What I Learned at my Museum Internship by Heather Roselle

The experience of working with the Historic Village at Allaire has been invaluable to me. Not only was I able to expand my skills as an aspiring historian, I had the privilege of meeting so many incredible visitors and staff. I began my internship term by learning the basics of how our library is organized, which is different from any public libraries you might have visited in the past. Many of the artifacts in our collection are organized by the object type and/or subject matter, and are digitized using a computer system that allows us to find artifacts without looking for them, physically. I had the opportunity to interact with the other interns, who gladly shared with me the projects they had been working on and the knowledge they’ve personally gained through working at Allaire. 

Another project I worked on when I first began my internship was gently cleaning property deeds from the 19th century. It was a fantastic hands-on opportunity to experience museum collections in a different way than I had in the past. As a historic interpreter, I primarily just discussed the history and purpose of certain objects, but this time, I was able to handle them up close. Being able to see the tiny, minute details on different objects allowed me to become more detail-oriented as an observer. 

After learning the basics of the library, I moved up to the office to learn how the different departments of the museum (education, development, communications, and collections) work together to uphold our mission statement. I first delved into the collections department to help prepare a display for the fourth of July. Through setting up a collection of historic and largely hand-sewn flags, I was able to honor my personal adoration of textiles, as being able to see how the fabric and stitches were holding up helped me expand my understanding of conservation. I also realized first hand that setting up displays is not a quick process, nor can it be taken lightly- I felt really lucky to be doing such important and exciting work with the collections. I also love how the flag display comes together every year. 

From there, I helped the communications department in creating content for social media and YouTube. I had a lot of fun filming a video where I tried to produce a pie using a historic recipe that used a lot of rosewater and left a very floral, perfume-y scent in the kitchen. It was extremely fulfilling to be able to see these projects through from start to finish, to go from an idea to a full product. I loved being able to implement a plan to accomplish both my short and long term goals, whether it be a YouTube video or something short like a TikTok. I didn’t consider myself to be especially savvy when it came to the internet prior to this experience but now I feel like I have a very useful skill under my belt. 

I spent my remaining time as an intern writing posts for this blog as well as helping create an exhibit about books and bookmarks. This was probably my favorite project, as I love reading and being able to use that interest in a professional setting allowed me to get creative with the exhibit. One of the books contained love poems and belonged to a woman named Julia Allaire, and had a leaf pressed between its pages. I realized in that moment how special it is to be able to connect with someone who lived almost two hundred years ago. At one time, she held the leaf in her hands; now I hold it in mine. We’re not so different after all! 

I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had through my internship at Allaire and feel so readily equipped to advance in my collegiate and professional career. I am very excited for the future and hope to remain at Allaire because of how much I’ve learned! 

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