Laine Lord is passionate about all things involving art, writing, and museums. This passion led to a dream-come-true internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York City, the largest art museum in the nation and one of the most respected art institutions in the world.
A native of West Bloomfield, Michigan, Lord is a senior double majoring in Art History and Visual Culture and French, with a minor in Museum Studies, at Michigan State University. She decided to spend the last summer of her undergraduate career as a curatorial intern at a major art museum. She sent applications to 20 different art museums across the country, with The Met being her first choice.
“Although my dream was large, I took the chance and submitted an application,” she said. “When I learned of my acceptance in The Met’s internship program, I was beyond excited for the summer to start. However, alongside my excitement came nerves, as I knew this internship was going to be so different from anything I’d ever done.”
For Lord, moving to New York alone was nerve-racking, but proved to be a fantastic and amazing experience, one in which she found a supportive community of friends, colleagues, and mentors who made her time in New York much easier – and exciting.
“Although my dream was large, I took the chance and submitted an application. When I learned of my acceptance in The Met’s internship program, I was beyond excited for the summer to start.”
“It is such a fun city to live in for the summer with the most incredible and lively art scene,” she said. “So many of my favorite memories in New York City resulted from me going outside my comfort zone. And I am beyond grateful for the new friends who made my summer so fun and special.”
At The Met, Lord worked as an Adrienne Arsht Intern within the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing (MCRW), with a specific focus on the arts of sub-Saharan Africa. During the 10-week summer 2023 internship, she worked on a series of projects supporting the MCRW’s reinstallation, which is planned to open in 2025. The projects varied in task and scope, allowing Lord to build a broad perspective on the curatorial practices in the MCRW.
“This experience was so insightful, giving me a unique perspective on The Met’s curatorial practices, and allowing me to enhance my research skills,” Lord said. “Assisting with projects for the upcoming reinstallation of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, my knowledge of African Art and curatorial work has blossomed.”
Out of the multiple projects Lord assisted with, the one that sticks out to her as the most comprehensive was the gathering of contextual images for the MCRW reinstallation.
“Over the course of the internship, my co-intern and I researched, gathered, and scanned over 50 contextual photographs illustrating the various artworks, artists, and artistic processes that will be present in the Wing’s reinstallation,” Lord said. “Outside of this extensive project, I completed supplemental curatorial research and helped alongside the curatorial development of a gallery within the new wing.”
“Every day coming to work at The Met, an institution that I was so passionate about, was a dream come true. After this internship, I know for a fact that I want to continue a career in the mission-driven and arts- and education-focused field of art museums.”
In addition to broadening her knowledge of today’s best curatorial practices, her internship also strengthened Lord’s research skills. Her work on the contextual images project required intensive research into the artworks, geographies, and artistic practices of sub-Saharan Africa, which greatly expanded her knowledge of African art history. The internship also gave Lord insight, experience, and confidence working within both an office setting and a large-scale art museum.
“Every day coming to work at The Met, an institution that I was so passionate about, was a dream come true,” Lord said. “After this internship, I know for a fact that I want to continue a career in the mission-driven and arts- and education-focused field of art museums.”
One of the many perks of working at The Met (and living in New York) was having access to thousands of pieces of incredible art. It also gave her the opportunity to examine one of the most prevalent and controversial topics in the art world – art repatriation.
“One of the most intriguing perks of this internship that widened my perspective on the museum industry was the ability for me to ask a plethora of questions about art repatriation,” Lord said. “Given that the repatriation of art, or the returning of stolen art to their rightful owners and locations, has become such a prevalent topic in the museum world, it was truly fascinating to be able to ask questions about this conversation at an institution that is so intertwined with this debate.”
Lord also used her internship to learn from the curators and museum professionals at The Met, who encouraged and inspired her.
“It was awesome to hear about what they do, how they arrived at The Met, and their advice for a young museum professional like me,” Lord said. “I hope to maintain these connections moving forward. Additionally, with a large intern cohort of 50 students, I made friends and connections with young museum professionals from across the globe who continue to inspire me back at MSU.”
“Looking back on my experience, I feel nothing but gratitude for the skills that I learned, for the kindness I was greeted with, and the friends and mentors I met throughout the summer.”
As she reflects back on her internship, one special moment stands out. Every Wednesday, when the museum was closed to the public, Lord walked around the empty galleries of The Met without the bustle of everyday crowds, finding joy in the stillness and the surreal feeling of an empty museum. Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night was part of an exhibition – standing in front of that painting without crowds is a magical moment that stuck with Lord.
“With each curator, friend, advisor, and mentor that I connected with at The Met, I felt the mission of the museum abundantly clear,” Lord said. “Looking back on my experience, I feel nothing but gratitude for the skills that I learned, for the kindness I was greeted with, and the friends and mentors I met throughout the summer.”
Lord plans to graduate in May 2024 and will apply to both graduate school programs and full-time museum positions. As for the remainder of her senior year, she will continue her curatorial and education internships at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on campus, research with the Archive of Malian Photography, and presidency of the student-led Art History Association.