Summer Centered: Rachel Kline '20 Can't Wait to Curate
The history of art and anthropology double major is applying her skills as an intern for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This summer, Rachel Kline ’20 has been reinvigorating the past for a public audience. The history of art and anthropology double major is interning in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s (PMA) European painting curatorial department. Her summer experience, which is supported by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, takes her behind the scenes of an institution that's caught her eye since she was young.
“I grew up near Philadelphia and have been going to the PMA for more than 15 years,” she said. “I knew I wanted to get some experience doing research in a curatorial department this summer to make sure this career path was for me, and I was especially looking to work at the PMA because I was so familiar with the collection.”
The museum’s iconic location isn’t the only familiar aspect of the job for Kline. Her examination of the museum’s store of historic artwork allows her to constantly draw on lessons learned in her Bi-Co classes.
“This internship provides an opportunity for the direct application of my studies in the History of Art Department,” she said. “Throughout my coursework, I've completed numerous research papers and this process of consulting other scholarly work in art history has taught me how to think critically and interpret new information.”
In particular, the spring 2019 course, “Ornament,” taught by Assistant Professor Sylvia Houghteling, proved instrumental for Kline’s digital research project on Spanish art by supplying her with the requisite knowledge to analyze Renaissance-era armor. Research investigations on the museum’s catalog make up the bulk of Kline’s work, with her findings having the potential to affect what the museum puts on display. For one specific project, the rising senior ascertained a painting’s creator after an accidental discovery revealed that the work might be more notable than originally believed.
“I was tasked with researching the history of the painting and comparing it to other works by [Sir Peter] Lely to see if the attribution is correct,” she said. “If we find that the attribution is credible, my research will help steer the department towards accessioning the painting into our collection and possibly exhibiting it in the future.”
Kline has also found her minor in Italian particularly useful as she routinely reads Italian texts when conducting her research. Interning at the PMA has given Kline the opportunity to employ each aspect of her academics in the exploration of a potential career path. As she enters her senior year, the experience has left her more confident about the trajectory she’s put herself on.
“This experience has provided me with an in depth look at how a curatorial department at a major art museum runs and the art historical research needed to best interpret the collection,” she said. “My time at the PMA has solidified my desire to attend graduate school and become a curator.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.