My Summer as an Environmental and Social Intern

This summer, I am interning with the Economics and Sustainability Department at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group (https://www.miga.org/). MIGA promotes foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries by providing guarantees (political risk insurance and credit enhancement) to private sector investors and lenders. MIGA’s guarantees protect against non-commercial risks (e.g. civil unrest or government expropriation) and can help investors obtain access to funding sources with improved financial terms and conditions.

As a multilateral development agency, sustainability of the guaranteed project is important, and MIGA can only support investments that meet the Agency’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability (https://www.miga.org/Documents/MIGA_Performance_Standards_October_2013.pdf). MIGA’s Environment, Social, and Integrity (MIGEI) unit is responsible for conducting environmental, social, climate change and integrity due diligence of potential projects and monitoring the compliance of projects supported by MIGA guarantees.

As an Environmental and Social (E&S) Intern, I support the E&S specialists to evaluate potential projects. My work primarily consists of performing background research to support early screening of investments that have applied for a MIGA guarantee. To screen investments, I use online tools and databases to identify potential biodiversity issues related to a project’s location. I also conduct contextual risk research, which involves assessing the risks associated with specific sectors in different countries. Understanding a project’s physical, social, and political environment allows members of the E&S team to better assist investors and lenders with creating and maintaining sustainable practices.

This internship is a great opportunity for me, as I am particularly interested in sustainable development and development economics. Working at MIGA will allow me to improve my writing and communication skills and to further my knowledge of developing countries. By the end of my internship with MIGA, I hope to be able to apply what I am learning to my international relations coursework. I am excited to spend the rest of my summer interning at MIGA, familiarizing myself with its work and development impact.

 

Hello from Colonial Williamsburg!

My name is Caitlin and as part of my Woody Museum Studies Internship experience this summer, I am working with the curator of Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture at Colonial Williamsburg. I am an Anthropology Major with an Art History Minor. My placement with paintings was well suited to my knowledge base and interest, and, thus far, what I’ve enjoyed most about my internship is getting the opportunity to dive deep into research on the paintings in the collection, getting personal with the sitters and artists by researching their genealogy, timelines of their lives, where and when they were in a particular city and why. There are many questions involved in curatorial research, many of which remain unanswered due to lack of documentation. This is especially true for many of the paintings and artists that I have been researching, who aren’t particularly well known but still prolific and incredibly talented. Thus, much of the research is like doing a puzzle, but with only a few pieces to assemble it.

This summer has consisted of a number of varying projects in the department, rather than a single project for the entire summer. These projects provide a broad scope of everything that the curators at Colonial Williamsburg do in their job. Every few weeks I’ve been able to attend the accessions meetings with the collections staff, in which I’ve learned a lot about how accessioning objects works and the way in which a large institution makes decisions and plans for its future. We also have intern professional development tours once a week, in which all of the Colonial Williamsburg Interns meet with the curators and conservators of a department to get better acquainted with the collection. It has also been great to meet the other interns and learn about what they’re doing in their internship. In my ten weeks working with Colonial Williamsburg, I hope to gain comprehensive understanding of what a curator’s job entails, acquaint myself with Early American Art and Folk Art, and build professional skills and connections.

Hello from Winterthur!

This summer I am lucky enough to be spending ten weeks at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library as William & Mary’s Woody Intern in Museum Studies. My name is Lydia Heaton, and am a rising senior majoring in History with a (soon-to-be-declared) minor in French & Francophone Studies. Countless childhood trips to museums and historical sites sparked my history obsession, and history (and public history) classes at William & Mary have only fed the flames. Despite my love of museums I had not worked at one before I arrived at Winterthur.

I plan to spend this internship observing as much as possible about the way museums operate and the responsibilities of different staff members as I try to decide which career path to pursue going into graduate school. Acquiring practical experience in object handling, object research, and public program development are additional goals that my responsibilities here at Winterthur are perfectly tailored to meet.

Although this is a late start to my summer blogging, I have posts planned about the first few weeks that will be coming soon and I’m more than ready to start documenting my museum-related adventures! It has certainly been a whirlwind, and I’ve already learned a lot.

A bit of background…

Turned into a museum by Henry Francis du Pont (or “H.F.” as he is affectionately referred to around here) in 1951, the oldest rooms in the sprawling main house date to the 1830s.  A horticulturalist and collector from the fabulously wealthy du Pont family,  Winterthur displays H.F.’s extraordinary collection of American decorative arts within his former home as well as in traditional gallery space. The arrangement of rooms and decor is eclectic. Turn a corner and you might find antique firefighting equipment, a room of miniature furniture, an elegant bedroom, or a bowling alley converted into a lane of shop windows. Even though I’ve been here for weeks, I still find a new part of the property almost every day. I probably telegraph my intern status pretty clearly, wandering around while frowning at my 9-page map. There are also three elevators, and just to confuse you, none of them run to every floor in the house. Only the 5th floor is part of the regular tour, which gives you a sense of the collection’s size!

The White and Gold Room on the 6th Floor, which I think is my favorite bedroom in the house (even though the furniture looks like it might break if you sat in it. If I took ownership, I think I would add an armchair...)
The White and Gold Room on the 6th Floor, which I think is my favorite bedroom in the house (even though the furniture looks like it might break if you sat in it. If I took ownership, I think I would add an armchair…)

As its official title suggests, Winterthur is more than just a museum. Its library and conservation labs support museum staff, visiting scholars, and graduate programs in American Material Culture and Art Conservation taught in partnership with the University of Delaware. Rolling fields and extensive gardens surround the house itself. An avid gardener, DuPont paid meticulous personal attention to the design and maintenance of his grounds. My next blog posts will go into more detail about my first few weeks and regular duties, but I will finish with a few highlights from my time here so far…

-Care and Handling: To my mild amazement, I am now allowed to touch the objects in the collection. Getting certified in Care & Handling was something I was very excited about. After watching a series of videos and filling out a worksheet, I walked through the house with one of Winterthur’s staff members and moved a teapot in Mrs. Dupont’s bedroom from one table to another. Certification does not imply expertise, however – the real learning process is ongoing, as I watch and help the curators and other staff members work with objects.

-Enchanted Summer Day: I volunteered at a Saturday event for kids celebrating the beginning of summer. The program was centered in Winterthur’s Enchanted Forest garden, but I manned one of the craft stations in the main entry hall. The grounds were full of families, and the event was a big success! I, meanwhile, have a new addition to my resume: making paper butterfly necklaces. Potential employers reading this, I don’t mean to brag when I say that I am now capable of making a pretty fabulous butterfly out of accordion-folded paper and beads. In all seriousness, the children were absolutely adorable (so much glitter! And pink! And fairy wings!), and I had a lot of fun.

– My office: My office is tucked away in the curatorial department on the 6th floor, full of an eclectic mix of postcards and printouts left by previous occupants (cataloguers formerly occupied the space). I am already thinking about what I want to add to the collage. Nothing will be as impressive as my personal favorite, though. Above the ceramic medallion of San Pietro in Rome, a cookie tin from Rainbow Row in Charleston, four mariachi rubber ducks, and two empty wine bottles, a two-foot-long wooden pig sculpture sits on the top shelf. Why is it here? Who decided that this pig was necessary office decoration? I have absolutely no idea, and no one else seems to know either!

The office pig...
The office pig…

Week 1 Phillips Collection

Hey it’s Charlie and I’ve finished over a full week at the Phillips Collection! I’m doing a bunch of different stuff and I love it so far. I’ve been primarily splitting my time between Music, Public Programs, Exhibitions. I’ve found sitting in on meetings where many different parts of the museum intersect has been illuminating for my understanding of how a museum operates. I have so much to learn but I feel like I already have a clearer idea of what curation looks like in practice. I’m most excited to continue researching works in an upcoming exhibition of Nordic paintings to make blurbs for the show’s placards.

Everyone in the office is super nice and they’re all really good at their jobs. It’s great!