Today I’m going to talk about an very important part of our internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection: giving talks. Every month, each intern is required to give a designated number of talks to visitors as a component of the services that the museum offer. The talks include 10-minute talks, which we can select a piece of work that we like in the collection, Peggy talks, a 30-minute talk on Peggy Guggenheim’s life, 15-minute talk on one of our temporary exhibition, “1948: The Biennale of Peggy Guggenheim”, and another 30-minute talk on “Josef Albers in Mexico”, another temporary exhibition. The preparation of these talks require extensive research on the artists, the works in the collection, and the museum’s history. In order to make the talks more interactive and appealing, we would also print out relevant images in a folder that serve as visual clues both for ourselves and the listeners as well.
Ten minutes before our talks, we would announce in the galleries and gardens so that the visitors are aware of this resource to aid their museum experience. At first, doing talks seems a bit intimidating, especially for those who are very shy and not used to do public speaking. However, we improve every time by listening to the talks by our fellow interns and by gradually learning more about the collection. The applauses that groups of visitors give after our talks also serve as a great encouragement.
My first talk was at the beginning of June, when I did a painting called the Room by the American painter William Baziotes. The work was in a bad location and I was not confident at all that anyone would come and hear my talk. I announced in the galleries, and only an American couple whose son went to Michigan stayed when I started. But to my surprise, when I finished my talk and looked up, I had a whole room of listeners, all looking interested and engaged. I got a big applause at the end, and even when I was at the entrance later in the day, some of my audience come to me personally and thanked me for my talk. That was my first experience, but it was the most memorable one, and I grew more confident in speaking publicly in my subsequent talks.
I can’t believe that time passes by so quickly. Tomorrow, I will be doing my 13th, and also my second last talk during my internship on “Josef Albers in Mexico”. I have noticed how the opportunities to give these talks in the museum have really transformed my ability to conduct academic research and to communicate with a large audience in an interactive manner.