Galpin as she gave a tour to an FIU class. I provide with supporting links and helped answer questions in the chat from the students regarding museum hours and questions about the artists.
October 14 – I attended a virtual Zine Workshop and helped answer questions to the participants. The workshop was inspired by the exhibition “Otros Lados” the museum staff members engaged with first-gen students in a conversation about identity, immigration, and their personal experiences and college journeys as they made their own zine. I even participated and made my own zine.
October 16 – I shadowed Amy Galpin as she gave a tour to another FIU class of the current exhibitions of “Otros Lados” and “House to House: Women, Politics, and Place”. I provided virtual assistance to Amy and provided resourceful links to the students.
October 20 – Attended a Mock Tour with education specialist Emily Afre about both exhibitions. Took notes and paid close attention of how to give a proper tour.
During the month of November I payed more close attention to actually giving a tour and figuring out the virtual controls and how to navigate properly through it. I studied independently some more and attended various virtual events.
November 5 – The online event of Diversifying the Narrative was held and even though I didn’t provide any assistance I made sure to tune in and support the poets and artists present.
November 6 – Gave a solo mock tour to Emily Afre to make sure I knew the material and had all the right information about the artworks. Worked together alongside Emily to fill in any holes left in my tour giving.
November 10 – Met up with the other guides and Emily Afre to begin our exhibition study guide of the new upcoming exhibition “Tesoro: Pepe Mar’s Love Letter to the Frost”. We discussed the logistics of how the study guide was going to be created and the other pertinent information that needs to be dissected and then presented in tours and walkthroughs.
December 4 – Met up with Emily Afre to discuss the Sculpture Park. When giving a virtual tour things change a bit, so rehearsing tours virtually is very important. We discussed the sculptures around the museum, their meaning and how we would present them to elementary and middle school children.
My experience as a Gallery Guide at the Frost Art Museum during a pandemic was something special, to say the least. I had never been volunteering and have all the work be completely online; it definitely took getting used to the fact that we could only see and work through zoom and phone calls. Having worked in a museum setting before, I did not like working through online platforms; much of the experience is having to be at the museum and regularly see art pieces. However, the online experience did provide me with sets of skills that I know I will need to master if I want to continue in this career pathway, like answering emails promptly and having clear studies of artworks within exhibitions.
Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, “Learn” Page, frost.fiu.edu, Dec. 1, 2020. https://frost.fiu.edu/learn/index.html
Wikipedia, “Frost Art Museum,” wikipedia.org, Dec. 1, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frost_Art_Museum#:~:text=Founded%20in%201977%20as%20The,draw%20on%20or%20enhance%20the