Post-secondary students discover what it’s like to work in an art gallery

August 29, 2019

This summer, the MacLaren Art Centre welcomed a talented group of interns, including Robin Marshall (Programme Assistant), Adrienne Mesto (Collections Assistant) and Daria Melnikov (Exhibitions Assistant).

Before departing, we asked them to share some experiences from their summer with us. Here, in their own words, is our 2019 class of interns!

From left: Robin Marshall, Adrienne Mesto and Daria Melnikov

Robin Marshall
YCW Programme Assistant

Working at the MacLaren was a one-of-a-kind opportunity that gave me insight into the inner workings of an art gallery. While pursuing my degree in Art History at the University of Ottawa, I’ve had my eyes set on work in the museum sector. I was particularly drawn to the MacLaren’s Education Department because I am interested in finding ways to animate art and history for the public. The Programme Assistant role gave me the chance to pursue my passion and discover what a potential career in the field would look like.

This summer, I worked on a variety of tasks around the Gallery in connection to programming and education. In addition to delivering engaging tours for school groups, camps and the public, I helped develop scripts for exhibition tours and applied my creative skills to develop flyers for a variety of programmes. I was also able to provide tours in French, which greatly improved the Gallery’s accessibility towards the Francophone community.

During my internship, I had the opportunity to take part in the MacLaren’s Ambassador Programme, which delivers community-based art activities at summer festivals around Simcoe County. It was a great experience to take part in local events, meet new people and promote creativity among youth. I also appreciated connecting with members of the community and learning their interests.

This was an unforgettable experience and I am forever grateful!  Thank you for a wonderful summer!


Adrienne Mesto
Collections Assistant

This summer, I completed an internship at the MacLaren as part of the Museum and Gallery Studies programme at Georgian College. My summer Collections Assistant role at the MacLaren gave me a chance to apply the lessons I’ve learned in my studies to an authentic gallery space. I gained valuable knowledge of several departments, developed transferrable skills and learned a lot about myself. The experience also allowed me to discover new strengths and interests within the field that I never knew I had. Working in the Framing Department, for example, made me more confident in myself and my abilities.

As someone who enjoys working with museum collections, I was especially drawn to the MacLaren’s diverse collection of Canadian art. It was significant to be able to handle and prepare important artwork for exhibitions. From prepping gallery walls, to hanging artwork and setting up complicated technology, my time at the MacLaren was an invaluable learning experience. The summer exhibition opening was really special for me because I felt proud of the work that I, and the other staff members, had put in. It was also great to be able to experience the opening reception with the exhibiting artists, staff and members of the community.


Daria Melnikov
YCW Exhibitions Assistant

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern as an Exhibitions Assistant at the MacLaren. The Senior Curator was an amazing supervisor. She was keen to support my learning and ensured that I had some agency over my work. The balance between fulfilling regular duties and pursuing personal projects kept me motivated all summer. I was excited to come to work each day!

The other staff members were just as welcoming and supportive. Interns are encouraged to participate in staff meetings and have the opportunity to gain behind-the-scenes knowledge in almost every department. My role involved helping to install artwork, conduct research for exhibitions and interact with visitors. I also helped with the storage and database management of the MacLaren’s Sovfoto Archive and was given the opportunity to co-curate an upcoming exhibition called Sovfoto 20/20. This work has given me a gratifying sense of stewardship that I hope to carry forward in my career.

Since completing my internship, I have gained a stronger understanding of where I want to be, both professionally and academically. I am starting a Master’s in Art History at Queen’s University this fall and will remember this work experience as a valuable stepping stone towards a career in the field. The MacLaren has one of the best workplace cultures I have ever encountered and I feel honoured to have been a part of this amazing team!

Internships at the MacLaren provide meaningful career direction for students interested in non-profit museum and gallery management. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests, build new skills and gain first-hand experience in the field. The MacLaren extends its grateful thanks to these three women for lending their talents, creativity and amazing team spirit to the Gallery this summer. Many thanks also to Georgian College’s Museum and Gallery Studies programme and to Canadian Heritage’s Young Canada Works programme for their support.