Summer Centered: David Ly '22 Learns Museum Management
The rising sophomore is gaining exposure to both the managerial and curatorial aspects of museology.
This summer, David Ly ’22 has learned that it takes a lot more than paintings to run a successful museum. He’s found himself immersed in the world of business and community outreach that supports the exhibits. Supported by the Center for Career and Professional Advising’s Liberal Arts in the Workplace Grant, the rising sophomore is interning at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) in Philadelphia this summer.
As a development intern, Ly’s focus is on the administrative and fundraising side of the museum’s business. But his position has also exposed him to several aspects of museum management, from exhibitions to outreach.
“I am responsible for building a profile around potential donors to the museum that the director will be meeting with,” he said, describing one of his rotating tasks. “One of my biggest projects involved building a profile of around 50-plus prominent lawyers that were former clerks to the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Ly’s also been trusted to handle some of the museum’s finances, as he has been tasked with keeping a budget for the events he plans for the Young Friend’s Group at NMAJH. His role isn’t limited to the behind-the-scenes management, however; he’s also producing a potential exhibit with a group of his fellow interns.
“My group is working to have an exhibition on the Manhattan Project, focusing on the scientists that were involved as well as all the women that played a part but were not given attention to,” he said.
As a rising sophomore, this summer experience has been incredibly informative for Ly. Though he’s leaning towards classics or mathematics, his major is undecided. Interning at NMAJH has exposed him to a potential career path were he to pursue the former.
“The museum provides seminars in which they teach interns about the functions of a museum and the careers that are available,” he said. “I get to hear from others about their job in a museum and how they ended up there. They have been very interesting and helpful.”
Ly is stepping away from this summer with a valuable assortment of operational tools under his belt. Now that he’s seen what makes up a museum, inside and out, he can hone in his focus on whatever comes next.
“It's been a great experience,” he said. “I really like working in the office atmosphere and talking to other interns and staff of the museum. This internship has taught me that there are a lot more factors that come into the functioning of a museum than I imagined.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.