Student Interns Gain Museum Experience, Explore Passions


When the exhibition “Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising” opened at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College this spring, it was the culmination of a years-long collaboration between Pomona College and Hiroshima City University in Japan exploring the cultural, political and social impacts of the United States’ World War II bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the same time, it was also the fruit of the labor of five Pomona student interns that comprised the programming cohort for the exhibition.

The students in the cohort ranged from a first year student to seniors, and included two art history majors, a politics major, a computer science major and one undecided student. They contributed to the show by conducting research, writing the wall text, leading tours, supporting the three Japanese artists during their week-long visit, and conceiving of and putting on programming related to the exhibition.

“Rich student engagement drove this project from the beginning, and this cohort’s creative engagement epitomized the vision of the Benton Museum to activate art and exhibitions for our communities,” says Benton Museum senior curator Rebecca McGrew ’85, who curated the show and oversaw the cohort.

Meet each of the students in the cohort and read about their experiences working on this show.

Sam Chan ’22

Sam Chan ’22, an art history major, first started working at the Benton Museum their sophomore year. As an international student from Hong Kong, Chan was particularly interested in this exhibition. “I’ve never really seen a lot of cross collaboration between an East Asian country and the U.S.,” they say. “The connections that the Benton was able to draw to form these global webs in terms of sociopolitical and environmental conflicts really intrigued me.”

After graduation, Chan hopes to work at a museum, perhaps doing editorial work interviewing artists and writing about their artwork. “Working at the Benton has been a really great opportunity for me to explore different career paths within a museum,” Chan says. “I’ve been able to see the inner workings of an institution, and that’s been very helpful in terms of leading me to different opportunities.”

Vivian Kuo ’23

Kuo ’23, also an art history major, began working at the Benton a year ago as a curatorial research intern for the Fred Eversley exhibition. Kuo, who is from Taiwan, was drawn to this exhibition because she has a deep affinity for Japanese art. “It’s really empowering to see Asian art in a Western space,” she says.

Working on this exhibition’s curatorial research process allowed her to learn how to work with artists. She found great satisfaction when the exhibition was first installed and also when it opened and she was able to witness her friends’ reactions to the art. The exhibition provided her a unique opportunity to interact with her peers over her area of study.

Madeleine Mount-Cors ’23

Madeleine Mount-Cors ’23, a politics major, says, “Art is inherently political.” Mount-Cors first started working at the Benton as a sophomore when she took a border art seminar with Assistant Professor of Art History Rosalia Romero. As part of the course, she assisted with a photography show at the museum. After that, she was eager to continue working at the museum. “It’s very interdisciplinary,” she says. “Museum programming creates a sense of urgency surrounding a topic.”

Being a part of the exhibition gave Mount-Cors not only professional experience but also taught her to be grateful. A major theme of the show is “everything is ephemeral, nothing is really permanent,” she says.

Max Podell ’24

Max Podell ’24, a computer science major, transferred to Pomona this past fall. When he arrived, he began looking for ways to get connected and saw that the Benton Museum was hiring. “Although my major is computer science, I love art history. I could have been an art history major,” he says. “Just because you’re focusing on one thing doesn’t mean that you cant explore other passions.”

Meeting the artists from Japan was a highlight for Podell. “Its not very often that you get to see a piece of art and then meet the artists afterwards and talk to them about it,” he says.

Max Uehara ’25

Max Uehara ’25 is considering double majoring in psychological science along with English or philosophy. As the child of a Japanese father, they felt drawn to this exhibition. “It was helpful to talk with the artists as people who are very attuned with their identities as well, especially within the frame of themes of inheritance and physical transformation that we inherit from our parents and the ways we change genetically, culturally and behaviorally,” they say.

Both of Uehara’s parents are artists, but without being able to take on art as a third major, they appreciate the opportunities that interning at the Benton has afforded them to expand their artistic interests, not only academically but in a professional environment as well.

Major support for this exhibition is provided by the Estate of Judith Ann Cion ’65. The research was supported by EnviroLab Asia and the Henry Luce Foundation. “Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising” closes on June 26. Admission is free and open to the public.