Academic Interns

    • cleaning nile crocodile
    • cleaning polar world diorama
    • R2 vacuuming marine life diorama
    • Cleaned marine life diorama
    cleaning nile crocodile
     

    My Best Friend is a Vacuum: A Tribute to R2D2, the Faithful HEPA-Vac

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Spring 2017

    This semester, I was lucky enough to be an intern with Gretchen Anderson, the conservator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I learned a lot. I cleaned a lot. And throughout all of this cleaning, I was always accompanied by R2-D2, the trusty HEPA vacuum. For most conservators, HEPA vacuums are the most efficient for the gentle cleaning of objects. For every diorama we were cleaning, R2-D2 was invariably by our side, waiting patiently to collect our dust.

    One of the first dioramas that I used R2-D2 on was the Nile Crocodiles in the Wildlife Halls. I never thought I would get up and personal with a Nile Crocodile and live to tell about it, but fortunately, these were dead. By wrapping a piece of vellux around R2-D2’s nozzle, we could gently suction away the dust and soot particles. This was a technique we used for most of the open-air dioramas.  

    During my internship, we also cleaned the Polar World exhibit. Bundled up in sweatshirts, we spent the week tidying up the various open-air dioramas in the exhibit. There was one minor issue, however; the artificial snow had trapped our number one enemy-dust-and was not relinquishing it without a fight. So we decided to vacuum up the snow and remove it completely, with plans to refresh the dioramas later. Shortly after we began vacuuming up the snow we realized that R2-D2 was getting clogged; poor R2 could not handle the dust and artificial snow together. So, we had to use a different bagless vacuum, one that happened to look like a jetpack. Each project had its own unique challenges, but the artificial snow was definitely one of the most testing obstructions we encountered to cleaning the dioramas.

    The most recent diorama I have been involved with is the Pennsylvania Marine Life diorama in Benedum Hall. For years, people have walked by and maybe some of them have noticed the fine layer of ocean silt that covered the exhibit. In reality, this fine layer of silt was actually the accumulation of about 30 years of dust. This was a diorama that Gretchen had been itching to get into since she first began working at the museum. After the glass was removed, we used brushes, air rockets, and of course, R2-D2, to clean the years of dust off of the objects. We also used facemasks to protect ourselves from breathing in the extremely small dust particles.

    These are just a couple of the projects I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in this semester. This internship has opened up the world of professional conservation to me, and I could not be for more thankful for my mentor, Gretchen, for giving me this opportunity. And also for R2, who always cleaned up my dust for me.  

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

  • The Hall of Valor at Soldier's and Sailor's Memorial Hall and Museum.

     

    Making History Personal at Soldier's and Sailor's

    Museum Studies Intern at the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Hall and Museum - Spring 2017

    For my internship, I worked as the curatorial and educational intern at Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Hall and Museum. Originally constructed by Civil War veterans in 1910, the building served as a gathering place to honor all veterans through the large auditorium and ballroom. Over time, it has developed more into a museum, while maintaining its status as a memorial. There are unique exhibits on the wars of America ranging from the Civil War to the recent War on Terror.

    Being a smaller museum, Soldier’s and Sailor’s allowed me work with the educational and curatorial departments. On the educational side, I helped prepare the materials needed to give the interactive tours to local schools. For the tours, each student is assigned a role and receives a customized dog tag. Most of the work during the internship was completed on the curatorial side of the museum. Donations of artifacts needed to be cataloged and photographed before entered into the computer records. This year, the museum received new PastPerfect software to catalog artifacts. I created a simple user guide for future interns and other museum staff.

    Aside from the regular duties of the internship, I spent time working with the Joseph A. Dugan, Jr. Hall of Valor. Started in 1963, The Hall of Valor honors Pennsylvanian veterans who have earned a Silver Star or higher in combat. A plaque with information on the actions of each veteran is added to the Hall, where it is hung for 2 years before being digitized. Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor have their plaques permanently installed into the Hall. Each year about fifteen members are inducted into the Hall of Valor. The 2017 inductees have brought the grand total to over 700 veterans. Technical Sergeant William Fahrenhold was one of the members inducted in the 2017 class. Among the objects donated by his family was the wartime diary T/SGT Fahrenhold kept while he was a bomber crewman in World War II. I worked on transcribing the diary to create a copy that can be accessed and viewed in the future without risking the integrity of the original diary. The internship at Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Hall and Museum has been very helpful with my career goals. I intend to work in the museum field specializing in American military history. Working alongside the curator, Michael Kraus, has expanded my knowledge thanks to his renowned status as a Civil War historian.

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    Curatorial Internship at the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms

    Museum Studies Intern at the Nationality Rooms - Spring 2017

    I never anticipated how the Nationality Room’s curatorial internship would evolve. I always had desired to participate in an organization that I could contribute something more than just adding to an email list. I was challenged in this internship, but the experience I gained is invaluable. The final products of my internship will feed into the fall semester’s Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar, acknowledging the importance of my work created additional pressure and motivation to approach every task with care and consideration. Archival and curatorial tasks are not simple on their own. A combination of the two requires a balance of organizational and creative skills. My day-to-day tasks provided me the opportunity to operate within a position that I could wear many hats, and identify what kind of work would be the most fulfilling for me in the future.

    Some of the hats fit, and others did not. The archivist’s is one that I have had in my repertoire for years now, but I was surprised to find that the curator’s did not fit. Gathering and creating the framework for an exhibition appeals to many, but I realized my organizational skills are better suited to other sectors within the field of art history. When I wore the liaison’s hat, I became aware of the power of a well-formulated email.  It was empowering to work as a registrar, to see the physical products of my efforts in the form of 463 conditions reports and three ordered storage facilities. Amidst changing roles and encountering different obstacles along the way, I realized where I belong within an institution, academic, cultural, or otherwise.

    One of those obstacles for instance is a limitation of space. I became highly aware that no matter the location, a lack of storage space is an issue that permeates through all institutions. Contending with space requires innovative methods and high levels of planning, how to utilize the smallest of areas as if it was Mary Poppins’ handbag. There is still so much that I can learn and bring to another multi-faceted position in the future. The Nationality Rooms may not be a grand institution outside of the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, but the 30 classrooms depict the ethnic groups that helped build the city of Pittsburgh. They provide visitors with an undeniable sense of pride, and facilitate conversations about the importance strong local communities and cultural acceptance. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to partake in this internship, and I look forward to seeing the students’ exhibition in the fall.

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
  • Students with Teresa Duff looking out of the window in Kevin Clancy's installation
     

    Museum Education at the Mattress Factory

    Museum Studies Intern at the Mattress Factory - Spring 2017

    As a child, I spent my third Sundays of each month at the art gallery participating in educational art activities. Some of my fondest memories were attempting to create oil pastel versions of Emily Carr’s paintings and participating in scavenger hunts that helped me get acquainted with new exhibitions. Little did I know at the time I would eventually be learning how to create similar experiences for others.

    Since January, I’ve been interning in the Education department at the Mattress Factory. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to interact with teaching artists, museum educators, and different departments within the museum. The main focus of the internship has been being a teaching assistant in an after school program.INSTALL: Afternoons @ the Factory, the after school program at the Mattress Factory is a program where different artists come in for either six or twelve weeks and teach third to fifth graders about an art practice of their choosing. While I’ve been with the after school program, I’ve worked with two different teaching artists—Teresa Duff and Hudson Rush. The first topic that was explored was motion. During the exploration of motion, I assisted students with understanding different forces through building kinetic sculptures inspired by Alexander Calder and a Rube Goldberg machine. The second topic was photography, which was a very different experience. While working with the students, I’ve learned how to effectively create inspiring learning environments, how to help facilitate a good environment for teamwork, and create dialogue between pieces of artwork and the students.

    Even though the after school program has been my main focus, I have also shadowed tours, helped create examples and prep materials for events and outreach, created educational art activities for families, and documented events the museum has held. While creating examples for different events, I was able to apply the skills I have gained in my formal education as an artist along with the skills I have gained at the internship in education. I could tailor examples to different age groups through the knowledge I’ve gained while at the Mattress Factory.

    The experiences I’ve had as a Museum Education intern at the Mattress Factory have been life-changing. With the help of everyone in the Education department, I’ve gained direction in where I’m headed professionally and academically. I’m grateful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had at the Mattress Factory to help me pursue my passion for art and museum education.

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
    • Hayley in her office
    • Gems in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems
    • Scribe in Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt
    • Butterfly on a plant in Botany Hall
    Hayley in her office

    In my office in the Marketing Department.

     

    Seeing the Museum Through a Lens

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Spring 2017

    Ever since I was a child, I remember visiting the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and leaving in awe for many obvious reasons. The infamous dinosaurs stretching across their entire hall, the Egyptian mummies with their colorful designs, and even the underrated bliss of being able to run down the cool, marble steps of the Grand Staircase, all left me with feelings of curiosity. It wasn’t until I became a marketing intern, that I began to see things a little differently. I still tried to keep the raw innocence of stepping into a museum and expecting things larger than life, but now I see the importance of each piece archived in all of its detail.

    Before starting my internship in the Marketing Department, I admittedly knew little of Natural History and the modern issues that arose with such non-profit management. But it is inherent to learn more about a subject the more you read and write about it and that’s what I was assigned to do in my first few weeks. I stumbled upon pronouncing dinosaur names such as ‘Pterosaur’ but soon became confident in my ability to write about them after some research. I learned which scientists faces went with the names I was emailing and I read articles about the museum’s ideas for innovation.

    My position included editing and writing content, producing photographs for social media, organizing archives, content analysis, answering visitor emails, and even the occasional daily office work, often stereotyped as the intern’s only position. I was truly lucky enough to be treated as another member of the marketing team, regardless of my age or the limits of my experience.

    One of the most significant projects I was chosen to work on was organizing and archiving all of the Marketing Department’s photos. It was my assignment to research sites that would allow an online space with easy access for all of our department’s employees to use. After much consideration, we chose a program that would eventually take me a couple months to complete the uploading. It was a long tedious assignment, but it allowed me to see every photo taken for the museum, past, present, and even my own; that was a surreal moment for me.

    It is common in the office to hear the word, ‘interactive’ suggested for different marketing campaigns and exhibition descriptions, and eventually this word would make its way into the way we used images. It was an amazing upgrade from the normal Windows filing system, and I quickly learned that progression was a huge factor in the museum community and something prominent in every department. Many people may associate Natural History as stagnant and unchangeable, but I have learned that we can use the informative, unique history to explain and educate individuals on a way to enhance the future. Whether it be through the use of photographs, blog posts, or educational programs offered to visitors, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has provided a positive perspective on the way that I now view museum management. In the future, I hope to explore more learning opportunities with museums and other non-profit organizations. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has continued to leave me with curiosity in all of its endeavors.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

  • The Andy Warhol Museum, front facade, 1994, photo by Paul Rocheleau

     

    The Many Hats at The Warhol

    Museum Studies Intern at The Andy Warhol Museum - Spring 2017

    This semester I was the communications intern at The Andy Warhol Museum. I put my skills to the test in tasks that involved things such as editing, research, and marketing. The Warhol gave me the chance to work on a wide variety of projects, ranging from smaller tasks to multi-stage projects.

    One of these multi-stage projects I helped a lot with was a survey revamp. The museum wanted to update their exit surveys to try to get more responses. There is currently one iPad setup for surveys near the information desk. My first task was to try to get the survey working on a second iPad. After careful research and testing, it was determined that the current iPad would not be able to run the survey software because of the age of the hardware. Since the current equipment was not up to the task, my second objective was to create a budget for the new equipment, researching tablets and software that would be the best fit for an unassisted exit survey. While researching, I contacted the Carnegie Museum of Art employee who is dealing with the surveys at their museum to compare notes.

    Other things I helped with in the communications department included social media and website analytics, using sites such as iQ Media and Sprout Social. I researched press to reach out to for upcoming exhibitions such as Farshad Moshiri: Go West, and thought of strategies of how to market the exhibitions to those specific members of the press. Also, I edited and contributed ideas to a new marketing style guide. On top of all my work for the communication department, I was able to use my skill set to assist the publication department.

    The publication department had me assisting with an upcoming book The Warhol is writing. For this project I did copy editing for multiple parts of the book, and worked on some of the bibliography. On top of that, I also edited book related materials using inDesign.

    It was really interesting to see how different departments work and interact with each other within the museum, and across other Carnegie Museums. A lot of the departments work with each other frequently, and the communication between the departments was strong.

    I really enjoyed my time at the Warhol, my coworkers were passionate about art and the museum’s mission, and they created a great working environment.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    • Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé, c. 1610. Oil on canvas. Frick Art & Historical Center
    • Isabelle de Borchgrave's creation based on Rubens's Portrait
    • Fashion exhibition research
    Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé, c. 1610. Oil on canvas. Frick Art & Historical Center

    Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé, c. 1610. Oil on canvas. Frick Art & Historical Center.

     

    Museum Education Internship at the Frick Pittsburgh

    Museum Studies Intern at The Frick Pittsburgh - Spring 2017

    During the past 2017 Spring semester, I worked as an intern under the supervision of Amanda Dunyak Gillen, Director of Learning & Visitor Experience, at the Education Department of the Frick Pittsburgh. My main job responsibility was facilitating the museum’s public programs, including program planning, gallery talks, adult and family programs, special events, etc.

    The Frick Pittsburgh is known for its historical significance as it is infused with the history of the Frick family and the 19th century Pittsburgh. At first I was a bit intimidated by the unfamiliar historical materials I was about to confront, but as soon as I entered the department, I started to learn about the museum's mission beyond being a historical institution. Revolving around its own collection, the museum has hosted and will be hosting a variety of exhibitions and corresponding programs to enrich their visitor experience. Their current big project is a three-year series of fashion focused exhibitions —Killer Heels (2016), Undressed (2017), and Isabelle de Borchgrave (2018). These fashion exhibitions are not only opening up the museum to a younger crowd, but they are also offering a new angle for looking at the museum’s collection and history. The Killer Heels exhibition, for example, drew the public’s attention to the collection of footwear of the Frick family, and some shoes were put on permanent display in the Frick’s visitor center in order to meet the continuous enthusiasm about the fashion aspect of the family.

    As an intern, I was lucky to have a lot of hands-on experience with museum programs. I assisted running special events such as the annual Women’s History Program and the Easter family program. I was also a speaker for the Friday gallery talk program and presented on the museum’s collection of Claude Monet, which I further developed into a digital project for the visitor center interface.

    My biggest project was designing public programs for the upcoming Undressed exhibition. The first phase of my work included conducting research on contemporary fashion exhibitions and their related programs, as well as learning about the Frick’s previous programs. Because of the increasing sensibility towards fashion in recent years, there were many institutions who have hosted fashion-focused exhibitions and programs, such as the MET, MOMA, as well as some smaller-scaled, local museums, and therefore I was able to find many corresponding resources. But to narrow them down and extract applicable information based on the museum’s own specificities was much trickier. For each resource I found, I listed out their key features that can be potentially incorporated into our own space. This step was very helpful towards the second phase of my work, which was the actual programming. At first my development of ideas was not very constructive. However, in the meantime, I shadowed the Women’s History program, and during the process of planning and preparation, I learned about how much details to be put into program planning. Based on my precious experience on our Gallery Talk program, I proposed an adult drop-in writing sessions in the galleries to inspire more interactive conversations on our collections. Some other examples of programs I proposed are: live art and fashion—lace making; family ball with the Beauty and the Beast; etc.

    I am very grateful for this internship through which I gained valuable hands-on experience on museum programming and many other practices. Most importantly, it helped me to find my passion on museum education, and I believe I will benefit from the knowledge and skills I learned from this internship in my future career.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh
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    Creation and Organization of an Archive

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art - Spring 2017

    In the undocumented archives of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Photography and Contemporary Art library, there was a book titled, simply, Holy Bible. Looking identical to the actual Holy Bible, this artist book by Oliver Chanaren and Adam Broomberg was almost put into the discard bin to be sold.  Luckily my supervisor and her associate realized it was a rare artist book, and we added it to the CMOA collection. For the remaining year I continued to expand this library collection with many interesting readings.

    Working under my supervisor Hannah Turpin, Curatorial Assistant of Photography and Contemporary Art, I worked to help catalogue their collection of books onto the online archive LibraryThing, label each one, and arrange them in their back library room so their collection could be complete and comprehensive.

    The program LibraryThing is an online web storage space designed to catalogue and document library books in a specific collection, with several basic features and of course premium features for those that use it more extensively. A main issue with the program is that it finds books through only a few sources and only in a few ways. By typing in an ISBN number or title it will search through Amazon.com, Overcat, and the Library of Congress. Many books are not available in those databases for various reasons, and all of those books had to be benched to be looked at later and assigned call numbers through worldcat and other libraries’ online catalogues.

    Beginning this project, I could see that it was clearly going to be large in scale. The creation of the library for this department was an interesting process as it essentially was creating my own library from scratch, and I was given certain agency in the arrangement and organization of it.  Looking back, I’ve logged over 2,000 books into their system, some even by hand when the online database was unable to register the titles or ISBN numbers of certain newer or older books. I started the semester working with another student who, while doing her own research, assisted me with some of the original logging, helping to lighten the workload.

    While spending the year cataloguing and shelving the museum’s library, I was also given the opportunity to help out in small ways in other parts of the museum. I was invited to the opening presentation of the new architectural exhibition at the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester. I also was able to be a part of the Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh Wikipedia edit-a-thon, co-organised by Angela Washko, where I sent in a long list of artists in our collection that were women or members of the LGBTQIA+ community who didn’t have as big an online Wikipedia archive as many other white male artists.

    At the end of the year, looking back on my experience, I think I accomplished a great deal, especially after being given such a large task. Moving forward to the future of this collection, there are still many books to be labeled and shelved and the position is going to be taken over by another intern. I leave for them a proposal detailing what still needs to be done, the organizational aspects that I have created for the labeling and shelving, and a plan for the department that uses the library to keep their collection in usable order to prevent a collapse of the system in place.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Talking about "The Other": Resources for the CMNH

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Spring 2017

    This past spring, I had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Erin Peters and the Department of Education at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH). My job was to provide an outline for a potential curriculum to be used for docent training at the CMNH in talking about cultures which are considered “the other" particularly with Alcoa Hall, but also in general. The term “the other” or alterity in this context refers to cultures which vary greatly from western culture and as such are not well known among the average person in the United States and often the average person has grave misconceptions of these cultures. These facts make it difficult to discuss these cultures in a museum setting.

    In an attempt to tackle this task, I started by talking to professors in several departments at the University of Pittsburgh including anthropology, history of art and architecture, and religious studies to get their opinion on the subject as well as the current state of the cultural halls at the CMNH. I was also able to set up meetings with the director of the Department of Education at CMNH as well as the people in charge of training docents to get their opinions on the subject. I was even able to view the training videos that they use for training the docents at CMNH in the cultural halls.

    By combining the opinions of academics and museum professionals, I was able to get a good idea of where to start my own research. From there, I did a lot of research ranging from specific case studies of mostly representations of Native American groups in museums through to anthropological and historical theory. This took up the bulk of my internship by simply reading through the material and creating short summaries of each paper/book.

    At the end of my internship I created a short outline with all of the ‘big ideas’ of all of the readings for the CMNH as well as a set of summaries for the resources that I gathered. These will be presented to the Department of Education at the CMNH to help guide them as they are changing their docent curriculum.

    Overall, this internship was very research oriented and hands-off. I found that it helped me to better work independently and find better sources for research projects in museum studies research. In the future, I hope to use these skills to further my own research.

    • The Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt
    • Implementation of Front-End Evaluations
    • Implementation of Front-End Evaluations
    The Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt

    The Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt

     

    Audience Evaluations at the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Spring 2017 

    As an undergraduate student who is double majoring in Anthropology and Art History with a Museum Studies minor, I was overwhelmed when offered the opportunity to work side-by-side with Dr. Erin Peters, assistant curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, during the initial stages of development for the institution’s new ancient Egyptian exhibit.

    I began my position as a curatorial intern by reading articles and reports as background information, which explained how audience evaluations are designed, implemented, and reported in a museum. After this initial research, I developed my own audience evaluations that I then conducted on visitors of the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt. Two evaluations resulted in the form of questionnaires. The first was a summative evaluation of the current exhibit, while the second utilized front-end methodology focusing on the ideas that have been formulated for the new exhibit. I spent approximately 24 hours and 55 minutes conducting these evaluations, receiving a total of 86 responses for the summative questionnaire and 83 responses for the front-end survey. I then analyzed the results and produced a report that will be included in the institution’s proposal for the new Egyptian exhibit, “Egypt on the Nile”. In this report, I drew conclusions about visitors’ responses and made suggestions regarding the modification, addition, or elimination of elements included in the current ideas for the new exhibit.

    Through my work with Dr. Peters, I learned valuable information about audience evaluation techniques and the process of designing new exhibits in museums. Additionally, the challenges that arose resulted in beneficial learning experiences. From the implementation of my evaluations, I learned about the different sampling techniques that can be utilized. After attempting to offer my questionnaire to every fourth group exiting the exhibit, I found that the varying amounts of time that participants took to complete the survey restricted me from doing so, as I only had one laptop on which the questions could be completed. Because of this difficulty, I decided to change my evaluation methods for the second questionnaire. I then had both a laptop and paper surveys available so that multiple participants were able to complete the questionnaire at one time. This allowed me to ask every group that exited the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt rather than waiting for every fourth group. These methods proved to be much more successful and brought an increased amount of consistency to the implementation of my evaluations.

    Because I hope to work at either an art or natural history museum in the future, possibly in exhibit design or educational programming, this position provided me with significant real-world experience in a museum setting. My internship allowed me to expand my understanding of museum evaluation techniques, technical writing and reporting, and the various roles that work together to create a new museum exhibit.

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