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Apply Now! M.LiT at VMFA is Enlightening Program for Teens

Before attending the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Museum Leaders in Training program 17-year-old Trinity Smith hadn’t zeroed in on a career. Now, thanks to M.LiT, she has.

“This program makes me want to work there when I get older,” she says of VMFA. “I don’t want to just plan events. I want to interview people and teach there. All of this has influenced me to become an exhibition designer one day and an event planner, too.”

Admittedly, art was on Smith’s mind. The Henrico High School student is in the Center for the Arts program, focusing on visual art. “I was interested in art education before I was in this program,” she says. “I applied, not knowing what I was getting into, and I have no regrets.”

The competitive M.LiT program started in 2010, the year of the museum’s reopening after adding the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing. The 12-week career-development and leadership-training program for teens serves students in grades 8 through 12 throughout the metro Richmond area.

During the 12-weeek M.LiT program at VMFA, teens attend weekly sessions which include lectures exploring the various approaches to archiving across museum departments and hands-on workshops illustrating the strategies professionals use when documenting and storing art and other media for preservation in a collection.

“Students explore museum careers and hopefully think of the museum as a possible career choice,” says Lulan Yu, education programs manager. “It shows them the many different roles people can play.”

Students are accepted based on a variety of factors that include artistic merit, writing abilities and qualifying experience. “We typically have twenty-five students in the program,” Yu says.

In addition to exploring museum careers, students get the chance to serve as advisors in developing other teen programs at VMFA. “They get to meet museum professionals and other community professionals,” Yu says, noting there are also guest lecturers and mentors.

In the past two years students worked closely with an archivist and the library, studying archival materials. This year they will focus on the interpretation of the museum’s collection and tour development. “Students will write content and record audio for a teen-geared audio tour which will be available on our new audio tour platform,” Yu says.

When Smith attended she learned not only about events, but also the volume of work at VMFA that goes on behind the scenes. “I learned that people’s opinions and views matter,” she says. “I never knew all the hard work that went behind the events they’ve had at VMFA.”

Teens in grade eight through twelve should click here to apply. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on September 14, 2018.

Video still from VMFA’s 2017-2018 MLiT program called Benjamin Wigfall’s Church Hill.



An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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