Monday, 22 July 2013

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Lim Zi Kun

Note: Diary of an NUS Museum Intern is a series of blog posts written by our interns about their experiences during the course of their internships. Besides working hard and fast in their cubicles, our interns have travelled to Bandung and Malacca, organised symposiums, waded through tons of historical research and pitched in during exhibition installations. If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!

For the summer of 2013, we have a total of 9 interns at the museum! Each intern will be taking it in turns to contribute an article to the Museum Blog every other week. For daily (or even hourly!) sneak peeks at what they are doing, visit the Museum's Twitter account (@nusmuseum). 


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Lim Zi Kun is a third-year Sociology major at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She is also part of the University Scholars Programme. Zi Kun is a Creative & Design Intern within the Outreach department, working to create museum collaterals and assisting with Outreach activities.


I’ve always been fond of museums, so taking up a museum internship was something I figured would be cool in the summer. I was assigned as an Outreach intern specialising in the Museum’s publications. 



For the weeks I’ve been attached to the Museum, I’ve been constantly challenged with new design responsibilities. On top of designing the fortnightly Malayan black and white flyers, I’ve updated the Museum’s corporate profile, wrapping up the Museum guide, and am helping the Museum with the collaterals for the Museum's booth at the upcoming Istana Art Event.


With all these projects handed to me, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to be fluent in the software designers are expected to use. Previously I was only acquainted with Photoshop, but now I am comfortable with Illustrator and Indesign too. Moreover, because I’m not doing design jobs of my own choosing, I’m forced out of my comfort zone- which can be a good thing when you’re trying out new things. For instance, with the corporate profile, and the museum guide, I had the good fortune to try out corporate design. I can imagine some faces stare in horror- but I guess you have to face it once or twice, sooner or later. It’s conservative, but handling the corporate design jobs forced me to focus on the structure of the page and the flow of information.

Aside from an intern’s main job scope, the Museum offers museum-related activities for interns. These activities add great flavour to the internship because you get to learn about things that aren’t the main focus of your internship. For instance, in the middle of June, the interns were given a private tour of Camping and Tramping by the very pensive curator, Mustafa. Camping and Tramping’s a marvel of an exhibition by itself, and listening to Mustafa speak about how he conceptualised the exhibition only enriched the exhibition experience even more. Though I was only able to catch a fleeting glance at the curatorial process I was moved by the complexity of thought and theoretical considerations that went into the curatorship. A more recent museum activity was the conservation lab tour by conservator Lawrence Chin. Besides showing us the conservatory lab, and sharing with us anecdotes of conservation projects, Lawrence sat the interns down to teach us about the nature of conservation work. From him, we learned about the different aspects of conservation, the technical aspect of the profession, and the complex issues surrounding of the practice. We often think that conservation is a good thing, but during his talk Lawrence challenged this assumption by presenting us with cases where conservation of the artefact/work means interfering with the work.  Because of what I learned from him, I was prompted to rethink my understanding of art-making, in particular the criss-crossing relations between players (artist, art work, institution, audience etc) in the production of ‘Art’.  It was a truly invaluable and insightful experience, and I am grateful that the Museum had scheduled such a learning tour for the interns.


Although the internship with NUS Museum has had its fair share of ups and downs for me, it has been a surprising learning journey; I’ve learnt things I wouldn’t have expected to learn when I accepted the internship 10 weeks ago. If you ever find yourself like me- at the edge of summer with a NUS Museum intern recruitment email in your inbox - I hope you’ll consider dropping them your CV.  Sometimes you just have to take chances, sit back, and enjoy the ride as it goes.  

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