UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

End of a Semester; Beginning of a Dream

By J. Walesa

End of a Semester; Beginning of a Dream

J. Walesa is a junior at UNLV majoring in History and Art and the Fall 2020 Museum Research Intern at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art; she can be found on Instagram @j.walesa. She is working to become a researcher and writer and uses those positions to delve into many a topic, including the history of the horror and sci-fi genres, interactions between pop culture and true crime, and many others. One day, she is going to showcase art at the Barrick, and will keep creating art with that day in mind (with her furry friend, Charlie, keeping her company through the whole process).


My time as an intern at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art has poked a new notch onto my belt of life experiences, and it is one I will cherish for a long time coming. As I major in both History and Art, my academic pursuits meshed nicely with the Barrick’s fluid way of moving through projects. I could apply my skills in research to writing pieces across various topics, my deep appreciation of a good archiving system aided in maintaining a record of the Barrick’s tenure as an art museum, and a love of art and quirks manifested in maintaining the Barrick’s vast collection of items.

As an ex-natural history museum, we have some odd stuff interspersed among our art collection: a Civil War bayonet, fossilized sloth dung, and also just a lot of rocks. Endless rocks. Nonetheless, the eclectic nature of the Barrick’s history draws me in and keeps me looking for the next item that sticks in my head, whether it be found in storage or in looking at a piece of art with a different perspective.

The best part of experiencing art is just being made to feel something. No matter who you are, a member of the UNLV community, a Las Vegan, a tourist, or even a furry friend of the Barrick, you will find a piece of the museum that elicits that magical emotional something. I felt joy, despair, and anger all within my first browsing of the galleries and it has made me feel more alive and hopeful in every walkthrough since. Being able to access art in these dour times breaks through the monotony of life that can so easily settle in and offers a respite among the insanity. I cheer in my head a little at the visitors that do make the journey to us, glad that they can experience the magic of this wonderful place too.

Being able to pursue an internship during the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly offered its own unique tribulations. For a while there during the application process I was hesitant to even throw my all into something that, like everything else in the world at the time and even now, could have been a terrible experience simply because of how protocols for being humans has changed over the past several months.

Pushing past that, my first interview with Alisha Kerlin, the Barrick’s Executive Director, ensured that jumping into the unknown can be a huge risk, but it is one that has paid off in spades. My time there is a luxury I am endlessly thankful for, with opportunities abound to stretch past my current fields and approach the unknown with bliss. Even just being able to get out of my apartment every Friday and come to the Barrick has been its own blessing. I’m glad the Barrick has volunteer opportunities, so although my internship is ending, my joy of working here does not have to. Every day is different, but none go unappreciated.

I was lucky enough to find this opportunity sitting in my UNLV email over the summer. The College of Liberal Arts, and specifically Jenna Heath, were eager to share internship openings and opened my eyes to new ways to interact with UNLV resources. If a student was feeling more personally proactive, the Office of Community Engagement has numerous links to activities, internships, mentorships, and resources galore. My best advice to others seeking out an internship or something similar is to just go for it. If it catches your eye, apply for it. Don't push it off until tomorrow or wallow in the pit of "what ifs," just go for it. Prepare yourself for the process (you can find resources relating to strengthening resumes, cover letters, and interview skills on Handshake or through Career Services) and you will cultivate helpful experience along the way. Even if just ends up with learning what you don't want to pursue as a career, you still got something incredibly helpful from the process that gives you a leg up in your respective career trajectory. Fingers crossed you find something to fall in love with, though, as the Barrick has offered me.

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