Frances Millar, BMC ’23

Applied Museum Practices – The Fabric Workshop and Museum

Semester: Fall 2022

Faculty Advisor: John Muse

Field Site: The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM)

Field Supervisor: Christina Roberts

Praxis Poster:

Frances Millar_Poster_Final


Further Context:

In my undergraduate studies at Bryn Mawr, majoring in History of Art, I’ve been lucky to explore a variety of art historical coursework and topics. Through these classes, and previous internship experiences in my hometown, I’d garnered a personal and academic interest in museum work
and contemporary textiles, a combination which made the potential of a Praxis Independent Study internship at The Fabric Workshop and Museum quite enticing.

I was thrilled to participate in Praxis IS this semester, and to work in my placement at the FWM. In my previous internship experience as an archival-curatorial intern at a small textile education center, I worked independently researching and photographing a 1960s collection of weaving samples produced by an all-female weaving guild. I enjoyed this work immensely, but found myself looking for more opportunities for professional development. In particular, I wanted to experience working in a larger institution with a larger staff of museum professionals, and with
contemporary artworks. Because Covid disrupted much of my college career I also have come to really value hands-on experiences both inside and outside the classroom, and was looking to work in a setting that would provide experiential learning. Philadelphia has a wealth of arts
institutions, but The Fabric Workshop and Museum in particular was incredibly aligned with my interests, and I’m immensely grateful for my placement there.

My work in the Education Department of the Fabric Workshop and Museum has been quite generative. Through the beginning of the semester, I worked on programming efforts relating to the opening of Dream House, an exhibition by artist-in-residence Rose B Simpson. Dream House is an introspective multi-room installation drawing from the pueblo architecture of Simpson’s ancestral landscape and her personal experiences as an artist, mother, and Indigenous person. Multiple events were planned in collaboration with this show’s opening, and I was responsible for creating an inventory of contacts for targeted outreach, used to promote these events. I compiled over one hundred twenty contacts, and created promotional text with my supervisor Christina Roberts. The primary event that I promoted, a natural dye and tea workshop which was hosted inside the Dream House installation, was well attended and will be having a second iteration in the new year. My work in the later half of the semester has been
similar, but has focused on promoting attendance at an upcoming fundraiser, the closing ceremony of the fall apprenticeship program. For this event I reached out to former apprentices, from contacts in the FWM archive, promoting the event and sponsorship opportunities.

My work promoting the Education department’s programming and events has been interspersed with work in the studio onsite. I’ve helped to hand sew a felt rug in the Dream House installation, sewn aprons, made paper pulp, clay-coated a wall in the first floor Process Lab, exposed and corrected silkscreens for printing, created sample swatch books, dyed silk, and many other studio tasks. This has been such a treat, and has greatly enhanced my knowledge of the FWM as a creative institution.

Throughout the semester I’ve been supplementing my onsite work with academic readings on museum practices and theory. I’ve been primarily focused on Glenn Adamson’s Thinking Through Craft, John Falk’s Identity and The Museum Visitor Experience, and Nina Simon’s blog the Museum 2.0. These readings have provoked new lines of thinking related to the operation of contemporary museums. I’ve maintained a journal documenting my reactions to these texts, as well as the events of my work onsite at the FWM. I’ve discussed these readings and my work with my faculty advisor, professor of visual studies, John Muse, throughout the semester. His insight has been so helpful to my understanding of exhibition and museum practices. I am thrilled to have worked alongside both him and my field site supervisor Christina Roberts