On the corner of 36th and Sansom Streets, across from Kings Court English House at the University of Pennsylvania, a glass and steel monolith looms over the sidewalk—the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Admittedly, I had only been inside the museum a handful of times before this past fall semester at Penn, but when I saw a Penn Art & Culture Internship offered in ICA’s Department of Marketing and Communications with the specific goal to increase the number of students who walked through its doors, I was inclined to pursue the opportunity. As a History of Art major with a minor in Economics, I found the opportunity to approach the operations of an arts institution from a quantitative perspective very appealing. I had prior curatorial experiences in the private gallery setting, but I had never before worked on the business side of a museum. This position would not only give me valuable experience for my career development, but also build upon my interest in creating a greater creative community at Penn. Moreover, despite the rotating gallery spaces, a patio, auditorium, and more at ICA, it appeared to me that undergraduates vastly underutilized this on-campus space. I knew that even many of the freshmen Penn students living a few feet away in Kings Court English House had never visited.
When I was hired for the Fall 2015 marketing position, I embarked on my task to encourage more Penn undergraduates to visit ICA and participated in the constant stream of free programming and events offered at ICA. Director of Marketing and Communications Jill Katz and Communications Associate Becky Huff-Hunter gave me the freedom to be creative in my various marketing tasks. I helped put up printed marketing material like flyers and posters across campus in locations that would be most visible to undergraduate students, and I also reached out to specific student groups to organize events. I am also a Resident Advisor at Harnwell College House, and I began developing a program for my own residential community, in which we did a tour of the exhibitions around campus that included the Arthur Ross Gallery and the Kislak Center along with ICA. With the success of this event, I invited other Residential Assistants and Graduate Assistants across campus to bring their fellow student residents to ICA. By the end of the semester, we successfully organized a two-part event with The Rodin Arts Collective that consisted of a group tour and a book-binding project inspired by Becky Suss’ exhibition on memory and artifacts of her past.