Molly Boarati (Academic Program Assistant)
I remember visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice for the first time as a junior in high school during a whirlwind spring break trip of Italy. That cold March day the museum was almost empty. The warm afternoon light flooded each room and glowed on the marble floors as we explored Peggy’s former home, filled with paintings and sculpture by modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, and Alexander Calder. It was a magical atmosphere where one had the feeling that anything could happen. I knew I wanted to return.
My next trip to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection was in college, while I was studying abroad in Rome. It wasn’t until the year after graduation that I was able to apply to their (paid!) internship program—a fantastic opportunity to experience the museum and Venice for an extended period of time. In February 2005 I packed my bags and went to spend three months with other young adults from around the world, all of us interested in pursuing a career in the arts. As an intern, I played a role in making the museum operate; I sold tickets, guarded the galleries, and gave “Peggy Talks” and tours of the collection. As a group we visited Milan and saw installations by Anselm Kiefer and Dan Flavin, as well as the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Museum staff, like Chief Conservator Paul Schwartzbaum, spoke to us about their jobs, and we learned from each other during weekly intern presentations. I’ll never forget how, after closing time every day, it was our duty to put on the art’s “pajamas”—custom-made fabric pieces that snugly covered each painting over night.
This was an experience that has stayed with me in many ways. My Italian greatly improved, I travelled the Veneto region, and eight years later I’m still in touch with many of the other interns, who quickly became good friends. I learned the bridges and alleys, and the art and people of Venice—a city I now consider a second home. The Guggenheim internship opened doors that helped me arrive where I am today. Grazie Peggy!
For more information on the program and how to apply through Duke, visit our student intern page.