UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

A Blazing First Week at the Barrick

By J. Walesa

A Blazing First Week at the Barrick

Jumping into an internship at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ campus was like I fell into the ocean in the best way possible. Dropped into a wholly new environment and scrambling to keep up, the staff of the Barrick were a life preserver among the waves of new stimuli. From the grand tour of the museum with the opportunity to poke into every corner, to attempting to center my focus on any of several potential projects, the staff were wildly supportive of any direction I started turning. Even when that meant not going any direction at all and just staring at one piece in the gallery for twenty minutes straight.

I can’t say for sure what I was expecting when I went in for my first day at the Barrick, but I can say it was an experience I would not trade for anything. As a History and Art double major, museum curating had always been in the back of my mind as a possible career, but for some reason my brain always expected a history museum to be my natural choice for an internship. To the Barrick’s credit, it used to be a natural history museum, so I was only a few decades too late for such an experience. Just a touch overshot. Yet, it is the Barrick’s position as an art museum (the only one in Las Vegas, to be specific) that has made my experience so fulfilling so far. I was ready to permanently move into the museum after the first hour, but unfortunately there was nowhere to set up my bed and the nearest showers were in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center ten minutes away.

First introductions went smooth, all the names were exchanged and the energy in the air made it clear everyone was passionate about the work being done here. It was that vigor that made it so easy for me to slip in among the waves of projects and enmesh myself in the controlled chaos. Alisha’s neverending enthusiasm, Paige’s strong sense of direction, Deanne’s careful candor, and Dan’s ready ear to help ground my running thoughts all made me realize the extent of the cooperation that makes the Barrick so strong as a community staple. With free admission year round and an open perspective, the Barrick has the unique opportunity to champion work from artists belonging to minority identities that typically have their voices trampled over.  

My first hour of official work was to simply familiarize myself with the work on display. Lemme tell you, the bliss of being the only one to wander an entire gallery uninterrupted surpasses any consumable substance’s effects (currently not accepting any challenge to that statement; stay in school, don’t do drugs). It was in that incredible set of moments that I realized two things: one, that elation of being surrounded by art was mega nerdy, and, two, I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. That very happiness cemented my commitment to contribute to the Barrick’s growth in the difficult setting of a worldwide pandemic.

After that, it was pure academic adrenaline that sent my mind reeling with the possibilities for projects. Artist interviews, research articles on specific pieces, community outreach... anything my brain could churn out, the Barrick could help me adapt into a solid idea to work towards. This written piece that you, yes you, are reading was another idea to help give a new perspective on the Barrick. As a college student with plenty of time ahead of me, the world is my bucket of oysters, but the Barrick is a shiny pearl among the load. Ready and helpful to shape my work experience. The opportunity to work in such a passionate and ambitious environment has been unmatched to anything I’ve attempted to accomplish so far. I hope to aid the Barrick’s growth as much as it has already committed to help me. 

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