GLAM/Case studies/Walters Art Museum/Internship

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Walters Art Museum

Inspired by the Wikipedian in Residence model, the Walters Art Museum created a Web and Social Media Internship that incorporates Wikipedia related tasks. Like many museums, the Walters relies on interns to provide support to staff, and to provide staff an opportunity to share their skill sets and help train the next generation of museum professionals. After seeing the success of Wikipedians in Residence programs internationally, the web and social media department decided to include Wikipedia as an aspect of their Web and Social Media Internship.

This internship focuses on a skill set critical to contemporary museum professionals - proficiency in producing digital content, online marketing, and general technical aptitude in computer science related skills. As Wikipedia becomes a more powerful tool, the Walters took it upon themselves to incorporate "Creating and editing Wikipedia content," as a main opportunity for this internship. This internship, which is unpaid, provides students academic credit for their dedication to a minimum of ten weeks of flexible hourly work.

Fall 2012 internship[edit]

In the Fall of 2012, the Walters had their first intern, Jessica, who incorporated Wikipedia into her tasks. Over the course of a number of months, working part time, Jessica wrote 13 English Wikipedia articles about artworks held by the Walters. All of these articles meet Wikipedia's general notability guidelines:

These artwork articles have been viewed over 4800 times collectively to date since their creations.

Jessica also added images from the Walters collection, which were part of the image donation of over 18,000 collection images made by the Walters to Wikimedia Commons, to Wikipedia articles. She added images to 163 articles. Articles that were improved using Walters content include:

Learnings[edit]

Through this internship, the student learned skills associated with:

  • Curatorial and art history research skills
  • Editing and writing Wikipedia mark-up
  • Wikipedia policies and procedures such as notability, neutrality and conflict of interest policies
  • Working within a collaborative online community
  • Improved skills related to Excel and collections management systems

Reflections[edit]

This internship proved successful for both improving the skill set of the intern and for making the Walters collection more accessible to the world through Wikipedia. The Walters was successful at bringing in a non-Wikipedian museum studies student and turning them into a Wikipedian who will be able to bring their skills with Wikipedia mark-up and policy to future institutions. The Walters continues to offer this internship and will continue to work with the Wikipedia community to continually improve their "Wikipedia collection," and the skill set of future museum professionals.