Inside the Museum Profession

Yvonne Osei (middle) with two guest conservators, in front of artwork undergoing a conservation study.

Posted by Sam Fox School Staff December 15, 2015


Intensive. Impactful. Rewarding.

That's how Yvonne Osei described her experience as the inaugural recipient of the Kemper Art Museum's Internship to Promote and Encourage Diversity in the Museum Profession.

Offered every summer, the paid internship program seeks to give diverse students an opportunity to gain access to and experience the museum profession. The program is made possible by a grant from the University's Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

"In the United States the museum field is characterized by a lack of diversity and ethnicity, which we are trying to address in order to create a more multicultural environment," said Sabine Eckmann, William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator.

Interns gain exposure to nearly every aspect of the Museum, from security protocol to community education programs to exhibition and collection management.

A native of Ghana and second-year MFA student, Osei sees a connection between the disregard for art education and a negative impact on the Ghanaian economy, particularly in tourism. She plans to start an organization to promote art education in her home country.

"Although my vision goes beyond pursuing a particular career in the museum field, the skills and professionalism I gained during my time at the Kemper Art Museum will contribute to actualizing my goals for Ghana," she said.

Alicia Ajayi's interest in curating was piqued during a trip to the Venice Architecture Biennale. "I became increasingly motivated to incorporate curating methodologies into my own practice and wanted to learn more about museum professions in general," she said.

After graduating from WashU with dual master's degrees in architecture and social work last May, Ajayi served as the second intern in the Museum's program.

"The internship provided me with an inside look into how a museum functions, which is incredibly valuable for someone who does not have a formal art background," Ajayi said. She also had opportunities to engage with issues more narrowly focused on curating, including social issues explored in the art world and the role of the curator.

Read first-person accounts of Osei and Ajayi's internship experiences in the Museum's Palette Scrapings blog. Students interested in the internship should visit for more information.