THE LIFE AND HARD TIMES OF A MUSEUM INTERN
by Sarah Fournier
I arrived at the museum the 10th of January extremely nervous but excited to put into action what I had learned in college. I soon realized that there was a lot that I didn’t know.
You can’t fully appreciate museum tasks and responsibilities in a classroom. This field placement, exposure to the actual profession, and the mentorship of Michael Rikley-Lancaster has given me a much better understanding. I now feel more confident and prepared to enter the field, and I really appreciate the MVTM for getting me to this point.
My focus has been in the field of collections management. At the MVTM I learned how to use the database program “Past Perfect.” The program is very easy to navigate and a great tool. I was also able to put into practice accessioning donations, photographing, cataloging, labelling and various storage methods.
During my stay, I completed this process for 80+ objects and 40+ books, processing most of the museum’s donation backlog. I labelled objects using various methods, including archival tags, pencil on paper, and Acryloid B-72 and Pigma pen. I created Mylar jackets for books in the library, microfoam wraps for artifact books, and placed objects in tissue paper and archival textile boxes.
I also created a single file storage area for the collections and acquisitions files, which had previously been stored in several boxes. This file cabinet now also includes a Collections Forms binder that contains master copies of all forms related to collections management.
Lastly, I created an incoming loan agreement for Trent University for the upcoming exhibit featuring the works of William Hodge. This work made me realize how much I enjoy collections management. I love learning about objects, sharing my enthusiasm with other people and institutions, and maintaining proper records. My positive experience at the MVTM has encouraged me to pursue and continue to grow in this field.
Michael has not hesitated to expose us to other responsibilities in the museum. In January, I helped to write sponsorship letters and grants, quickly discovering that writing grant applications is a time-consuming, repetitive task and a constant museum priority. I also helped prepare for the vernissages and the fundraising event Soup for Thought.
Members of the Exhibition Committee let me help to install the works of Gloria S. Daly for “Blanket Statement.” While I enjoyed this, my technical skills are not extensive. I certainly learned a lot listening to the creative process that goes into setting up an exhibition.
My field placement at the MVTM has been the highlight of my museum studies program, and I’m looking forward to my next museum contract. I have enjoyed getting to know all the volunteers and some of the Board members.
I am extremely appreciative of how welcoming everyone was. I will miss being there four days a week and hope that one day in the future I will see everyone again.