An Ending To This Chapter…With An Unexpected Twist To The Story

My internship at the Missouri Civil Museum comes to a close today. During these last few weeks I multi-tasked between collections management and administrative duties.

I continued to update PastPerfect artifact files by entering detailed descriptions and condition reports. Paying attention to detail is one of the professional guidelines I learned in all of my courses in the Historical Administration Program, and continue to put into action here at the Missouri Civil War Museum. These sections will assist current and future staff members in identifying and locating artifacts.

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Along with updating PastPerfect files I inventoried more of the museum’s Civil War Era currency notes. Throughout this process I identified currency notes that did not possess a Deed of Gift form. My supervisor, Executive Director Mark Trout, found a number of these missing documents for me to enter into the software, and afterwards I placed them in their assigned binder where all of the hard copy forms are located. It is extremely rewarding to know that the staff will use the standardized system I developed within this software as their central collections management system after I leave.

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This final week my main task was being responsible for the administrative operations while the rest of the staff worked on restoring the 1918 Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange building next door.

1918 Building

This building will function as place for educational programming, an events center, and library research facility. The Executive Director hopes to open this building to the public in June 2016. With the rest of the staff next door I oversaw the administrative and gift shop desks, conducted merchandise inventories, visitor interaction, and recorded future field trips.

Me

However….my time at the Missouri Civil War Museum is not over. I am still going to volunteer every week until I do not possess the time to do so. I will still complete the same duties assigned to me for this internship. This chapter has ended but the story goes on!

 

Collections Management: Updating, Updating……And A Little More Updating

Over the past month the two major tasks I have concentrated on are entering missing artifact document information into PastPerfect and inventorying various collections within the museum’s holding.

“Everything is progressing…BUT”

My supervisor laughs every time I step into his office because he knows these will be the first words out of my mouth because I am finding mistakes within the Missouri Civil War Museum’s collection records that need correction. While working on my special project I documented every missing Deed of Gift so my supervisor could either find it or contact the donor who sent the item to sign a form again. After completing my special project my supervisor found multiple missing Deed of Gift forms for me to catalog into PastPerfect. This institution’s records are slowly but surely becoming accurate and complete.

In addition to entering missing artifact information I decided to take on the project of locating a photograph of each object and placing it into PastPerfect, so that when each file comes up a picture of the item will appear as well. Some artifacts do not have a picture so I am looking through all of the museum’s digital files, and if there are no images of a specific artifact then I will let my supervisor know to take a photograph at a future date. I hope to have a photograph for every item in the museum’s approximate 2,000 artifact collection before my internship ends.

I know this sounds difficult with all of my other duties and projects to complete in three weeks, but I am up for the challenge!

While diligently trying to complete and update the Missouri Civil War Museum’s entire artifact record I am inventorying various collections. I recently finished a large portion of the museum’s uniform collection, and am currently inventorying Civil War era coins. The images on these coins are just as detailed and exquisite as present-day United States currency!

After inventorying each artifact I look back at its PastPerfect file to add a detailed description as well as a condition report. These reports can help future staff easily identify each object as well as know what physical state it is in. My supervisor has expressed his gratitude for all of the work I am doing and how it helps the Missouri Civil War Museum stay efficient and accountable. This internship definitely puts my collections management and multi-tasking skills to good use.

Using my skills and letting them do their magic!

I continue to perform my other duties, such as managing the front administrative desk, gift shop, document every book donation that comes to the museum, and any other task the Executive Director gives me.

I cannot believe that my internship at the Missouri Civil War Museum ends in less than a month. This internship gave me a glimpse of what it takes to effectively manage a 501c3 non-profit museum, which will help me in my career as a museum professional. The projects I managed and assisted in are small ways in which I am leaving my mark on this institution. The Missouri Civil War Museum will have current, standardized artifact records that staff can use and follow when updating or creating new ones.

Check back to see how I spend my final days at the Missouri Civil War Museum!

Accomplishments Made Experience Gained

There is much activity occurring at the Missouri Civil War Museum. I am excited to say that I have inputted every artifact on the museum’s Deed of Gift records into PastPerfect. This system now has information on each artifact on record starting from the beginning in 2006 through 2015.

My supervisor is currently working to get missing paperwork on certain artifacts and hopefully by the time I leave the information on those missing documents will be put into PastPerfect. It is rewarding to hear from my fellow staff members how significant my special project is to the museum’s record keeping, artifact preservation, and collections management.

My supervisor has diligently over the years taken a photo of each artifact in the museum’s collections. In my last two months at this internship I hope to upload each photo onto the artifact file within PastPerfect. This way the photos are saved and preserved on another platform.

Currently, I have begun inventorying a large portion of the Missouri Civil War Museum’s uniform collection. In addition to making sure every clothing article is accounted for on the museum’s computerized spreadsheet I am checking for manufacturer marks and other identifiable numbers. The columns for these marks on the spreadsheet are blank, so I am looking at each article of clothing to see if there are any markings.

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It is like detective work handling these artifacts looking for the hidden inscription!

In addition to these projects I continue to work at the front desk to interact with visitors, inventory gift store merchandise, receive admission as well as cleaning exhibit cases and other daily tasks. The Missouri Civil War Museum is a 501c3 non-profit organization. There are three staff members who work full time at the museum, and now I am the only intern. These day to day tasks are ones that have to be done for the museum to run efficiently, so there are multiple days during the week where I am managing the desk by myself performing these responsibilities while the other staff can work on administrative duties.

Check back to see what happens next in this amazing adventure! 🙂

A Journey Builds Inner and Outer Strength

The halfway point is here! I cannot believe that I have been working at the Missouri Civil War Museum for almost three months. Where did the time go? Since my last blog I have been diligently working on my special project, while still devoting time to my primary duties.  Cataloging the museum’s collection into PastPerfect is a lot of fun because I get to see what types of artifacts the museum holds in its collection as well as preserve the information we have on each object in another platform that future staff can use.

However, as we all know with cataloging collections things can be misplaced…..such as paperwork. Making a lot of headway on this special project I have found certain documents are not where they are supposed to be and identifying inconsistencies with the accession numbering system over the years.  I have worked with my supervisor and we are fixing these problems, so that hopefully by the time I leave everything will be cataloged, consistent, and present. Fingers crossed!

The museum has accepted donations since its inception in 2002. I am happy to say that starting with this year and working backwards I am currently cataloging artifacts that were donated in 2006. This bee has definitely been busy.

For me cataloging artifacts is not only fun but rewarding because my work ensures that the museum’s collections are safe and preserved.

In the past few weeks I have also assisted my supervisor and staff installing new artifacts in various exhibits. For instance, in the past week we have completely transformed three exhibit cases in the main gallery. We switched out many artifacts in these cases with others, cleaned them, and re-arranged label cards.

Case 1

Case 3

By the way this week was my first time cleaning various weapons, such as pistols, rifles, and swords.

Since the beginning of my undergraduate career I have loved working with historical collections, and being in the Historical Administration Program and this internship has only intensified that. Both of these amazing opportunities have given me confidence in knowing what I am doing or how to find the answers when it comes to collections management as well as exhibit installation, marketing, and so many other skills.

It is only the halfway mark of my internship but as I take each step down this path my stride becomes stronger and sturdier.

Moving Forward Along the Winding Trail

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.

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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.

Me

Alex and Dan will be happy to know that I can identify some of the different parts on these firearms!

Final Shot

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.

Before

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Final

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!

The Smallest Places Provide The Biggest Opportunities

School is out but the work does not stop! I have recently started my internship at the Missouri Civil War Museum, and in that short amount of time I have done so much. Almost every day I get to experience or learn something new. This museum officially opened in early 2013 and is located in Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, MO. The number of patrons entering the building is booming. Every time I check on a visitor they have nothing but wonderful comments about the museum, and how they cannot wait to return.

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In just a few weeks of working at the Missouri Civil War Museum I have completed jobs in multiple areas, such as collections care, visitor engagement, and much more.  My primary duties for this internship are inventorying existing collections in the museum’s current computer software, exhibit fabrication, interacting with visitors, and merchandise sales and inventory.

This journey has started full speed ahead! During the past couple of weeks I have completed many collections care tasks, such as cleaning, re-packaging, and moving artifacts from one storage area to another. I am excited to be back in my niche of working with collections.

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I have handled books from the late 1800s and uniforms from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. In addition, I have conducted research on a 1890s Kimball parlor organ and multiple firearms.20150617_110731

(uniforms that range from Civil War to the Vietnam War)

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( 1890s Kimball Parlor Organ used at Jefferson Barracks)

In addition, I am gaining experience in a different area of the museum world, which is the operations side of things. I have conducted multiple merchandise inventories, inputted new memberships into the computer system, booked school and organization groups for staff guided tours and educational programming, closing the museum, and other operation-related tasks.

In the next few weeks I will assist in setting-up a new gallery exhibit on the lower level of the museum as well as switching out artifacts in the main gallery. In addition, I will begin my special project of cataloging the Missouri Civil War Museums collections into a new Past Perfect software.

This internship is starting out fantastic and I cannot wait to see what other opportunities come my way. Stay tuned for more updates.