Below are internship profiles from students in our program. If you would like to include your experience here, please contact Professor Michael Dove.
My summer internship was spent in Tasmania, Australia, working for both Port Arthur Historic Sites and the University of Tasmania.
The project was to align the archeological data of the Tasman Peninsula with the archival data, ultimately recreating the infrastructure, locations, individuals etc. of the 19th century penal settlement. I transcribed a 330 conduct records including offences punishments, freedoms and locations, coded the data, and analyzed the information. This process provided me with a detailed understanding of how raw data is transformed into interpretation, and how just how necessary each step is.
Every day, I applied what I learned during the program, even when I wasn’t at work! I attended workshops, focus groups regarding new interpretation, and even saw the original Correspondence records at the Archives, which are part UNESCO’s Memory of the World Registrar – which was amazing! I also had the unique experience of living at Port Arthur - a UNESCO World Heritage Site for six weeks. Each day I investigated a different historic building and I was constantly surrounded by amazing people from diverse fields of history, archeology, museology and management.
This internship was the perfect capstone to the Western’s one year program. Not only did the experience align with the theory we learned in classes and projects, but it also helped prepare me for a future in public history. Following this internship, I accepted a six-month contract to head back to Australia to take on more!
All my expectations for my internship with the Niagara Falls History Museums were exceeded. The position of curatorial assistant helped me to develop many skills that are desirable qualities to employers in heritage. I gained experience photo-documenting and rehousing the 8,000 artifacts in a branch of the museum’s collection. I also worked extensively with the museum’s Past Perfect database. My duties and responsibilities were not restricted to collections management tasks, but also included interpretation of the museum space, research requests from the public, transcription work, visitor experience, and special events assistance. I was encouraged by my supervisor to put forward, as well as execute, ideas for projects and enhancements to the exhibit space. This flexibility allowed me to incorporate many of the skills that I developed during my coursework in the Public History program to projects assigned to me during my internship.
Internships are not only beneficial for developing practical skills for future employment, but also assist new graduates in making the decision of which path they would like to pursue in heritage. This internship has confirmed my desire to work in the museum field, specifically working with material culture, in a collections management capacity. I feel prepared to continue my career in the museum field because of the skills I have developed in the Public History program and during my internship with the Niagara Falls History Museums. Interning with the Niagara Falls History Museums as a curatorial assistant has diversified my resume, providing me with the opportunity to interact with visitors from around the world, in a unique region of Canada.
As this year’s Robert Cochrane Lambton County Fellow, I had the opportunity to complete my internship at the Oil Museum of Canada in Oil Springs, Ontario. Working in a small museum meant that I was involved with a number of different projects. These included preparing content for an upcoming online exhibit on International Drillers from the County of Lambton, developing a Facebook page for the museum to increase its online presence, and helping to reorganize one of the galleries.
My internship experience drew on the tools I had learned in classes throughout the year and allowed me to put those skills into practice. From coding to creating mounts for artifacts, I continued to learn about the tools of the museum trade. As the summer progressed, I also learned about how small museums operate as well as their organizational structures.
My time in Oil Springs helped to prepare me for a career in the Public History field and allowed me to work on tangible projects while working with a great team of people. It is also wonderful to know that the projects I helped with will contribute to the preservation and enhancement of the artifacts, culture, and history of oil production in the County of Lambton.
My summer was spent at Fanshawe Pioneer Village, an outdoor museum in London, Ontario dedicated to interpreting the history of London and the historic townships that make up Middlesex County. My main duty while at the village was organizing a great many mixed documents into several clear collections. I was also involved in a large collections relocation project and had a number of opportunities to interpret historic buildings on site.
This range of tasks allowed me to be involved in many aspects of museum operation, including artifact conservation, exhibit design, collections management and public outreach. This wide range of experiences reinforced what the Public History program had taught me and, in many ways, went well beyond it. It gave me a chance to assist in a large scale project, complete several individual projects for the museum and interact with the visiting public in a way that gave context to all the work I did behind the scenes.
This internship reaffirmed my interest in working in the Public History field, especially in collections and archives management. The sheer variety of things that I was able to do this summer makes me feel much more prepared for the future.
Overall I could not be happier with my summer internship at Library and Archives Canada. The internship component is meant to expose students to practical knowledge and help with establishing workplace connections in order to find a job. I felt this experience has accomplished all of those elements. I have developed my practical knowledge of archives immensely, including arrangement, description, and disposition. Throughout the summer I have had the opportunity to meet and network with many experts in the archival field. My time spent at LAC has helped prepare for my future as a public historian whose main goal is to interpret history for the public. Working as an archivist this summer at LAC I have been able to interpret records for the public and prepare them for future researchers. This experience has cemented the knowledge I have learned in the program over the past year.
Between May and August 2014, I completed the internship component of the program at the large public history institution of the Ontario Heritage Trust. This invaluable opportunity has provided me with essential experience in developing my skills, under excellent leadership, in order to be successful in a future in public history. Working as the Heritage Assistant to the Researcher at the Trust, I was involved in the acquisition, monitoring and protection process of a governmental agency that preserves and safeguards Ontario’s built and natural heritage. Being a part of these processes, writing reports and conducting research for the Trust, has given me a thorough understanding of how a large public history institution operates internally and externally. Therefore, by integrating graduate level theory and research with practical experience, I was able to gain highly marketable skills and experience that can be immensely utilized in going forth in a public history career.
As a graduate student intern with The Rooms, which houses the provincial archives, museum, and art gallery, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, I assisted with the research and design of a new exhibit on the First World War. The Rooms was a fantastic location for an internship. The staff was always willing to give new opportunities and attempted to present a broad spectrum of tasks and roles that one could take on in a museum setting. I would recommend Western students consider The Rooms for their placement.
The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) is a unique institution dedicated to exploring art, history, and technology of the moving image. My internship allowed me to go behind the screen and experience the chronological pathway through the history of the moving image beginning with a Zoetrope and ending with Frogger.
The crux of my summer work consisted of a 6000 plus piece ephemera collection, consisting of mostly of film posters, as well as lobby cards, press books and film stills. The collection was donated to the Museum in 1986 and aside from a rough estimate of what the donation entailed; no one had looked at it since. Each piece of the collection had to be measured, photographed, documented and researched. In some instances translating was also necessary as many of the posters and press materials were for French releases.
The posters, which made up the majority of the collection, ranged in sizes from 246 inches by 108 inches (also known as a Billboard or 24-sheet) to 14 inches by 21 inches (Window Card). The space, not to mention the patience, required to unfold the 24-sheets was expansive to say the least, but the sight of these posters was ample payoff. Dating from 1940 to 1989, the vibrant colours remained remarkably intact for sitting unattended for 25 years.
One of the perks of working for MoMI was my museum ID card. I was able to visit every museum and most movie theatres in New York City for free; needless to say I took advantage of this privilege. I visited at least one museum and one film a week, and when I was not roaming around the MET or eating popcorn at Film Forum, I filled any unscheduled hours with as many City events as I could. I took every opportunity to immerse myself in cultural activities and historical tours; there was never a shortage of extra-curricular activities. I also took advantage of the special screenings, events, and lectures at MoMI, having the opportunity to meet some of my favourite directors in person. Most notably I met Todd Haynes, Martin Scorsese, and David Cronenberg – truly a cinophile’s dream.
Adrian Petry (Class of 2012) - St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, St. Catharines, Ontario
My summer was very busy and very exciting. I was handed the exciting task of creating cemetery tours for the Victoria Lawn Cemetery, one of Niagara’s oldest and largest cemeteries, as a part of the Niagara Cultural Capital of Canada project ‘A Walk Through History.’ The task came with a fairly large budget (as museum programming goes) and a tight timeline. It of course had a War of 1812 theme (hello? We’re in Niagara) and so the research began, first with finding a cast of characters who were veterans of the war and who were buried in the cemetery. Spirit walks are a really good way of interpreting first person histories, especially when there are a lot of primary resources to draw from. There are cautions one must undertake as a writer, director, stage manager of a project in which the story line interprets the personal histories of the city’s most prominent citizens (if one is to keep one’s job). Fortunately, I ended up with such a fantastic group of volunteers to work with that the entire process has been a blast! Busy, but fun, in the least! The project is just in its final stages now – performance!
Check out some reviews and photos of the cemetery tours here: http://www.embrace-niagara.com/2012/09/13/victoria-lawn-cemetery-war-of-1812-spirit-walk/