London Museum Internships Confirm Balzer's Art, History Passion
By Megan Perkins ’18
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Last summer, senior history major Langley Balzer spent the summer in London, fulfilling her Museum Studies minor internship requirement. Balzer applied to various openings in London through the international job placement website, Global Experiences. Much to her surprise, both the historic Benjamin Franklin House and West African art gallery, Aabru Art, offered Balzer a summer position. Unable to choose between these two unique experiences, Balzer decided to divide her two months in London between them, spending three days of the week at Benjamin Franklin House and the other two at Aabru Art.
“I love history and I love museums but the art world is also something I have always been enchanted by. So, in order to figure out which one I wanted to pursue, I did both,” says Balzer.
The Benjamin Franklin House is the only remaining residence of Revolutionary War mediator Benjamin Franklin, who spent his time there easing hostile relations between Britain and America. As a history major, Balzer said she was intrigued by the museum’s historical Georgian architecture and the delicate conservation of the home. While there, Balzer worked as a special projects intern, leading architectural tours, assisting with school group education days and working in the museum’s gift shop. She also spent time creating introductions and conclusions for the museum’s Historical Experiences drama program—featuring cutting-edge performances that immerse the guests in Franklin’s world—and developing new marketing initiatives.
The Aabru Art gallery was started by avid art collector Anshu Bahanda to give prominent West African artists a platform in London. Aabru’s efforts have transformed London’s art scene, providing a space for African artists to be recognized. For the past three years, Aabru Art has held its annual event, Transcending Boundaries, which continues to be the largest selling modern and contemporary West African art show in London. Bahanda focuses on sourcing, marketing, distributing and selling West African contemporary art to the international buyer, and the opportunity to work intimately with Bahanda as the only intern at the firm enticed Balzer to apply.
“The best thing about this company is their close-knit relationships with their artists,” said Balzer. While at Aabru, Balzer worked directly with these artists, compiling all of the press each received for their work.
Balzer also kept Aabru’s website up to date, organized Aabru’s database, assisted with social media marketing, conducted content research for future business decisions, PR analysis, and directly oversaw the transportation and distribution of the art. Balzer said her favorite experience in London was being trusted with the responsibility of “making sure that the proper contracts were signed and delivered at each location, and being the face of Aabru Art as we picked up, delivered, and mounted the art.”
Balzer’s London internship experiences have furthered her interest in and passion for both art and history.
“I felt extreme amounts of belonging and purpose as I worked in both fields this summer,” said Balzer. She considers her time abroad to be one of the most valuable experiences of her collegiate career. “I learned how to make new friends, build professional relationships, take risks, and live life for God while pursuing my passions,” says Balzer. Balzer encourages all students interested in international internships to step out of their comfort zones and experience the personal growth these opportunities have to offer.