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La Salle News

February 1, 2012

Recent La Salle University Graduate Clara Menton Receives Guggenheim Internship to Study in Italy

Clara Menton, a recent La Salle University graduate who majored in Art History and Italian, has been accepted into the Peggy Guggenheim Collection’s internship program in Venice, Italy, starting in March, for three months.

“I’ve always loved history,” says Menton, who was in the University’s Honors Program. “One of my high school teachers used to say that ‘art and literature are the flesh on the bones of history.’ I never really understood her perspective until I was part of an Italian exchange program in high school. Through that program, I was able to go on a tour of Italy, which is where my obsession for Italian art and culture began.”

This will be Menton’s fourth trip to Italy. While at La Salle, she studied in Rome the spring semester of her junior year, in 2010.

La Salle Art History Professor Siobhan M. Conaty, once a Guggenheim intern herself, suggested Menton apply for the program. “I knew I had to try for it,” says Menton, who is from Newark, Delaware.

The Peggy Guggenheim internship is very competitive, with a 1 in 10 success rate. Each intern also must be able to hold a conversation Italian, since the internship involves daily interaction with an Italian staff, Italian interns, and with an often Italian-speaking public.

“I had to write an essay on my intentions and explain my interest in art. I had to have two letters of recommendation and proof that I had a grasp of Italian,” says Menton, who was named the top Fine Arts student at La Salle for 2011.

“This was an internship I was familiar with since I myself interned there,” said Siobhan Conanty, a professor of Art History at La Salle. “I don’t recommend the internship to many students because of its competitiveness, but with Clara’s background in Art and Italian, I thought it’d be a great fit. I was thrilled when I heard Clara received the internship. She is only the second La Salle alum to accomplish this.”

As an intern at the Guggenheim Museum, Menton will assist in the daily operation of the museum. In addition to tasks such as guarding the artworks, interns are assigned to help the staff in the offices (administration, public affairs, press, library, publications, registrar research, retail operations). They also act as docents (guides) and may be involved with projects such as the preparation of catalogues, the installation of exhibitions or conservation and photographic campaigns. Each intern is also required to present a talk to museum staff.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing all the art! The museum is foremost the personal collection of modern and contemporary art of Peggy Guggenheim in an 18th century palace she called home. I’m also excited to work in the museum and see how it functions in a city built on stilts. I’m curious how the curators exhibit the art and how they make it accessible to such a varied public,” said Menton.

She will be working in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, where Peggy Guggenheim lived and where much of her art collection is still located.

Located on Venice’s Grand Canal, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of Europe’s premier museums devoted to modern art.

“I hope to one day be a museum curator, to plan and execute exhibitions, but through my internships, I have become aware of many different departments within museums that I enjoy. Honestly, as long as I’m working in a museum, and get to experience art every day, I’ll be happy,” says Menton.

Some of Menton’s previous experiences definitely boosted her application. She was an education intern at the La Salle University Art Museum her senior year. At this internship, she made lesson plans, art activities, and a family guide which centered on the art collection and focused on a range of ages from 3 to18. This internship led her to a Student and Teacher Programs internship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in its Education Department from June to August, 2011. Menton helped organize teacher development programs and tours. As part of a group of 45 interns, she also got private tours of the museum and informative seminars lead by curators and the directors of various other departments. “Through both internships I was able to learn more about the operations of both small and large museums as well as gain valuable experience in the field of museum education,” says Menton.

Katherine Blessing