Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

California African American Museum

Spring 2018

Position: Ethnographic Intern
Student: African and African Diaspora Studies Sophomore 

Before I started at California African American Museum (or CAAM) as an ethnographic intern, I was incredibly unsure about how beneficial this experience would be for me. Sure, I’m a Black Studies major, so I would learn about Black culture in Los Angeles, but the museum aspect of the work had me a bit troubled. I have never been an art appreciator or creator. The inherent classism in the United States art community has always been off putting for me, but I was ready to give CAAM my best shot. Looking back at it now, I am so very glad that I went into this experience with an open mind.

On my first day, I was shown around the museum, allowed to walk through the galleries and observe on my own, and eventually made my way into the back offices where I met with Chelo, my supervisor. She asked me what I wanted to get out of my experience at CAAM, she asked about my family and my goals, my studies, and I fell right into place at CAAM.

For the next four months I spent my time interacting with the most amazing coworkers that I could have asked for. From Sybil, a visual artist who always has the brightest smile on her face and never has a negative thing to say about anything, even her sometimes five to six hour commute, to Tyree, the History Curator who is the definition of a dream boss, someone who will make you feel your worth with every interaction that you have with him. These are the people who make CAAM what it is, an institution that brings light and creativity to people from all walks of life.


As a gallery attendant, which was my primary position, you will get to engage with visitors on a daily basis. Because the museum is a state museum, admission is free. This allows people from all classes to become enriched by the exhibitions at CAAM. Sometimes the museum functions as a place for the houseless community to get a drink of water, use a clean restroom, walk through the galleries, and take a step out of what can too often be an incredibly hectic life. Other times the museum hosts members of the legislature or world renowned artists. Everyone interacting in a space that makes class a little bit less important.

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    University of Texas at Austin
    FAC 18
    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508