Installing Inspiration

The past two weeks a huge project was under taken at the North Dakota Heritage Center. The renovation of the original Heritage Center gallery, renamed the Inspiration Gallery, was ready for the installation of artifacts. Focusing on an thematic overview of North Dakota’s history since settlers first arrived, the gallery space will house thousands of objects, from artifacts as small and fragile as pysanky eggs, to large artifacts such as a threshing and a wind power generator.

Of course, installing this large of a gallery space takes a lot of organization beforehand. The collections assistant had used a row of the new storage area to gather and sort artifacts by case so they were ready to go by the time the install team arrived. IMG_0966

Then we grabbed items on a case by case basis, carefully laying them out on a cart, with some cases taking up two or three carts. Then it’s up the elevator and into the gallery space.


Many of the larger artifacts such as a car and missile trainer had been brought in before install started.IMG_0964

After the artifacts made it up to the gallery, the install team finalized mounts and placed them into the cases.  My main responsibility was to monitor the artifacts and make sure the install team handled them correctly, but I also assisted in sewing artifacts onto mounts and dressing mannequins.

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For those in my class that are reading, remember the Taylor Studios team we met on our field trip to Champaign? They are the team that came in for installation. They designed many of the mounts and constructed the “Pixel cases” that comprise the gallery.

After about a week and half of installation, the gallery was finished. There are still a few places that need glass put in, and we are still waiting for a few artifacts to arrive from conservation studios. The gallery opens to the public on November 2, 2014 as part of the Heritage Center’s 125th statehood anniversary celebration.





Chicago History Museum

The staff of the Chicago History Museum often references the challenges of  working in a medium or even small institution. Naturally, this is all relative, because to me, this place seems huge! I’ve been working in the education department, which alone has 5 full-time staff members (and 4 interns currently). It sounds crazy to have an ed staff that big, but when you look at the amount of programming that is done, it is very impressive that it is only 5 people!

(Here’s a picture of the building from the outside…and that is probably not even half of it.)download

I’m working in the public programs side of the department (as opposed to school programs). I love how many walking, running, biking, and bus tours that the museum does–it is really a presence IN the city. One of my biggest projects this summer will be to revise and update all of the tour scripts. Researching and writing, while learning more about Chicago? Sounds great to me!

I will also be in charge of a week-long family fun festival that we will be having in Millennium Park. This is a big project, and it is left almost solely to myself and one other intern. We’re in charge of everything from designing craft templates to scheduling volunteer shifts. We’re expecting 600 visitors to our tent…every day! Designing craft projects that are strongly linked to history and the museum seems the most daunting right now…I’m not very crafty!

It’s exciting to be working with an institution I feel proud of and doing work I know is important.

On to Appomattox!


I grew up with a love for studying the Civil War and was able to focus my studies on the Civil War during my undergraduate years at Gettysburg College. After taking a brief respite during the last year during my graduate studies, I am returning to the field of Civil War study this summer. I have procured an internship as a second year interpretation seasonal park ranger at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. I am ecstatic to be returning to a park that I have grown fond of over the last few years!

I am excited to bring the knowledge I learned over the past year to benefit a park that deserves the best I can give it. Although I will be returning for my third summer at the park, I return with new ideas, an increased understanding of how and when to use different styles of interpretation, and the benefit of already knowing the people and places I’ll be working with, alleviating the awkward “what is expected of me” period. I will also experience the park at different times of the year than I am previously accustomed to by staying on at the site for six months rather than the three months I have previously stayed.

This experience will have its drawbacks though. I don’t get to meet as many new people, or experience a new place like most of my classmates. There will be certain expectations put on me because I have already worked at my place of internship. Accepting this position also means that I will not be able to move in with my husband right after our wedding in May since his job keeps him in a different city. Despite it all though, I am up for a challenge and I can’t wait to put my new knowledge into practice!


45 Days and Counting!

     Less than two months before I head nearly 1000 miles north to Bismarck, ND to start my internship with the State Historical Society of North Dakota on June 9th. I will be working the Jenny Yearous in the collections department as the collections technician intern. While there I will be helping accessioning, cataloging and other registration activities, as well as help in the movement of artifacts into a new storage area. For a special project, I will create and design a “recent” acquisitions case. The skills I have acquired over the last two semesters will be put to the test as I complete this exciting opportunity. 


     I’m super excited for this move. I have never been to North Dakota, and because of budget concerns, my move into my new apartment will be the first time I’ve ever been to the area. I’m pretty nervous, but the details are all coming together. I got word last week that I do indeed have an apartment, so I won’t be living out of my car for the next six months. While I will miss home, I can’t wait to get out of Illinois and stretch my wings. It will be weird though when it becomes August of 2014 and for the first time in 18 years I will not be getting ready for another year of school. 


  I will update again as soon as I’m settled up north!

Internship Plans: Archaeology in Belgium!

It is so hard to believe that a month from tomorrow my classmates and I will have completed our written comprehensive exam and begin our internship adventures!  While my classmates have decided to stay in the US for their internships, I have decided to put my passport to use and move to Belgium for the summer.

Dr. Bailey Young (a history professor here at EIU) organizes a summer archaeology program in partnership with the University of Louvain-la-Neuve every summer at the site of the ruins of Walhain Castle in Belgium.  You can learn more about this program here:

This year Dr. Debra Reid and I will be tagging along to complete a feasibility study for interpretation at the site.  I’ve spent this academic year as Dr. Reid’s GA and have already completed preliminary research about medieval agriculture, written a successful EIU Presidential grant, and begun an NEH Collaborative Research grant.

Conveniently, my family currently lives in the outskirts of Brussels, so I will actually be living at home while completing this internship. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time living and traveling around Europe so I’m hoping not to experience as much culture shock as I did when moving from the Washington, D.C. area to Charleston, IL. I also had the opportunity to visit the dig site over winter break, so I already have an idea of where I will be working!


I have started a personal internship blog so that I do not overrun this one with stories and pictures of Belgium, so feel free to follow that as well:

As this project will only run through the summer, I am still looking for a fall internship.

Internships in Historical Administration

The EIU history department introduced the Historical Administration option to its Master of Arts program in 1975. Since then it has been preparing students academically and technically to serve as professionals in museums and historical agencies. Students are introduced to the problems, philosophies, ethics, and techniques of preserving, interpreting, and administering the American heritage.

The HA curriculum combines the research orientation of a traditional cultural history program with an interdisciplinary approach to American material culture and includes a variety of hands-on activities. Each year classes work with various program partners on an assortment of projects. The on-campus academic year is followed by a six-month internship with an established historical institution or organization.

Follow the H.A. Class of 2014 as they document their internship experiences!