Beacon News

Beacon Alum Blazes New Trail as Smithsonian Accessibility Intern

| Alumni News

Lindsey Flax now knows more than ever that Google is no joke.

With her looming graduation from Beacon College in May, Flax pondered what she would do during the summer and beyond.

As a psychology major who minored in studio arts — with an emphasis on diverse learning strategies and art integration-based education practices — she yearned to work in museum education. Needing either a first career option or additional valuable internship experience, Flax turned to Google, typed the words “accessibility,” “sculpture,” and “internships,” crossed her fingers, and clicked.

The search results materialized and the then unfamiliar Smithsonian Katzenberger Art History Internship stood out. Funded by the Katzenberger Foundation, the competitive need-based program for students majoring in art history or a related discipline provides six undergraduates summer internships. Participants conduct research and collections projects at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

When Flax saw the Katzenberger program “I was like the power of Google is real.” The program, she added, “was created with all the requirements [she was looking for]. I felt like I was a perfect match. I just went for it and applied. I got a call from them [one day] after class, and yeah, it’s great.”

Each of the six Katzenberger interns work on specific projects involving art history, research, and/or museum education at various Smithsonian Institution museums and centers. They put in 40-hour weeks, and sometimes pull weekend duty. They receive a $6,000 stipend.

Lindsey Flax at HirshhornLindsey left her home in Atlanta for her assignment that began June 4 is at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Her project: the All Access Public Engagement project. Her focus is accessibility.

“I always wanted to work in the art field — I just didn’t know where — but I grew up going to museums quite a lot and felt each experience was different and I really wanted to try to find a way to bring my experience of learning disabilities to the museum population,” Flax said.

Each day, she primarily focuses on preparing and writing a summer camp curriculum with her mentor aimed at kids with learning disabilities and cognitive issues.

Additionally, she also supports the Smithsonian All Access Summer Camp. The two-week program for students ages 14-20 with cognitive disabilities in the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area allows participants to explore personal interests at the cornucopia of Smithsonian museums, document their experiences using digital recording devices, compile and edit digital media, and create a short documentary.

Flax said “learning about curriculum and writing for the museum and summer programming has been the primary source of what I’ve been doing and it’s been very transformative.”

And she’s performed admirably, according to her supervisor.

“We’ve been happy to have Lindsey work with us this summer. She’s very hardworking and determined,” said Tiffany McGettigan, Youth and Family Programs Manager with the Smithsonian Institution. For the All Access Camp she said, “Lindsey provided key support for studio arts activities, devising activities exploring new artistic mediums. She’s passionate about youth accessibility, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

And that’s something Flax will need ponder again once her Smithsonian internship ends August 10. Still, Flax hopes for a happy conclusion. Yet, she reckons that whether her path lies at the Smithsonian or elsewhere, the apprenticeship has proven valuable.

“I know these [Smithsonian] people well and got my foot in the door, and that was the whole goal of my internship, so that has successfully surpassed my goals and expectations of my time here,” Flax said. “So, yes, I would be sad [if I’m not offered a full-time job] because I don’t want to leave, but I know things are coming because of the skills I’ve learned here.”