Coming soon, Illuminating Objects at the Science Museum!

ivory casket detail

I’m Katrina, the current Illuminating Objects intern!  Allow me to introduce myself, and explain a bit about what I’ve been up to at The Courtauld Gallery for the past few months.

Here’s me – but not at The Courtauld Gallery, because the Gallery is currently undergoing a major transformation!

It’s been an interesting experience to work at a gallery that I’ve never actually visited! I first moved to London to start my Masters of Science Communication degree at Imperial College London in October 2018. That was after the Courtauld had already closed to begin Courtauld Connects, and being from Canada, I’d never had a chance to visit the gallery prior to this. So I’ve never seen The Courtauld’s collections on display, but through Illuminating Objects I have had the unique chance to get an amazing ‘behind the scenes’ look at the collection.

This year’s internship opportunity is a bit different from previous ones, because it is the first to collaborate between The Courtauld Gallery and the Science Museum. While The Courtauld Gallery is undergoing renovations, the Illuminating Objects displays will be at the Science Museum. This means I’ve had a really interesting opportunity to show my chosen object in a new light, and to think about its’ scientific and technological history. I have an academic background in chemistry with a minor in collaborative design, so the partnership between these two museums means that I’ve been able to combine my interests in the arts and sciences, all in one project.

With chemistry as my main focus in my undergrad, I had to put some of my interests in the arts on pause.  But then I had the chance to work on an interactive exhibit in 2017; I helped create a display that taught about cognitive biases we face when gambling. It was just a small exhibit on my university campus, but I found it really exciting to see visitors go through it and come out saying that they learned something. After that I was totally hooked—I knew I wanted to explore the world of museums much more! So when the opportunity to apply for the Illuminating Objects internship came up not long into my Masters degree, I knew I had to apply. 

I realized once I started at The Courtauld Gallery just how much I had to learn about art history and curation —my chemistry background certainly hadn’t covered anything in those disciplines! I had to get caught up on even some fairly basic terms, like the difference between collections and archives, and what the word “provenance” really means.

But I think I learned the basics pretty quickly and have found some fascinating things about the object I’ve been researching. With only one month left until my object goes on display, I’m excited to finally be able to share what I’ve been working on!