(Not So Arrested) Development

Hello! I’m Aubree Penney, a newly graduated English and Religion major. Last year I built the virtual Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery as the CFG summer intern, and this year I’m one of the five Haverford interns in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Museum Studies Internship program.

The internship program involves spending 1.5 days a week learning about the Museum, and 3.5 days a week working in our respective departments. I work in Development with the Major Gifts team. Major Gifts focuses on individuals giving gifts of money during their lifetimes, as opposed to Planned Giving (someone leaving a gift in her will) or giving what we call gifts of works of art (which we call “GOWA’s”). My boss works with the American Decorative Arts and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs (a.k.a. PDP) curatorial departments, so a lot of my day-to-day tasks involve their current acquisitions projects, specifically the Fox and the Grapes dressing table and the Strand collection. My Strand work hasn’t gotten underway yet-I start combing through relevant files tomorrow-so for now, here’s a little info about the Fox and the Grapes!

The Fox and the Grapes Dressing Table
Image from the PMA collection entry

The Fox and the Grapes dressing table has been on loan to the PMA for a number of years.  Its sister piece, the Fox and the Grapes High Chest, was given to the Museum a while back. It was fortuitous that the Museum was able to reunite these gorgeous pieces of eighteenth-century Philadelphia craft, and we’re all hoping to keep them together in their home city. I love that the piece is so decadent, and yet it feature’s Aesop’s fable warning against greed. Plus, the delicate table balances the imposing high chest. I love imagining an eighteenth-century family getting up and using these pieces as they prepare for a Philadelphia day in the cool of a summer morning. My small role in the quest to keep the dressing table at the Museum involves examining past events and correspondence about the acquisition so that plans for the acquisition can reflect what’s already been done.

I also perform smaller tasks like looking up 5 star hotels in Paris (I’m definitely staying at the Mandarin Oriental Paris if I ever get the chance!), helping with check-in at the donor opening of the new family-friendly suite of shows ArtSplash, researching prominent photography buffs from Canada and American painting enthusiasts, and doing a lot of data entry in Raiser’s Edge, a fundraising database. I’m also perfecting my thank you note writing skills and learning how to write like other people.There’s always something going on in my office-Michael Bluth must not be anywhere near the PMA because our Development is anything but arrested!

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