By Jessica Lee
Staring at the dull glow of her computer screen, Annie Wasserman ’13 typed away, translating sentence after sentence from French to English, stopping only when she had finished all seven pages.
Wasserman worked as a French, Italian, and Spanish translator at the Risk Management Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, translating emails and documents for and from her supervisor to museum directors and officials in other countries.
“Most people don’t realize that behind every exhibition on the walls are months of negotiations with the lenders,” Assistant Director of Risk Management at LACMA Renee Montgomery said. “So far, Annie has translated insurance contract terms and documents for museums in Fabre, Florence, and Quebec. Her internship has been amazingly helpful to us and an excellent experience for her.”
Wasseman translated documents in three languages to extract the intricacies of the language.
“Each [language] has unique terms and nuances that I sometimes can’t fully express in English,” Wasserman said. “It’s complex and really difficult; you can completely butcher what the other person is trying to say if you don’t come up with the exact translation or verbal representation.”
Wasserman was at a dinner with family friends when a parent, who worked in the Risk Management Department, commented on her aptitude in languages and asked her to help translate a document. Since then, Wasserman translated a file here and there until she was offered an intern position last January. During the summer, three days a week, Wasserman would drive down to UCLA for her morning German classes, and then rush over to LACMA just minutes before afternoon traffic.
In June, Wasserman translated an Italian file that involved an upcoming exhibit set to feature the artwork and legacy of the famous 17th century artist Caravaggio.
“It was particularly exciting for me to work on that document because last year, in my directed studies Italian class, we spent a few weeks learning about Caravaggio,” Wasserman said.
In addition to translating, Wasserman compiled damage reports and helped create methods of efficient protection. Wasserman used Excel to see on which days and in which exhibits the artwork was damaged or tampered with by visitors. She would then decide when to employ more security. Wasserman also kept close track of climate changes, making sure that the artwork remained unaffected by excessive heat.
Wasserman hopes to consider translating next year.