Name: Liujun (Cynthia) Chen
Class Year: 2025
Minor: History of Art
Hometown: Guangzhou, China
Internship Organization: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Job Title: Summer Intern
Location: Philadelphia, PA
What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!
I am a summer intern in the learning and community engagement department at the Penn Museum. My role encompasses a diverse range of tasks, both public-facing and behind-the-scenes, all aimed at enhancing the museum visit experience for our visitors. Throughout my internship, my primary focus has been on creating an interactive and memorable experience for visitors. I designed a captivating table activity for the Wawa Welcome America Festival, as well as a booklet filled with engaging gallery games tailored for our visitors. A significant part of my responsibilities involves leading the "Cartifact'' events in the East Mediterranean gallery, where I facilitate interactions between visitors and replica artifacts, encouraging questions and tactile experiences. Every Wednesday in July, I am also a facilitator of the Garden Jam, a music concert held within the museum. My duties include coordinating with vendors for food sales, arranging the event space, and registering attendees. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to present a 15-minute talk as part of the "Daily Dig" series. In this talk, I discussed two South Asian Buddha Statues, exploring the different materials used in their creation and the distinct origins of the Buddha image. Beyond these tasks, my internship has exposed me to valuable insights into the practices and missions of museums. I have gained knowledge on topics such as public engagement, accessibility, and the repatriation process through a weekly museum practice class and site visits to various museums in Philadelphia.
Why did you apply for this internship?
As an art history minor, I've always been intrigued by the inner workings of a museum. This position aligns perfectly with my academic interests and previous internship experience. Previous coursework expanded my knowledge of art history and archaeology. In addition, my time as a fitness center monitor has honed my communication and customer service skills, while my role as a Peer Health and Wellness Educator has equipped me with event planning skills. This opportunity can provide me with an understanding of the museum field beyond the traditional classroom setting and prepare me for working in a cultural institution in the future.
What has been your favorite part of this internship?
One aspect I truly enjoy is creating educational programs for the museum. Developing games and activities has not only deepened my understanding of the artifacts and exhibitions but also sparked my creativity in crafting experiences suitable for visitors of all ages. Another exciting part of my journey has been the field visits to various museums. During my internship, I explored museums such as the Barnes Foundation, ICA, PMA, African American Museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Despite having visited a few of them in the past, each trip felt entirely new for me. Engaging with museum professionals and participating in guided tours opened my eyes to fascinating details I had previously overlooked. For instance, I discovered the intricacies of metalwork and Barnes' unique art display methods. Additionally, PMA's dedication to amplifying the contributions of Indigenous and Latin American artists in American art left a lasting impression on me.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
The most fulfilling aspect is witnessing a significant number of individuals engage in our events at the museum. Each Garden Jam attracts over 200 enthusiastic participants, and it brings me great joy to see people chatting and enjoying the music on summer nights. Additionally, my weekday Daily Dig Talk drew an attendance of approximately 25 visitors, who actively participated and posed intriguing questions. I take pride in creating an enriching museum experience for these individuals, making the objects memorable during their visit.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.