Posts Tagged ‘internship’

I now think postcards are cool.

July 22, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve been here! Today marked the opening of the “Mailed from Maine: Vintage Postcards from the Kennebunks” exhibit. I’ve been working non-stop on this for about three weeks now, and not only do I know a whole lot more about the history of postcards, but I’m proud of how it turned out. Today was also the test run of how it actually looked to visitors, as an ElderHostel group tried out the interactives (and were also most interested in finding the bathrooms…).

The museum director, Tracy Baetz, gave me the chance to lead this exhibit. I chose the postcards; rearranged the gallery; took down the previous exhibit; researched postcard history; wrote labels and designed them; printed them all out and mounted them on mat board and then hung them; chose to enlarge certain graphics; figured out how to hang incredibly heavy double mat board with fishing line (the word here is frustration); built two interactive elements; and wrote the press release to the local newspapers about the exhibit. Today I had an interview with a writer for the Biddeford Journal-Tribune.

The interactives for the exhibit tests visitors’ knowledge of what they learned about postcard history by asking them to inspect a collection of six postcards and put them in order by print date; I developed an answer key that’s interactive in itself, three flip cards with mini- images of each postcard sits beside the timeline. The other interactive allows visitors to “pluck” postcards from a nest (because we’re suggesting that postcards were the early version of Twitter) and try their hand at reading the messages on the back of each postcard. No one panick! These postcards aren’t real – we’ve produced hi-resolution scans of every postcard (front and back) and laminated them. I think this interactive is great because it shows that this exhibit isn’t just about the decoration on the postcards…it’s about what’s on the back, and what people were saying.

The real adventure took place a couple days ago whilst hanging a seven foot strip of vinyl lettering for the title of the exhibit. It seems that it could be simple, but as I’ve learned, it’s not. It looks great after the fact though! To add another of the five senses to the exhibit (instead of just sight), a loop of big band swing music is playing throughout the room and really infuses a sense of fun into the exhibit. I’m loving my job here and appreciate all the experience the staff is giving me!

The vinyl lettering after about an hour of applying it. I chose this font because it mirrors font on the backs of many postcards.

The vinyl lettering after about an hour of applying it. I chose this font because it mirrors font on the backs of many postcards.

Cheers!

Point of Entry: In Pictures!

June 22, 2009

So. In my first post I explained a bit (okay, a lot) about the Point of Entry programs that the development staff is trying to implement. While they’ve been putting them on for a while now, this past Tuesday (June 16) was my first opportunity to see one of these events in action. I grabbed my camera, figuring that if the “picture…thousand words” meme is true, some visuals might be handy.

So without further ado…a photo recap (behind the cut)!

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Show & Tell & Dance at BCM

June 19, 2009

We’re nearly three weeks into the internships, and we’re moving right along with our Engaging Underserved Populations Project. (Update after first official Working Group Meeting later this month/early July) When I’m not slogging through visitor surveys, past studies, zip codes and census stuff, I have found time to get out and have a great time in the museum.

Last Friday, I stuck around from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m for our $1 admission night, sponsored by Target — which might be the greatest company in the world for allowing people to visit museum around the country for reduced prices. We put on a first-time program of Show & Tell. Our collections manager, Jennifer, and I showed Vietnamese Water Puppets, while two of our Teen Ambassadors brought in items of their own.  The star of the show, however, was Nelson, a five-year-old superbaby, who reads Greek mythology and created a Medusa sculpture to show off. When he got tired, Akemi from the Japanese house exhibit came with wax food to show off. It was pretty sweet.

We had plenty of visitors, and the kids loved wearing the special white gloves in order to gently touch the objects. Unfortunately we didn’t have any parents or children interested in signing up to bring in their own objects for another Show & Tell session. We will be trying again in July, and I will be bringing in the brass crab that all of you have seen probably 12 times by now. Any suggestions on how we can do a better job in welcoming parents and kids to participate in Show & Tell? Check out the pictures on Facebook and become a fan!

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Greetings from Palmer: cataloging Alaska’s colonial past

June 18, 2009

I have now been an intern at the Palmer Historical Society’s Colony House Museum for two weeks.  Today was my first time experiencing an earthquake while working at the museum.  Luckily it was a small earthquake (magnitude 3.3).  As I heard all of the objects in the house shaking, there was a moment when I was thinking, “I hope this house, which was built hastily to get new Palmer colonists out of tents before the Alaskan winter, can withstand earthquakes…”  Obviously the museum and I both survived, but I guess earthquakes will definitely fall into the risk management portion of the collections plan I am writing.

Colony House Museum in Palmer, AK

The Colony House Museum interprets a unique part of American and Alaskan history.  In 1935, one of the New Deal reforms resettled families in need of aid to different communities throughout the U.S.  The largest of these projects, called the Matanuska Colony, resettled 204 families from the Midwest to settle the Matanuska Valley, about 40 miles north of Anchorage.  While there were already a few homesteaders in the area, this resettlement program was the beginning of Palmer as a town.  The house, formerly the home of Oscar and Irene Beyland on track 94, was moved to downtown Palmer and is mostly furnished through donations from colonists and “colony kids” (children of colonists now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s) to represent the typical home of the colony between 1935 and 1945.

Gerry and Mary Pat

My basic tasks at the Colony House Museum are collections related: initiating a accessioning scheme, creating a collections plan, teaching the volunteers how to use PastPerfect, etc.  I’ll go into more detail in future posts.

Living Room of Colony House

exhibit space on left, my workspace on the right

A Pox On Both Your Houses!

June 17, 2009

Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, and a little bit worse!

Not really. It’s been a pretty good week so far. I’ve made progress on several of my projects including catalogging, and getting new cases. On Monday Deb and I started taping out the new floorplan.

Rearranging the furniture

(the tape kind of reminds me of a chalk body outline…)

I’ve begun working with that company case[werks] to see if we can come up with an affordable combination of museum quality cases. It’s an interesting experience, maybe a little hum-drum on the surface, but a lot more valuable than I would have thought. I mean, of course someone has to think about the concrete elements of an exhibit, the parts that don’t really change, but I had never thought about how that happens.

In other news, the second summer intern started yesterday. Her name is Brittany and she’s a high school student here in Dillingham. Her position is through the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. Every year, they fund a variety of jobs and internships around the area that provide local high schoolers with valuable work experience. Brittany is 15, a native Alaskan, and, so far at least, a hard worker. Since I’m the only other staff here, I’ve sort of become her defacto supervisor. Who would’ve thought the intern would have an intern? She’s been tearing through the projects Deb and I assign her and I’m starting to worry I’ll be spending more time keeping her busy that I will getting my own projects done. The other thing is, and this is a bit ridiculous, I’m having a hard time remembering what being 15 was like, academically at least. Had I learned how to make bibliographies by then? Was I still working in MLA? My lapse in memory is making it hard to know what to expect from her. Any suggestions? Memories? Things you loved or hated about school at that age? While I’m of course concerned with having a fabulous experience myself, I’d like her to enjoy her time here and come out of it with some real skills and tools for looking to the future.

And now for your new OBJECT OF THE WEEEEEEK.

Small Pox Vaccination Kit(wha?)

Well, yesterday evening I was entering a few last object id cards into PastPerfect when I came across a peculiar thing. And what was that you might ask? SMALL POX, THAT’S WHAT! Well, sort of small pox. This, my friends, is a small pox vaccination kit from before the disease was eradicated in 1979. There are five vials of vaccine, one of which is broken (!) as though it’s been used, and four which still contain a powdery white substance (!!!). It was found right here in Dillingham on Scandanavian Beach, in the later 70s. Currently, I’m trying to figure out just what I’m supposed to do with it. Tomorrow I’m calling the CDC to see if there are any regulations or anything about disposing of it. I’m sure that whatever was/is in those vials is long dead now, if it was ever alive, but still… Kind of spooky stuff.

Eek!

(eek!)

Alaska Bound

June 5, 2009

Well, I have yet to arrive in Alaska, but my departure is quickly approaching. I fly out of Seattle Saturday morning and get in to Dillingham, AK Saturday afternoon. Once I arrive, my cell phone will be virtually useless and I will be a full 4 hours earlier that most of you on the East Coast, practically a world away. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my personal blog “North to the Future.” Well friends, I look forward to hearing of your adventures this summer, as well as sharing mine with you.

Wet Hot Museum Summer

May 25, 2009

Welcome to the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Class of 2010’s summer blog. This format will give us a chance to reflect on our experiences while at our various internships, as well as provide a forum for fielding questions, concerns, or funny museum occurences. Finally, it’s a great way for us to stay in touch despite the incredible distance that will be separating (some of) us.

Happy interning folks!