Thursday, April 24, 2014

Museum Studies Internships at UAB

In the fall of 2013, the Anthropology department at the University of Alabama Birmingham added a Museum Studies course to its curriculum. The Museum Studies course introduced graduate and undergraduate students to Museum history, philosophy, and function. Students gained practical experience with the UAB Josselyn Archaeological Collection. In working with the collection, students were instructed in the proper techniques for object handling, storage, object processing, and record keeping and maintenance. The class afforded students experience for their resumes while fulfilling departmental goals of curating the UAB Josselyn Collection. 

The success of the class and the need to continue the inventory of the collection opened up internship opportunities for two students during the Spring 2014 semester. Based on their outstanding work in the Museum Studies course, undergraduate students Jessica Brodt and Anna Lathem were chosen for the internship.
During the Spring 2014 internship Anna and Jessica completed a total of 25 drawers full of artifacts including stone tools, pottery, historic glass, soil samples and botanical remains. The internship afforded them opportunities to work with a wider range of artifacts, to discover and solve several curation problems, and to develop long-term procedures for working with the collection. Anna, for example, developed and implemented records curation procedures as part of her Honor's Thesis. Her research highlights the necessity for records curation in the collection and provides procedures outlining how records should be processed in the future. Her thesis addressed records management issues, including inconsistencies between records and site names, linking UAB records to the Alabama State Site Files, and development of an inventory of Site Records.

Both students gained an appreciation for the size of the collection and the amount of work it will take to complete the inventory. Jessica stated “I was shocked at how many artifacts and sites the Josselyn Collection contains", and Anna explained that, "During the internship I gained a better understanding of just how much work is needed to accession and complete the inventory of the Josselyn collection."
The Josselyn interns gained crucial hands-on experience that museums and institutions with collections value in potential employees. As work continues with the collection through the Museum Studies class and internships, opportunities to learn and gain hands on experience with other Museum aspects, such as exhibit design and community involvement will become available.