During my last summer at KSU, I spent seven weeks working as a Curatorial Intern at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. I chose to do my internship there in part because I have always dreamed of working in a museum. Although the exhibits at the Tellus mostly focus on geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and transportation, and not necessarily anthropology, I understood the value of gaining general curatorial experience.
I spent many days at the Tellus working with the study collection, which was created to allow students and professors the opportunity to learn about objects up close. One of my projects required a review of objects to be deaccessioned, or removed from the study collection. I was the perfect fit for this project because my anthropology training provided a unique perspective compared to the other museum employees. In order to come to deaccessioning decisions, I performed lots of research on the objects including a general overview of geology and mineralogy. With my newly acquired knowledge, I prepared reports on what type of material I believed would make a good fit for the collection and why.
Through my internship, I was able to learn about many different aspects of working in a museum that I would have otherwise not been able to experience. I learned how to properly care for the collections in a way that ensured their preservation for the future. I had the opportunity to work with many different people who make the museum an interesting an engaging place to learn. I performed research on a subject which I knew very little about and gained a greater appreciation for the collection. Most importantly, thanks to my time at the Tellus and KSU’s field and lab archaeology courses I can now say that I have been involved in every step that an artifact takes as it goes from field to a museum. I’ve pulled an object from the ground, analyzed it in the lab, learned the process by which a museum may acquire the item, entered that item into the museum’s database, and learned how to properly preserve and display that item.
Interning at the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology taught me a skill set that will help me be successful in the future. The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is primarily a research facility which means that they emphasize conserving and studying objects. I worked in the Archaeological Ceramic Digitization Program which aims to create a database of ceramic sherds found during excavation. We processed images of ceramic sherds found in archaeological books or scholarly articles using GIMP, GNU Image Manipulation Program. First, I cut the images of the sherds to scale, and then I made them greyscale instead of color, to reduce the file size. After manipulating the images, I looked through the articles and copied the text pertaining to the ceramic. In Microsoft Access I entered a code so that the text and the image appear in the main form of the database. Then, I typed the information about the ceramic into the actual database itself. I also worked on a side project from my internship coordinator to create maps of archaeological sites in Turkey using Google Earth Pro. I copied maps from a journal, overlaid the images onto the satellite image of the region, and then marked the location of archaeological sites.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday the internship program provided a tour and a class at the Museum. We toured the various Museum departments and usually went into the collection storage area. The collection storage area has many objects that have not been displayed for the general public; some like the Oceanic Section, don’t even have a public exhibit at all. The classes were led by the various keepers and curators of the Museum. They discuss various topics relating to museum work to how they got into their field. The tours and classes were very informative and gave me an idea what I may need to do to get a career in the museum field.
For my summer internship, I worked at the Funk Heritage Center in Waleska, Georgia. The Center is associated with and located on the campus of Reinhardt University. It showcases the early history of Northern Georgia, including southeast Native Americans and early Native American settlers.
Currently, the staff of the Funk Heritage Center are creating a new exhibit about the transformation of Cherokee culture during the 1800s before the Trail of Tears. For my internship, I researched content for this new exhibit using a combination of the internet, books, and old census records. It was an interesting experience. As a student, I had gotten used to using the internet, online databases, and online journals to find information. However, in my internship, some of the information I needed was too specific to Cherokee County to be easily found through these resources. Fortunately, a new director joined the Funk Heritage Center in July, and he had many useful books. I also used genealogy sites to find information of the descendants of early Cherokee County settlers.
My other duties beyond research included clerical work such as copying and shredding papers. I also shadowed a few tours for children and adults and conducted surveys on visitor experiences because my supervisor was interested in what people, especially children, thought of the Museum and how they had heard of the Museum. I learned quite a lot about how museums are run and how new exhibits are planned at the Funk Heritage Center. I hope that I will be able to use the skills I’ve learned there in the future.