Catching up with our 2023 Ashby Utting Arts Administration Interns

29 Sep 2023
Two people standing together and smiling at the camera
2023 Ashby Utting Arts Administration interns Manny and Ruby. This internship is designed to provide hands-on training in museum administration and operations, and is generously supported by Ashby Utting. Photo: Louis Lim.

In 2023, we have been able to offer seven paid internships, in different specialisations of museum operations. Our paid internship model allows students to work as part of our team in a supportive and compassionate environment, and to be mentored by members of our expert staff.  

We owe our ability to provide two of these enriching opportunities to the generous support of the Ashby Utting Foundation, whose contributions have equipped past interns to embark on flourishing careers within the arts sector in leading public and private galleries and museums. 

The Ashby Utting Arts Administration internship is specifically tailored to students interested in art museum business operations. Over the course of a year, this internship offers a comprehensive learning experience, exposing interns to broad responsibilities including finance, administration, venue hire, advancement and audience engagement.  

Manny Raheja and Ruby MacGregor are this year's interns and below they share more about how their roles within the UQ Art Museum team have begun to help shape their professional experiences so far. 

Person standing in a gallery space and looking at the camera
Manny in the UQ Art Museum Open Storage teaching and learning space. The space is a learning resource for students in a range of areas, including Museum Studies and Art History. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

Manny Raheja  

Manny is studying a Masters in Tourism, Hospitality and Event management, and completed a course in Museum Exhibitions in the Museum Studies discipline. He has also explored courses in visitor management, marketing, and research, which have helped to enhance his internship experience.  

What is something you look forward to engaging in? 

As an admin and marketing intern at the UQ Art Museum, something I look forward to engaging in is understanding the intricate processes involved in cultural institutions. Cultural institutions have unique dynamics, operations, and goals that require a comprehensive understanding to effectively support their mission.  

To tackle this challenge, I am excited to immerse myself in various aspects of the museum's operations. This may involve learning about the acquisition and curation of art collections, understanding the exhibition planning and installation processes, and grasping the intricacies of museum programming and educational initiatives. 

By engaging in cross-functional interactions, attending meetings, and shadowing staff members, I will gain valuable insights into the inner workings of the museum and how each department contributes to its overall mission. 

What is one valuable insight you have learnt about your role since joining the team? 

I have come to realise how administration tasks form the backbone of the museum's day-to-day functioning. From managing schedules and appointments to coordinating logistics for events and exhibitions, the administrative tasks I handle contribute to the smooth operation of the museum.  

Moreover, I have witnessed firsthand how my contributions in event development and membership planning help amplify the museum's reach and impact. By curating engaging events and designing attractive membership plans, I am able to enhance the visibility of the museum's exhibitions, programs, and educational initiatives.  

How will this experience impact your career? 

The skills I am developing in event planning, marketing, relationship building, analytical thinking, and creativity will greatly benefit my future career. These skills are transferable across industries and will enable me to effectively organize events, promote products or services, build strong connections, analyse data, and think innovatively. They enhance my employability, provide a solid foundation for career growth, and enable me to contribute effectively to the success of organisations in diverse contexts.   

Moreover, this opportunity has reaffirmed my passion for working in a cultural institution. Through my involvement in event planning, marketing, and engaging with diverse audiences, I have witnessed the positive impact that cultural institutions have on individuals and communities. I am inspired to combine my love for the arts, event management, and marketing to contribute to the preservation, promotion, and accessibility of art and culture. 

Person smiling and looking at the camera
Photo of Ruby by Rhett Hammerton.

Ruby MacGregor 

Ruby is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Honours), with a dual major in Art History and Anthropology. Moreover, Ruby’s academic background has given her a multidisciplinary approach to working in the museum space.  

What is something that you look forward to engaging in? 

I'm looking forward to deepening my involvement in the engagement aspects of my internship.  

I am currently undertaking new research on graduate employment opportunities in museum spaces and the arts sector. We are currently working towards a draft proposal for a new paid role within the UQ Art Museum aimed at recent graduates, which would provide a valuable new opportunity for emerging arts workers seeking to gain practical experience in Australia. In a market saturated by unpaid internships and limited full time employment opportunities, I'm proud that this is the kind of forward-moving work our team pursues within the museum sector.   

What is one valuable insight you have learnt about your role since joining the team? 

Understanding the importance of administration and business operations in an Art Museum context has been invaluable. While studying both arts and law is an excellent way to be introduced to these concepts in practice, immersing myself in tangible, hands-on experiences has enriched my learning profoundly. It's been a pivotal step in my professional growth. The Ashby Utting internship is unique as it allows you to work across both finance and engagement teams. I have really enjoyed this balance in work as it has allowed for a breadth of experience. 

How will this experience impact your career? 

This role has offered me a unique perspective on museum operations. The flexibility to be able to work across various operational teams from finance to engagement is invaluable. I have been privileged to witness how these different areas of the business collaborate to create the cohesive experience that visitors enjoy. Doing so has certainly broadened my skill set and appreciation for the interconnectedness of each function within the museum.