I feel this is a good title for this month’s blog about my internship at the Missouri Civil War Museum in St. Louis, MO. July has been a busy month for the museum. The museum just celebrated its 2 year anniversary on June 27, 2015. My supervisor, who is the Chairman and President of the Missouri Civil War Museum, started the process of restoring this building and establishing this museum in 2002. After 11 years of fundraising, dedicated volunteers, and determination the building was completed and opened to the public in 2013.
This building is the 1905 Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange building. It served many functions through the decades, such as the general store where soldiers bought a variety of goods, a gymnasium, mess hall, bowling alley, and much more.
Now the history of this building is not the only thing that has experienced change. In preparation for the Missouri Civil War Museum’s anniversary celebration, which involved opening a new gallery, a barbeque, and a blue grass band, a fellow intern and I rearranged an exhibit in the main gallery.
He and I removed some objects and added new ones, changed the placement of these artifacts, and cleaned the lighting.In addition, my supervisor gave me the task of choosing which photograph panels should go in the exhibit and deciding where to place them.
Wait there is more! At 5am on June 27, 2015 I arrived at the museum to help set up the “Jefferson Barracks Through The Years” Gallery. Before setting up the gallery this area served as a theater room that showed a 7 minute video about Missouri during the Civil War. When I arrived only the panels were up. Two staff members and I set up all of the artifacts and labels in the exhibit room. It took the staff 4.5 hours to get all of the artifacts and labels placed, glass cleaned, and the 15 minute video up and running in time for the anniversary celebration.
Another point along the winding trail of my internship that I have reached is assisting my supervisor in completing an inventory of some of the museum’s collections as well as my special project. My special project is underway as I have already cataloged multiple artifacts into the new software system. PastPerfect allows me to write a condition report, identify manufacturer marks and serial numbers, describe the object, discuss the provenance, and much more.
In addition to these tasks I continue to interact with the visitors and assist in merchandise sales. I have reached a point where I can answer most questions asked by patrons, such as inquiries about the history of the building, Missouri during the Civil War, the different sites at Jefferson Barracks, and the various topics that are addressed at this museum. Also, I have been assigned the job of managing a fundraising strategy, which involves generating and sending out personalized membership renewal letters. Memberships are one of the most significant ways the museum raises money. I have sent out by mail close to 1,000 membership renewal letters, and so far they have been a huge success with the return rate.
As you can see my internship keeps me on my toes. In the coming weeks I will continue working on my special project as well as inventorying artifacts. I cannot wait to see what other changes will come my way while working at this museum. I gain so much experience from completing these various tasks and projects, and I look forward to seeing where this path leads me!