Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Marisa DeSalvio '10

Posted on May 5, 2011

Interpretive Guide Intern |  Washington, D.C.

After graduation, I decided to pursue an internship at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC. I had spent the past four years at Wheaton developing a strong interest in literature and art history but found it impossible to find a career involving both or choosing between the two. My Interpretive Guide internship at the Hirshhorn really opened my eyes to all of the intersections between art and literature and helped me to eventually settle on my career choice of Museum Educator.

The exhibition I worked on was a large retrospective for Argentinean painter, Guillermo Kuitca. We spent a few weeks reading his writings, studying articles and drawing connections to his material. Immediately, I realized Kuitca was connected to many things I had studied at Wheaton. Sometimes it was as simple as the fact that he had obsessively painted the dramatic climax of the film, “Battleship Potemkin,” which I had watched in my Modern Drama class and other times, his work reminded me of the complex literary theory I had learned in English 290 ("Approaches to Literature and Culture"). I would walk around the galleries and be reminded of a Samuel Beckett play, a scene from Anna Karenina, a quote from Don DeLillo, and it dawned on me that museums are the key to holding both literature and art together. From that point on, I began to develop creative writing based art tours for the museum’s permanent collection and started thinking of how more literature could be involved.

I am currently interning at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where they have really drawn on the connections between literature and art history by having a poet in residence, several creative writing workshops and activities for students, and lectures involving American poetry and literature.

My goal is eventually to work in Museum Education, developing these types of programs for museums and all of their different audiences. Next year, I hope to apply what I have learned in Museum Education by teaching kindergarten in Qatar and volunteering at the museums in Doha. I hope to find new ways to connect the English language to art and help develop tours for non-native English speakers.

My education at Wheaton was instrumental in allowing me to make connections to such diverse and interesting fields and I know I will continue to draw on what I have learned to share and encourage knowledge in others.

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