Naomi Lawrence, HC ‘24

Fieldwork at the Fabric Workshop and Museum

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: Fabric Workshop and Museum

Field Supervisor: Christina Roberts

Praxis Poster: 

Naomi_Lawrence_Poster_Final_S24

 

Further Context:

Mary-Grace Culbertson, BMC ‘25

Archives, Catalogs, and Collections at the Fabric Workshop and Museum

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: Fabric Workshop and Museum

Field Supervisor: Justin Hall

Praxis Poster: 

Mary-Grace Culbertson_Poster_Final S24

 

Further Context:

This semester I did an internship at the Fabric Workshop and Museum. Since this was my second semester at the FWM, I was already fairly acquainted with the collection and the tasks I’d be expected to do. Most of what I worked on this semester was related to organizing and streamlining information so that it could be easily accessed.

My first task was to compile a document that made readily available information regarding objects owned by the museum. To do this, I had to gather all information related to the object, like material, dimensions, and photo. I also had to delve into some files to determine what kind of contract the museum had with the artists and what it outlines in regard to object ownership. This was an interesting glimpse into the logistics of museums and collection building. The evolution of the contracts from the beginning of the museum to the present day was fascinating as the older contracts give most rights to the museum while the newer ones are more specific and individualized. This task took me quite some time and amounted to something close to 50 pages. I was relieved to be done with this task and rewarded by the completion of the file!

My next tasks were all in a similar vein of collections inventory. I did some work in locating objects and recording that in Excel sheets. I then updated this information on their collection database CollectionSpace. My final project of the semester involved doing some more work on CollectionSpace making exhibition records. This process included making a file for each exhibition that has happened at the FWM and attaching necessary files to it (this included the gallery checklist, wall text, and press release). I was able to make records for every year through 2012.

Overall, I really enjoyed my internship at the Fabric Workshop and Museum. I learned so much about museum processes and developed important organizational skills that will benefit the museum in future years. I feel so lucky for this experience and want to express my deepest gratitude for the FWM and for Bryn Mawr’s praxis program for allowing me to take part in this opportunity.

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