Summer 2023 Chrysler Museum Interns: Isabel Grewatz
I am Isabel Grewatz, a rising junior at George Mason University and a 757 local — proud to be from Virginia Beach. I am currently pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in Art History, with a minor in Forensic Science, and I intend to use this combination of arts and sciences to broaden the museum jobs, events, and departments that I can be a part of in the future. When I first entered college I was a Forensic Science major with no space in my schedule to take any of the classes I really wanted to take, like Art History. I switched majors after my first year, and working at Chrysler confirms that I made the right decision.
When applying to this internship, I was specifically drawn to Development and Curatorial. But when I was accepted as the Development intern I knew the skills I had picked up throughout student involvement — in both high school and college — would come into play. This job is very interactive in that I had to have an open line of communication between myself, my supervisors, Museum staff, and the members we were reaching out to. I also had the unique opportunity to have weekly team meetings and interact with the Museum Director. I have always been a person that will jump to do something for someone else or have a conversation with someone. In Development the way I used my people skills to help with membership, largely with the membership program at the higher levels along with sub-committee and Trustee collateral.
This summer I have primarily been under the wing of Liz Hamilton, Major Giving Officer, and learning how Museum membership comes into play for funding. I mainly focused on the Masterpiece Society members and their exclusive events. The Masterpiece Society consists of members of the Chrysler who donate annually a minimum of $3,000 all the way up to $25,000. They make up 68% of the membership revenue income for the museum, so we show how much their support means to us in various ways. From exclusive events with Curators and the Director, to handwritten postcards, it’s our job to make sure they are constantly in the loop of events at the Chrysler. The Masterpiece Society members are the pinnacle of our mission of bringing art and people together, and we are thankful to them and all our Museum members.
Even though my focus was in learning was about the Masterpiece Society, Development is not a department that stands alone. This led me to learning not only how to help Development, but I was also able to learn about HR, Communications, Curatorial, and so many more departments by being an extra hand when they needed it. My unique layout of work had allowed me to be ready to complete tasks on a day-to-day basis rather than having one or two long term projects. This broadened my experience and I was able to interact and learn from various people in different positions.
These tasks varied: one week I would be handwriting around 200 thank you postcards for masterpiece members, and another week I would be assisting the Director’s office with putting together all the information needed for a Board of Trustees meeting. My longer term projects consisted of working alongside Communications and developing new ideas to create a newsletter, specifically catering to Masterpiece members, events, and interests. This newsletter allows Masterpiece members to feel even more connected and get a deeper behind-the-scenes look at the people, interests, and jobs of those in the Chrysler who they might not interact with regularly, while also receiving their event information and updates.
Another long-term project was creating a comprehensive binder for the Masterpiece Steering Committee, which is the volunteer group that makes the decisions for and about the entire Masterpiece Society. For this group I have been working in conjunction with Liz Hamilton on creating and organizing information that includes things like the “ job description” and goals for the members of the committee, a full roster of Masterpiece members, the calendar list of events for the year, facts and impacts of MPS on museum operations and the community, and more. This information allows those on the Steering Committee to grow in their positions and presents all of the information they need in a concise and convenient manner.
I came into this internship knowing that there are so many things that go on behind the scenes at a museum, but knowing and understanding are two different things.
My favorite experience during this internship was not all of the projects, but all the meetings I was able to sit in on. On my second day of work, I was able to sit in a meeting where Chelsea Pierce, McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, was proposing a full rehang of the Contemporary galleries. I was starstruck from that moment on. I was able to participate in meetings about the upcoming Reckonings and Reconstructions exhibit, the Paul McCartney exhibit, weekly meetings with our department and the Director, and so many more. All these meetings really allowed me to understand the work that goes on putting on an exhibit, the collaboration that it takes to run a museum, and how funding comes into play. I came into this internship knowing that there are so many things that go on behind the scenes at a museum, but knowing and understanding are two different things. Now with all of these experiences that I have gained, I understand what it takes to keep this institution running and how everything the Chrysler does is in light of its mission: to bring art and people together.