Thursday, August 16, 2007
Student gains experience at Rochester museum
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Marlene Edge knew the only way to get ahead in the future was to get involved with the past. The anthropology major began searching for a local internship with the help of Associate Professor of Anthropology Suzanne Spencer-Wood, who received an e-mail from the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm inquiring about possible summer interns. Edge jumped at the opportunity and has spent the summer learning about working in a museum.
“I always knew that I wanted to work in a museum of some sort, but I never really knew all the different professions involved. I came to the conclusion last year that I really wanted to work with archaeology and material culture, so I assumed I would pursue a career in collections management. Now that I am working with a handful of professions, I have opened up to other concentrations, such as museum education, museum curatorship or possibly even museum management,” Edge said.
At the beginning of the internship, Edge learned about the museum and Van Hoosen Farm. She then learned about setting up displays and helped assembe some about the Adams Road matasdon in the museum’s dairy barns. Edge also spends time cataloging artifacts and donations into Past Perfect, a program used by many small- to medium-sized museums.
Most of Edge’s experience comes from the classroom. During the spring semester, Edge participated in Anthropology 383 class with Associate Professor of Anthropology Richard Stamps. The class worked on the Austin Farm located on the southwest corner of camps. The class worked to recover artifacts from the site and decode love letters that were part of the material given to OU as part of the land.
“Historical archaeology and Anthropology 383 have helped a lot with this internship because when we get donations or gifts turned into the museum, we have to write up a description of each 3-D object,” Edge said. “So far I have learned a lot about different furniture styles and periods, as well as being able to define the objects correctly. Working in the collections room is comparable to working in the lab after I found an artifact and needed to catalog it in our class data.”
Edge said the internship prepares her for the real world and gives her an honest glimpse into her future profession. She encourages all students to find an internship in a field related to what they want to do. She said it’s interesting and it teaches something in the process.
“I look at archaeology as ‘hands-on history.’ Textbooks can only tell you so much about the past and the people who lived through it. It’s really a great experience to be able to excavate an area, take all of your findings back to the lab, wash them and define what the artifacts are and what they are used for,” Edge said. “Being able to hike into a field every day for a month in the scorching heat and loving every second of it, that’s how you know you were meant for this field.”