April 11, 2019 by Felicia Swartzenberg
Meet Hana Halilaj, third-year School of Individualized Study student
Hana Halilaj, a third-year School of Individualized Study student.
Hana Halilaj, a fourth-year School of Individualized Study major from Runik, Kosovo, was accepted as an intern at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City—an opportunity that students across the country and world dream of. Halilaj, who’s concentration for her degree is museum studies and management, happily relocated to New York City to complete an internship for MoMA’s International Program department, which is dedicated to connecting MoMA with an international network of artists, scholars and institutions. She started her internship in January 2019 and will compete her work this month.
Halilaj began her journey as a student at the RIT Kosovo campus. In 2018, she was selected as a Global Scholar and was invited to study at RIT’s main campus in Rochester. There, she was able to immerse herself in the museum studies program and gain more experience and knowledge about the art field she is interested in. Now, she is focused on getting as much experience working with contemporary and modern art before she graduates.
Question: What was your reaction when you found out you got an internship at the Museum of Modern Art?
Answer: When I was submitting my application for the internship, MoMA had an exhibition titled “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980” on view. While researching more about the exhibition, which included a model of the National Library of Kosovo, I fortuitously learned about their International Program. I believe that choosing a department that best fits your background is one of the most important decisions. When I got the offer from the Museum of Modern Art, specifically from the International Program, I was over the moon. I was looking forward to a transcendent experience, and this internship has exceeded my expectations. I have been gaining new knowledge every day, learning about many aspects of a modern art museum, connecting to the world of art and artists and meeting with wonderful, inspiring people on a daily basis. My classes at RIT significantly increased my knowledge of the history and theory of contemporary and modern art, and now this internship has complemented my professional and academic experience with a firsthand look at a future career dedicated to the development of Kosovo's culture and arts.
Question: What sort of responsibilities are you in charge of as part of your internship?
Answer: I assist with the production of online content for the post website - MoMA’s online resource devoted to art and the history of modernism in a global context. Additionally, I support logistics for the Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) internal meetings. C-MAP is a cross-departmental, internal research program at MoMA which focuses on modern and contemporary art produced in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. I have also been assisting with the preparation of the conference that will mark the 10th anniversary of the C-MAP program.
Question: How would you describe your typical work day?
Answer: I start at 9:30 a.m. and organize my day depending on the projects I am working on, so there are no typical days. However, every Tuesday, all the interns attend planned activities around the museum. These activities have provided us with unique insights about processes and tasks performed in different departments of the museum. We attended presentations from museum staff in different departments, visited MoMA’s Frame Shop, did a curator-led walkthrough of the “New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century” and “The Value of Good Design exhibitions,” and met with Glenn Lowry, the museum’s director, to discuss the museum’s vision and decision-making processes. These activities also allowed the interns to spend more time together and create personal and professional connections.
Question: What skills or classes do you think helped you during your internship?
Answer: At RIT’s main campus I have been taking museum studies classes for a full academic year. Being a School of Individualized Study student allowed me to enroll in the classes I was most interested in, and I loved every class. My professors helped me grow professionally, broaden my knowledge and improve my critical thinking skills. My previous work in Kosovo’s art scene also helped me consider different contexts and cultures in art history.
Question: What is your favorite part about your internship at the MoMA?
Answer: The people I have met and the relationships I have developed have made this an amazing experience. I get to work closely with an exceptional group of people on my team. Their professionalism, supervision and guidance has made every day at the museum a congenial environment and helped me gain lifelong learning skills. MoMA’s project of expanding and reimagining the presentation of modern and contemporary art will open to the public in October 2019, and that has made this term a really exciting and special period to be there.
Question: What advice would you give to other museum studies students who want to apply to a big museum like MoMA, but may be intimidated because it’s so competitive?
Answer: I would give the same advice that a professor gave me; love what you do, be honest in your work, and let the others see the real you. MoMA is anything but intimidating, and once you are here, you will engage in engrossing projects and network with amazing people. Getting feedback from my professors has been incredibly developmental and motivating. I am so grateful to have had the mentorship of my professors at RIT. Their support and encouragement were crucial in helping me develop confidence and think big.
Question: What are your plans for after you complete your internship at MoMA?
Answer: After the internship I am going to Kosovo for a short visit and then returning to New York City as a Curatorial Intern at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, an arts organization. I am really looking forward to another transcendent experience before my graduation next year.