While many college students had last-minute changes of plans to their summer jobs or internships because of the coronavirus pandemic, Aidan Miles-Jamison not only survived, but he thrived. The rising sophomore, who double-majors in art history and piano performance, was able to hang onto his summer internship at the Berman Museum in Anniston, Alabama. On top of that, as a volunteer collections assistant, Aidan rediscovered long-forgotten sculpture while cataloging artwork in the collection and proposed future exhibitions.
The Berman Museum – founded by an Anniston native and his French wife who spied for the Allies during World War II – holds collections of European paintings and sculptures, weapons and artifacts of military history, and Asian art.
“The first month was really exciting and also boring,” Miles-Jamison said, “I was spending many hours staring at bronzes, cataloging their numbers and then entering them into [the museum’s cataloging] system. Yet, through this process, I became inspired by the work I was handling.” Works of art that, in major art museums, he would normally not be allowed to touch, as collections assistant, he was able to engage with them up-close and study over long periods. And the time he spent researching and thinking about the art paid off.
“Through these long days of cataloging, I was able to learn more about art history just through basic research. When I would present [my findings] to the curator of the museum she was delighted.” For example, Miles-Jamison rediscovered a foot-high bronze statue in the museum’s collection that had been forgotten because it had been cataloged in a different system. It happened to be from the workshop of a 16th-century sculptor named Severo Calzetta da Ravenna, an artist whose works are collected by international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Miles-Jamison’s dedication and consistency in his work, he said, “led to [the curator] asking me to help plan and research shows.”
Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, non-essential workers for the city of Anniston were sent home at the end of July, and Miles-Jamison was forced to finish his internship working from home, away from the artworks. “I don’t think any of my shows will come to fruition.” he wrote a few weeks ago, “But I am very grateful to have had the position this past summer.”
Then this fall, Miles-Jamison got great news. He found out that the museum is planning an exhibition for 2021-22 around one of his ideas: artworks in the collection having to do with the French Revolution and Napoleon’s subsequent reign. He said, “I came up with the idea for the show when I was cataloging all of their pieces of art on canvas and I was shocked by how many different portraits and pieces they had from this time. So, I showed the curator my work and she thought it would be a great idea to put the artwork together in combination with the museum’s war artifacts from that time.”
For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in art history and studio art, visit our Degree Programs page.