Two students on the Florence: Arts, Humanities, & Culture program this fall are truly getting an insider’s view of a pair of the city’s major museums through internships at the Uffizi Gallery and the Medici Chapels.
View of Florence
Photo courtesy of Sarah Klooster
Siri Benn from Lawrence University and Madeleine Senko from St. Olaf College, both juniors, are working alongside Italian colleagues for about six hours a week at their internships, the first in the program’s history.
Program Director Jodie Rogers Mariotti, who arranged the internships through her extensive contacts in Florence’s museums and cultural institutions, emphasized that Benn and Senko have the advanced Italian language skills necessary to thrive in the positions.
“At the Medici Chapels, the director was looking for a student capable of critiquing the didactic panels that give details about the artwork, both in Italian and English,” Mariotti said. “It’s a challenging thing to do.”
With her major in art history, Benn was a good candidate for the position, and has gotten off to a good start in her internship. “She’s critiquing the panels, suggesting where more information can be given, checking all of the translations, and actually doing new translations,” Mariotti continued. “I must say that Siri is a very good translator.”
The Uffizi Gallery
Senko, who has a double major in political science and studio art, is doing a variety of tasks in the office of the Uffizi Gallery, a much larger organization. “Everything Madeleine’s doing is related to the operation of the museum,” Mariotti noted. “It’s a perfect placement, because that’s what she wants to do in her career – work in a museum.”
Although the internships do not provide academic credit, “it’s a pretty impressive thing to put on an application to graduate school,” said Mariotti. It’s also a way for students to practice speaking Italian in a professional setting.
For future semesters, Mariotti is working to broaden the network of museums and sites available for placements. Along with an appropriate academic background, a student’s language proficiency – at least two semesters of college-level Italian, or the equivalent – will always be a key requirement for landing an internship.
That’s just the first step, too. “Students will have to interview with me when they arrive in Florence,” Mariotti said, “and the final choice is always up to the museum director. I would suggest that if students are interested in an internship, and their Italian skills make them qualified for this opportunity, they should let us know when they apply to the Florence Program.”