Atlanta-native Monisha Bernard moved to New Jersey to pursue the M.A. in Museum Professions program within the College of Communication and the Arts just last fall, hoping to utilize the program's objective to pair classroom education with experiential learning through internships. During her first semester in the program, Bernard was selected for a two-year internship program at the Newark Museum of Art as a Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative Intern.
After hearing about Seton Hall from an undergraduate professor and mentor, Bernard decided to apply to the College's graduate school because of its unique structure. "I liked the small size of the program and the objectives to pair in-class experiences with direct experience through museum visits. Gaining hands-on experience in the art museum on campus as an undergraduate was how I started on this museum journey. I liked how this program mirrored that experience, so I applied and was accepted."
Bernard comes to Seton Hall with years of field experience and a B.A. in Art History from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Although she worked for years within the museum field, Bernard decided to continue her education to gain knowledge and experiential-learning opportunities from the program. Gaining experience from previous employment helped her to determine her career goals and which museum career she wished to pursue. Bernard now aspires to become an art museum curator and is taking courses focused in Exhibition Development within the M.A. in Museum Professions program to supplement her previous experiences.
"My museum work and internship experience started at the Zuckerman Museum of Art located at my undergraduate university. After graduating I took several years off to strengthen my museum skills before pursuing graduate school. I worked at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, completed a curatorial internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia and completed an archival internship at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. These experiences were invaluable to me and have helped prepare me for my current internship and graduate school courses."
As this is Bernard's first time in New Jersey, she sought to gain experience in a local museum to understand and appreciate local culture and history and to gain experience in the field. She conducted research of institutions surrounding the University and came across the Newark Museum, to which she applied after encouragement from Professor Gregory Stevens, M.A.T. She is now a curatorial intern in the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, a grant-funded program seeking to increase diversity in art museums across the country. "I took an interest in this internship initiative because I honestly believe that by providing internships to under-represented college students, museums can better reflect their communities and provide a platform for voices that were previously unheard," Bernard said. She conducts a multitude of tasks within this program, something she considers beneficial since she hopes to work in a mid-sized museum that requires her to take on multiple roles on top of being a curator.
"Most of my professional museum experiences have been at small to medium-sized museums and after graduate school here at Seton Hall, I hope to continue working in that environment. I enjoy being able to work in multiple departments and having different duties each week. I've learned that being a museum professional today, adaptability is key. Assisting with installations, research, events and programs is fun and educational and it helps you learn what works and what doesn't in different departments and with different museum visitors," she said.
Within the curatorial department, Monisha is responsible for conducting research for upcoming exhibitions and programs that are created in conjunction with the education department of the Newark Museum. She enjoys that the exhibitions and programs at the museum aim to be open and available to the residents of Newark, a mission she is happy to be a part of as they embark on the goal of supporting inclusivity. Bernard has enjoyed every aspect of her internship so far, but the task she enjoyed the most was being able to compose an artist label for a piece by graffiti artist Jerry Gant, a man not only influential to the town of Newark itself, but to Bernard as well. For the rest of the program, Monisha has been tasked with working on a project of her choice, and she is excited to use her creativity and passion to create an exhibition or program that supports the Newark Museum's mission.
"The Newark Museum of Art to really want to serve their community as well as change old narratives through their exhibits and programs. I'm honestly just happy being a part of a museum trying to become more inclusive."
The M.A. in Museum Professions is designed for individuals interested in pursuing careers in museums or related cultural institutions. In addition, the College of Communication and the Arts currently offers another graduate program in Communication. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered.
For more information about Graduate Studies within the College of Communication and the Arts, please contact Ryan Hudes, Ph.D.
Categories: Arts and Culture