Getty internship a ‘real win’ for Kimiko Adler ’23

Kimiko Adler ’23 poses for a photo by a flowering bush on campus
August 18, 2021

Kimiko Adler’s interest in Ancient Rome traces back to fourth grade, sparked when she discovered and devoured her first “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” novel.

Now a junior at CMC, Adler ’23 is pursuing her interest in ancient stories and artifacts as a dual major in Classical Studies and Government, with a focus on foreign policy. This summer, she got the chance to further explore the past, landing a Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship in the Public Programs Department of the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Villa, which houses Greek and Roman antiquities.

“To my knowledge, Kimi is the first CMC student to hold an internship at the Getty Villa,” said CMC Prof. Shane Bjornlie, who chairs the College’s Classical Studies department. “This is a real win not only for Kimi, but also for the humanities at CMC—and for CMC as an institution. The Getty Villa retains the most impressive endowment of any museum in the world.”

With the goal “to diversify the staff of museums and visual arts organizations to better reflect the communities they serve,” the Getty’s competitive internship program for the visual arts is the largest of its kind in the U.S. For the last 30 years, the program has introduced college students from diverse backgrounds to careers in the arts by placing them with organizations that span L.A. County.

Adler, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, is eager to share her passion for the Classics with a diverse audience. “I want to be part of bringing these cultures and languages to new communities,” she said. “I know that studying the Classics has helped me understand my own racial experience as a mixed-race person. I want to be part of deconstructing the elite notions that have supported the Classics for so long, because honestly, studying the Classics has helped me understand my own identity and my own space in the world.”

Adler spent her childhood cultivating her curiosity at the Getty Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, even spending a birthday at the Natural History Museum’s Egyptian exhibit. Connecting what she discovered at her local museums with her love of Richard Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” and “Kane Chronicles” series eventually led her to take Latin classes in high school.

“My favorite part was when we were looking at the historical context of the Augustan Age, the golden age of Roman literature, and looking at the implications and the themes that were recurring,” she said.

But it wasn’t until she arrived at CMC and took Prof. Bjornlie’s course, “Bread and Circuses: The Politics of Roman Private Life,” that she felt a deeper understanding of the ancient Romans.

“That was a monumental shift in my perspective,” she said.

So passionate is Adler about the intersection between international politics and ancient art, that she won funding from the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies to explore the topic in a podcast that she co-hosts with Desmond Mantle ’23, “History for the Taking,” which is devoted to “the elusive justice of artifact repatriation.”

Kimiko Adler '23 wearing a CMC maroon face mask at the Getty Villa
Kimiko Adler ’23 at the Getty Villa

It was Bjornlie, Adler’s academic adviser, who suggested she apply for the Getty internship.
As Public Programs Intern at the Getty Villa, Adler planned the Villa’s annual College Week, researching speaker and activity ideas, and produced “Fantastic Journeys,” a three-part video series geared toward virtually engaging younger audiences with the Getty’s collection.

“The internship has been a wonderful and supportive experience,” Adler said. She also noted that her supervisor and other Getty staff made sure she was using “this valuable time to network with other museum professionals including curators, educators, and conservators, and people who inspire me such as Jim Cuno, the President and CEO of the entire Getty, and Joan Weinstein, the head of the Getty Foundation.”

Overall, the experience has helped Adler clarify her career goals. After graduating, she plans to pursue a JD with the hopes of becoming a general counsel at a cultural institution like the Getty, specializing in artifact repatriation/art reparation law.

“I can’t imagine myself in a career that doesn’t combine my interests of art and law,” Adler said.

Anne Bergman

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