Summer Centered: Rachel Wolfson ’19 Learns the Business Behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The sociology major and history of art minor is part of the Museum Studies Internship Program, helping the PMA evaluate its pricing and membership-benefit practices in its group sales department.
Atop the famous “Rocky Steps” at the southeast end of Fairmount Park stands the distinct greek facade of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA). As the museum’s main building approaches its 100th birthday, Rachel Wolfson ’19 is helping the organization evaluate its pricing and membership-benefit practices during an extensive renovation process. Her internship with the PMA’s group sales department is sponsored by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for Arts and Humanities.
Wolfson’s internship is one of several offered through the PMA’s Museum Studies Internship Program, which places each intern with a specific department. With the group sales department, Wolfson is contacting other local and national institutions to compile information on group-pricing practices, and researching the effects of online tour operators and booking companies on group sales. Two days a week, all interns also participate in group colloquia that feature curator talks, discussions with administrators, and behind-the-scenes tours.
“I really enjoy spending my days at the museum,” said Wolfson, a sociology major who recently also decided to declare a history of art minor at Bryn Mawr. “The perspectives and information gained from the tours with the curators is so interesting and engaging. I am able to expand my knowledge of both the operations of the museum and its collection."
A central asset to a Museum Studies Internship with the PMA is the ability to witness firsthand the operations of a major museum. Though Wolfson has prior experience working with the development office at the Franklin Institute, this is her first time purveying the career options available in fine arts.
“I find this very interesting because I get to be involved with the more business-focused end of the cultural non-profit,” she said.
The rising junior will look to carry her experience back to campus this fall as she hopes to work with the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. After learning from the logistical and curatorial experts at a nationally recognized art institution, she is sure to bring back some insights.
“I think this has definitely solidified my interest in the fine arts,” she said. “In the future, I think I definitely want to work directly with people and the ever changing nature of days at the museums is definitely intriguing.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.