Projects Galore!

In the past two weeks I have received and done so many new projects that it’s almost getting hard to keep track of them all. No complaints here, as I love being busy, and the more things I have to get done the better. I’m still working on documenting the reference library, and along with that I have also started attaching images of objects in the museum collection so that the catalog files are more substantial.

I’ve also been doing a lot of artwork photography, which is definitely a beneficial skill to know when it comes to collections management. For the most part I have been taking pictures of posters, but in did have to take multiple pictures of a new object given to the museum, called “The Gift of the Arctic Refuge”. It was really tricky to photograph it because of the central part of the art which is a necklace made to resemble birds. I had to figure out ways to get good pictures of the birds, and also of the quotes on the birds wings. It really is an amazing piece of art, and you should all check out this YouTube video about it! http://youtu.be/5fWM3i2J57o

In amazing news, the art move is practically over. Things have calmed down, and we are now preparing for inventory. To help with this I have spent the past couple of days making sure that all of the locations are correct (for the pieces we have moved in the last two months). It took a while, but everything should be all set for when we start inventory!

Finally, I’ve realized in the last couple of days how good I am getting at using Excel. This is pretty impressive since Excel has confused me for my whole life. But during this internship I have been getting opportunities that require me putting in equations into Excel. My goodness, life is easier once you have those plugged in! Just recently I had to take 203 pieces and calculate the square footage for each piece, and then add it up to find out how much room we would need to store the artwork. Though it took awhile to put in the equation, once I had that the work became so much easier!

That’s all the news I have for now, but I do have to say that I love this internship because of all the new skills I’m learning!

I hope you all have a great weekend, and I’ll post again in two weeks!

Woops

I keep on forgetting to post! Life has been really busy, so it’s slipped my mind quite a bit. But I will say that the internship is going really well. I’ve done about 20 tours already, and every day it is getting easier and easier to publicly speak to people! I’ve also started a lot of new projects, including photographing some of the museum’s collections for documentation, and also just doing other fixing up of the collections management system so that it is easier to search. Definitely stuff that will be great to have up my sleeves when I start applying to jobs.

We are still in the middle of moving artwork back into peoples offices, and on Monday we should get the majority of that work done and then we can move onto inventory. I’m sorry that I really don’t have too much to update everyone on at the moment, but I promise I will try to remember some neat stuff to talk about in two weeks!

Until then, I hope everyone is doing well!

Hi everyone!

It’s been two weeks since I last posted - I know, I know, I’ve been slacking. But I figure that posting every two weeks will make my blog posts a bit more interesting. Anyways, things are starting to get really busy that the museum. There is a modernization project going on in the building, and the last phase starts this month. So everyone in wing 1 of the building has to move to different locations, including the artwork in their offices. And that’s where we come in. Every week we have been removing art from offices and storing them until the next week, and then we hang up the art in employees new offices. So I have definitely been on my feet. 

While taking down artwork and hanging it back up again might sound kind of mundane, I have learned an important skill that will be helpful in future museum work. And that skill is to correctly hang a piece of art on a wall - centering it, and making other pieces equal distances from each other. There is A LOT of math involved when it comes to putting up artwork. You have to measure the wall, measure the artwork, divide, add, substract. And eventually you find out where to nail in the hooks for the piece. I’m glad I was taught how to do this because this next two weeks we will be hanging a lot of art and I will have to do some of it by myself. 

In other news, I was given a new project to do by the curator! She gave me a binder that has descriptions of objects used in exhibitions the museum produced before the museum closed down for modernization. Basically, I was asked to look through the binder and update the objects in ICMS (our collections database) if there was any new information listed in the binder. It is a simple project, but a lot of fun because I get to learn about a good amount of the artifacts the museum has in their collection. 

That’s really all I have to update everyone on at the moment, but be sure to here from me again in a couple of weeks! I’ll talk a bit more about how the move went!

Telephobia

I can’t believe I forgot to post last week! Well, yes I can, my boyfriend’s parents were in town so it was a busy weekend! Anyways, I’ve had a lot of things happen in these last couple of weeks at my internship, and all things that have definitely helped me grow as a person.

First off, one thing I have to say about myself is that I often have anxiety. Not horrible anxiety, but still enough to make me nervous. One of my biggest sources of anxiety (and yes, I know it sounds silly) is phone anxiety. I have no problem calling people I know on their cell phones, but as soon as I have to call a stranger or call someplace where I may have a chance of talking to a stranger, I get really anxious. Though overall my anxiety isn’t horrible, I do admit that my phone anxiety is usually a bit closer to the moderate/severe side of things. I need to take a couple of breaths and really talk myself into getting on the phone in the situations I mentioned above.

I’ve had this problem for awhile, but I’ve had to face this, along with my discomfort with public speaking in these past two weeks.I finally took over answering the phones and scheduling tours at work. The first couple of times the phone rang I panicked a tiny bit, but after some calming thoughts and reminding myself that I have a set thing to say (“Interior Museum, this is Stephanie”) I was easily able to pick up the phone and it really hasn’t been a problem since. I also started doing tours on Thursday, and though I was terrified that my first tour was 15 people, I did fairly well, and I know they won’t be as bad now that the first hurdle has been jumped. I am honestly really proud of myself being able to overcome these things that worry me, and I know getting past these things will make me a better museum professional!

This week I also got to stretch my exhibition planning skills by giving advice to the curator every once and awhile as she has been planning the layout for the traveling exhibition the Interior Museum will be hosting, opening in about a week. I was able to help pick colors for the text labels, and gave advice on where the main text panel should be placed on the wall for the best visitor experience. I also got to help install a couple of the text panels! I can’t remember the type we used, but I do have to say that it was much more forgiving then trying to install vinyl!

image

Here’s me installing one of the text panels for the See America! exhibition!

I also finally finished the hard copy of the radio transcript and the finding aid! I was pretty proud of myself, and our curator loved my finding aid which really made me feel great. 

image

The finished product!

After the staff meeting we had on Tuesday, I have to say that I am really grateful that I work with a group of people who make it a point to thank me for my work and point out what I have done so far, and how appreciated it is. It has really boosted my confidence to know that I’m doing my job correctly, and makes me more confident that I am, indeed, in the right career field for me. During the meeting, I was asked by the museum director if I had anything to share. I mentioned that I would be starting tours soon, and because I usually don’t think much of the stuff I have been doing, I couldn’t think of anything else to say. That’s when both the curator and the collections manager chimed in and mentioned that I was almost done with the finding aid that was looking great, and that I had been really helpful in re-organizing the basement storage area in preparation for the artwork move that will be occurring in the next couple of weeks. Hearing those words from them was definitely helpful for my self-esteem!

Well, that’s all for now! I hope you all enjoyed this two weeks-in-one blog entry. I’m sure I’ll have more to share next weekend about my adventures at the Interior Museum!

Have a great weekend!

Almost Forgot to Post!

Whoops! It was such a busy weekend that I almost didn’t have time to update everyone on the internship! But I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. I met up with a friend from college and we went to the DC parade and also to the fireworks. It was a lot of fun!

Anyways, this past week was only a four day week. I worked more on the finding aid for the radio transcripts, and I am proud to say that project is almost done. My boss was also able to catch up on some work he had to do so we were able to start some more projects, including organizing the art storage space, and hanging and moving more pieces of art. I also got to be a bit crafty and made window covers for the storage room using painters tape, butchers paper, a ruler, and scissors. I was pretty proud of myself for making them the right size the first time around, and they are doing a great job of protecting the artwork from natural sunlight, which can eventually destroy art.

Many of the tasks I did this week could technically be counted as busy work, but it is all stuff that is good practice and experience for future museum work. I scheduled my first tour on Tuesday, and though it was a little nerve wracking, I only forgot to ask one thing, and that was easily solved by a call back to the person. I also helped to fix a chair in the office (though my main job was “fall guy” who got to test the chair before and after to make sure it didn’t fall apart….).

Next week me and my boss will be starting some of the more long term projects that I will be working on, and I am really excited! Sorry that this post was so short, but I’m sure I will have a lot of interesting anecdotes for next time!

Until then, have a great week!

On Fridays We Have Popsicles

So the second week of my internship is officially done! This week honestly hasn’t been too eventful, since like with any job people end up having hard deadlines to meet. That’s what happened to my boss this week so unfortunately we have not been able to start any new projects (or work on the inventory which should be done by the time that renovations of Wing 1 begin). Despite this tiny set back, I was able to work on the radio transcript project and the secretarial gifts!

While working on the radio transcript project I encountered some bad luck with the office USB. I tried to scan the pages onto the USB (all 400 of them) and then the USB decided it needed to be reformatted. I tried this, and then the USB completely died on me. Thankfully, the curator had an extra USB that I could use and eventually I was able to scan all of the pages onto the USB and create a full PDF of the radio transcript binder. My next task is to create a finding aid for the binder, and also to create bookmarks in Acrobrat Pro so that people looking on it online will be able to search it! I am really loving this project because eventually this binder will be available to the public and it is cool to know that I have helped to make it accessible.

Working on the secretarial gifts has also been really interesting. It is fairly straight forward, as all I have to do is input the gifts into the gift database, and also write down the addresses of the gift presenters for future thank you letters. This task has been enjoyable simply because it is in a different part of the DOI building. I also can’t complain because I got a strawberry popsicle while in the office yesterday…it’s the little things! :)

I’m sorry that there wasn’t much to report on next week, but next week should be much more eventful and I am sure I’ll have more to write about next time! Until then, have a great week!

First Week Completed….ow, my feet

So I had a great first week at the Department of the Interior Museum. Most of this week has been administrative tasks, such as filling out required paperwork for my internship/temporary employment. It took the entire week for me to get computer access and my email account, which made it so I really could not do anything involving the collections database that the Interior Museum uses, called ReDiscovery.

Nevertheless, I still was able to go help start the annual inventory of the collection, which is interesting for the Interior Museum because a portion of the collection is artwork located in employees offices throughout the Department of the Interior (DOI) building. Even though it has only been a week, myself and another NCPE intern (who will be leaving next week to go to the National NAGPRA Program), finished a good amount of the inventory within the building. I also got to help put up artwork in one of the Assistant Secretaries offices!

I was also given three side projects to work on during downtime. The first project came from the Curator. I was given an old binder filled with transcripts from radio shows done by the DOI radio station in 1937. We want to preserve the binder as is, but we also want to be able to have versions available to the public. That’s where I come in. I was given the task of photocopying the contents of the binder to make a hard copy, and then scan that hard copy to a USB so that the museum has a digital copy. I am already half way through with this project, just have to scan it!

The second project also came from the Curator. I was told that the Secretary of the Interior receives many gifts during her travels that have not been documented into the computer yet. The woman who would usually do this manages many other aspects of the Secretary’s office and needs assistance with this task. So, every once in a while I will be going up to the Secretary’s office to go through the gifts and catalogue them!

The third project came from the Collections Manager of the museum. The Interior Museum is planning on moving a part of their collection, housed right now in a Smithsonian storage facility, to a brand new storage facility. The Collections Manager had made a list of equipment and storage structures that would be needed at this new space. This list included things such as shelving, pallets, desks, and other equipment. The Collections Manager asked me to review the list and see if I could come up with anything else that we would want in the space to help with the move and to help with the collection. This project will last a bit longer I imagine, and so far has actually been the most difficult for me. I can not think of anything!

One of my tasks for this internship that I am the most nervous about is giving tours. The Interior Museum gives mural tours every Tuesday and Thursday from 2 PM - 3 PM, and as the NCPE Intern, it will be my job to schedule and give these tours. I have never given tours before, but I know it will be a great experience. There is a lot of information to learn, but I hope I can get it down. I tagged along while the other intern gave a tour so I got a little taste of what I have to do, and it doesn’t seem horrible. And this experience will look great on my resume!

I hope you all have enjoyed this little overview of the types of projects I worked on during this first week and I will have more next week to tell you! Have a great week!

I’m back!

It sure has been awhile. A quick update on my life: I graduated with my Master of Arts in Anthropology (concentration in Museum Studies) from George Washington University in May. It’s been a tough two years, but I have learned so much and I don’t regret it! Now I am in my new apartment (still in DC), with my boyfriend who just got his BA in Music. I am lucky enough to still be in DC because A.) The boyfriend is getting is MA in Audio Technology at American University, and B.) I received an NCPE (National Council for Preservation Education) internship in my final semester at GWU! For the next six months I will be working as a Museum Technician at the Department of the Interior Museum. I could not be more excited!

My plan is to update this blog every week with stories and things I have learned from my time at the DoI Museum! I hope you all enjoy what I have to share over the next six months!

My first day of work is tomorrow, and I will be sure to write a post at the end of the week! Have a good day!

imeanlikewhat said: Hello! I don't know if you still check this blog, but I figured it was worth a try. I'm going to be spending a semester in DC in about a year and would love for my internship to be at the Smithsonian. What can you tell me about the application process? Thank you!

Hey! :) I’m actually planning on reviving this blog since I’ll be starting an internship at the Department of the Interior Museum in a couple of weeks.

Anyways, I actually was able to skip the official application process because I contacted the office I wanted to work in directly and asked if they were willing to take me in as an intern. I would suggest contacting any areas you would want to intern in directly first. I found that this way was relatively hassle free (though I can’t really speak for the the official internship applications).

I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions! :)

The End

After 15 amazing weeks, my internship sadly came to an end today. I have learned so much, and I really didn’t want to hand in my badge! I’m really not sure what else to say. It’s amazing how much my research and writing skills have improved over the semester! At the beginning I was so uncomfortable about anyone reading my work, and now I am actually OK with it.

This past week basically consisted of me wrapping up my project. Unfortunately it is nowhere near done, but at least I got far enough that it will help the repatriation staff to finish writing the report with the information I found. And today I was running around the museum (with my hurt foot) trying to finish my “Internship Exit” form. I eventually got that done, despite my supervisor not being in, so I had to ask someone else in the office to do it! And then I went to surrender my badge. That was the worst feeling, and I will truly miss having the ability to come into the museum by just flashing it at the guard!

image

The final packet of the work I have done this semester!

image

Last moments with my badge…

I have so much more appreciation for repatriation and how complicated the processes are. And I am so grateful for the people I have met, and for getting to participate in a repatriation. As one of the people in the office pointed out, it’s not often that someone not on the staff gets to see that side of repatriation. I will never forget it! Matter of fact, I will never forget this whole semester and all of the experiences I’ve had! I’m glad I will be able to see everyone again at the Repatriation Holiday Party in two weeks! That will be fun! :)

…I will also miss having my own big cubicle…

I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog throughout this semester! It was wonderful getting to share my experiences, and I hope you all had fun reading! :)