Senior Shay Reynolds Gains Experience at William King Art Museum


William King Museum of Art

E&H Senior Shay Reynolds is currently working as an intern at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia.

Museum studies might not be what most people think of when they think about majoring in art, but for Studio Art major Shay Reynolds, it is their passion. Reynolds, a senior at Emory & Henry College, is currently gaining work experience as an intern at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia.

Reynolds has always loved art, but it wasn’t until they volunteered in the MCA Art Gallery their freshman year at E&H that they discovered their interest in exhibition work.

“I fell in love with it,” they said. “I realized that it combined so many things that I was passionate about. Art, obviously, but learning about cultures, learning how other people’s mind’s work.”

When the opportunity for an internship at William King was offered to Reynolds, they were quick to accept. Reynolds and two of their classmates work together to complete a variety of tasks alongside the museum’s curators.

“We’ve been learning a lot about what it means to curate, what it means to be a part of this museum world. We have a lot of discussions about what some of the issues in the museum world are right now, and what they are going to be,” Reynolds explained.

Reynolds enjoys almost every aspect of the job, and the tasks they do varies greatly depending on what exhibits the museum is showcasing and what work needs to be done.

“It definitely depends on the day and on the week. On a normal week we’re working on inputting books into their new library database, or overseeing some of their meetings and learning about condition reports, loan agreements, inventory sheets,” Reynolds said. “Basically, all of the tiny little things you wouldn’t think about as a patron of a museum.”

Even though the internship is fun for Reynolds, they admit it is a big time commitment, especially while also being a full time college student.

“I have 120 hours I need to complete for the internship. I’m working over there for 10 hours a week, sometimes more, and then on top of that I’m doing projects and essays and tests for all these other classes. So it is somewhat hard to balance, especially when you’re so passionate about the internship,” they said. “Like, I don’t really want to do my history homework, I want to focus on my researching!”

Reynolds has discovered a love for researching while working at William King, which they weren’t expecting, but says it has been one of their favorite aspects of the internship.

“I don’t even like researching typically, but the things that we get to research are really interesting. We get to research different artists and different topics. Researching and finding out different things and different artists that can vicariously influence my personal artwork has been really cool,” they said.

One of the biggest benefits for Reynolds in taking on this internship has been narrowing down their focus within museum studies, and further solidifying what they want to do professionally within the field in the future.

“Like, I knew I wanted to go somewhere within the museum world, but I didn’t know exactly which position I wanted, because there are so many. Before, I had only had experience with the preparatory work, setting up the installations and things like that” they said. “So, being able to intern with William King has taught me that I really am passionate about contemporary curating, because it just combines everything that I am passionate about.”

Reynolds will be graduating from E&H this spring and has plans to attend graduate school to continue their education in Museum Studies, or a related field, and hopes to be able to work in more museums while completing that degree.

As for the near future, on Wednesday, April 21 at 6:00 p.m. Reynolds will be presenting their museum studies final project as a part of E&H’s ampersand week via Zoom.