Rebecca Arango ’21 and Renee Chen ’21, 2019 Sama Mundlay ’20 American Cities Internship with the Field Museum, Chicago, IL

Field Museum

This story was originally published in Wellesley's Daily Shot on August 6, 2019.

This week’s Dear Wellesley postcard comes from Rebecca Arango ’21 and Renee Chen ’21, who write to us from Chicago’s Field Museum. They found their internship through Wellesley Career Education’s Sama Mundlay ’20 American Cities program. 

The Sama Mundlay ’20 American Cities Program allows Wellesley students to experience the diversity of regions, communities, and cultures within the U.S. Through identified placements in major cities, students’ work experiences directly engage with the particular social, economic, and/or cultural realities of their urban environment. Internships at private, public, and nonprofit organizations give students the opportunity to gain professional experience, create networks for future employment, and cultivate relationships with diverse teams. Sama Mundlay was a member of the Class of 2020 and an International Relations major at Wellesley College with a concentration in History.

Dear Wellesley,

Hello from Chicago! It’s Renee and Rebecca, writing from the Field Museum. We are incredibly thrilled to be interning at one of the largest natural history museums in the world, with over 40 million specimens housed in-building. Because we’re working in exhibition development, we’ve been able to see how every display in the museum has been pitched, planned, developed, and produced. It’s exhilarating to see how our work—whether it be label writing, research, or cataloging—influences an exhibit. For example, Renee has written labels to be displayed in the Traveling the Pacific hall in December 2019, while Rebecca has helped brainstorm a brand-new (and confidential!) exhibit opening in 2021.

The best part about working in the museum is seeing the multifaceted responsibilities developers take on. We are constantly surprised by how much exhibition development has to offer. Rebecca (media arts and sciences) is deeply interested in the artistic aspect of exhibition development’s design and production. Renee (anthropology/political science) is fascinated with the newly instituted “co-curation,” in which relevant ethnic/cultural communities are creating exhibits along with curators and developers.

New exhibits take years and millions of dollars to develop, but it is not uncommon to have urgent deadlines due to all the moving pieces. Working on multiple ongoing projects has pushed us to become adaptive, composed professionals. Being a developer means that you’re up for anything, whether it be reviewing architectural plans or traveling to speak with Native communities about artifact curation.

Our work in the Field Museum has boosted our appreciation for museums. Our favorite memories of the summer include visiting the Shedd Aquarium and the Chicago Institute of Art. Chicagoans are truly spoiled when it comes to excellent museums, and we are fortunate to get a taste of the high life this summer! When we’re not visiting as many museums as we can (working at the FM means free admission, so you can’t blame us), you can find us walking along the Magnificent Mile, taking a water taxi to Navy Pier, and exploring the glamorous South Loop.

As East Coast natives, Chicago is our first taste of the Midwest. We’ve both fallen in love with the Windy City—with deep-dish pizza, Lake Michigan, and, most importantly, the people. The Field Museum is located in the heart of the city, situated prominently on Lake Shore Drive. Given the influx of visitors into the museum, we see new faces every day. The excited families, school groups, and adults—driven by curiosity (or just a love of dinosaurs)—is what makes exhibition work more gratifying than we ever could have imagined. We’re stoked to come back and share this incredible experience!


Rebecca and Renee