My name is Eden; I am a UCSB and UCDC alumna and former peer advisor for the program. I am currently working in the UCDC office, as well as in Visitor Services at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. McKenna (current UCDC Peer Advisor) and I are writing guest blogs to provide further insight into the program, tell some fun stories, and share how UCDC transformed our career paths.
I participated in the program in Spring 2013 and interned for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s (NPG) Office of Collections, Information, and Research within the Catalog of American Portraits. Every day I had the privilege of answering the public’s research requests, updating and creating records of over 200 portraits owned or cataloged by the NPG, writing blogs for the NPG’s website, fact-checking, performing gallery checks before the museum opened, and many other tasks. The highlight of my internship was traveling to Virginia with one of my supervisors to assess a private Elvis Presley collection. I am more than happy to discuss my internship in depth with anyone interested in interning with the National Portrait Gallery while participating in UCDC. It is a wonderful institution to work with, and I highly recommend it to history and art history majors or minors. Here are a few of my favorite works from the NPG database and museum:
Morris K. Jesup, oil on canvas by Daniel Huntington, 1896. This is an example of the many portraits I was able to work with on the NPG database. I believe this portrait of Jesup should win some sort of “Best Facial Hair Award.” Image from the New York State Museum (https://www.nysm.nysed.gov/research_collections/collections/history/nycc/preview/H-2003.41.7_huntington_jesup.html).
http://vimeo.com/62949306. Buffalo Milk Yogurt by Jennifer Levonian, digital video/animation (6:46 minutes), 2010 (image from npg.si.edu). This was the runner-up of the 2013 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and one of my favorite portraits in the museum. I love this portrait not only for its humor, but because it demonstrates that the category “portrait” is much more dynamic than one usually assumes it to be. Here is a short interview with the artist explaining her inspiration, process, and the plot of the portrait: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI6MNiJr9vo.
With regard to the UCDC experience overall, I am often asked for tips or things I wish I had known before living in D.C. My usual answers: 1) Journal! You will be doing many exciting things during your time in D.C., and you want to remember as much of it as possible. I recommend the secure online journal website Penzu.com. It is accessible on any computer with internet connection and you are able to attach photos directly to your journal. 2) Get a metro card. It is cheaper than buying a new ticket every metro ride, it is easily reloadable, you can register it in your name online in case of loss or theft, and I believe you save money when you purchase it in comparison to the paper tickets. 3) Bring an umbrella everywhere you go. This may not apply to all quarters, but I highly recommend it at least for spring participants. I would go into work in the morning on a sunny day with clear skies, and leave the building to get lunch faced with rain three hours later. D.C. definitely does not have California’s climate. 4) On any escalator – walk on the left, stand on the right. You’ll thank me later. 5) Go to the Center forums! You receive a free meal (always a plus) and you have the opportunity to hear and potentially meet highly influential figures. Some of the forums while I participated included the Director of the Food and Water Watch, President Bush’s speech writer, Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Participating in this internship program was the highlight of my undergraduate career, and allowed me to approach my post-graduation plans with more confidence. I highly recommend it to every student I speak with, and to those who are currently in the program – make the most of it!