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Graduate Student’s Curator Internship ‘Worth a Thousand Words’

When first-year graduate student Melanie Hubbard ’11 began her internship with the Archives and Special Collections Department in the William H. Hannon Library, she didn’t quite know what to expect. Stephen Shepherd, director of the English Department’s graduate program, had intended the internship to allow an English graduate student to experience another side of the literary industry, in this case the text as artifact.

“As someone who knew nothing about the history of illustration, much less the world of archives and curating, the undertaking of this project was a bit daunting but very gratifying,” Hubbard said. “The biggest challenge was figuring out how to organize the exhibit. Taking good images of texts is not as easy as it looks. ”

Her primary project was to organize an exhibit. Archives and Special Collections was in the process of presenting a series on the history of the book; illustration was the next subject for exhibition. 

“It was a bit of serendipity for me considering that I have a background in art and photography. And, even though the exhibit was not my original idea, I was given the freedom to decide how it would be presented.” 

Hubbard spent many hours exploring the department’s array of texts and manuscript leaves to find images that conveyed the “story” she wanted the exhibit to tell.  She researched the images, wrote the captions, designed the exhibit layout, and learned how to construct the displays all on her own. 

Cynthia Becht, head of Archives and Special Collections had nothing but praise for Hubbard’s performance. “The exhibit was a grand experiment that has proven amazingly successful,” Becht said. “This is truly a masterpiece effort of one of our students and one of the best exhibits we’ve ever had.”

“Worth a Thousand Words: Book Illustration Throughout the Centuries” will be on display through the spring semester. This exhibit is free to the public, and is located in the Archives and Special Collections gallery on the third floor of the William H. Hannon Library. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

For more information, contact the Department of Archives & Special Collections at Special.Collections@lmu.edu or 310.338-5710.

Posted April 19, 2010