Intern Weekly Response: 2019 Reflections

Posted on August 8, 2019 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to reflect on their internships as a whole. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

~from Intern Hannah

The past ten weeks have been an amazing and very wild ride. I have learned so much from this internship. From working the front desk and gift shop, to school groups, adult tours, and creating educational materials and programs, the experience I’ve had was amazing and made me more confident that I want a career in museums. I loved being able to show history to a wide range of people, from all different backgrounds and ages. I also loved being able to leave my mark on the Jewish Museum, whether through the educational materials I worked on, or the programming projects I helped with.

Doing Exit Interviews with Museum Guests seeing Fashion Statement.

I created my first lesson plan and educational tools, and learned what responsibilities are typical in museum education. It was really interesting to be able to sit in on staff meetings and to get an idea to how it feels to actually work in a museum and create new programs and educational materials to go with the exhibits. I was able to watch ideas go from a brainstorm to a real objective through team meetings and conversation. It was great to see things I worked on come to life before my eyes, like the Jonestown festival and the Summers Teachers Institute. Programming was something I had experience with, being a board member on my colleges Hillel for multiple years, and I had a great time continuing to work on those skills this summer. I didn’t get to bring any of my ideas to life but I loved collaborating with museum staff and I hope my suggestions come to fruition with time.

It feels especially important to be wrapping up this internship with the summer teachers institute, I am struck with the power that museums have to convey a message to a large population of people and get them thinking. I loved being able to participate in this seminar and see the Holocaust Museum as well as hear Esther’s Story at AVAM. I got to meet many educators and I learned a lot about women in the Holocaust.

This was my first time at the Holocaust Museum in DC. I learned a great amount that trip and during the rest of the Summer Teacher’s Institute.

Looking towards the future, I will be able to keep the resources I was given for my future in education. I will definitely take the tools I’ve learned this summer unto other museum jobs in the future. I learned so much about Jewish history in Baltimore, something I had not known much about previously, but is so interesting to me. Jewish history is one of my passions so I loved being able to dive deeper into that history. I will never forget this internship and all that I learned.

~from Intern Elana

I cannot believe that ten weeks have already come and gone. In writing this reflection, I have realized all of that I’ve learned about museums, collections management, and myself over the course of these course of my time at the JMM.

Helping out at the 2019 Jonestown Festival.

From the day to day to workshops to museum trips, the JMM internship allowed me to learn about museums in a variety of ways. I learned more and more about how a museum operates each and every day I spent at the JMM. Every time I spoke to one of the staff members, I learned more about what they have to think about in a day, the projects and responsibilities that they take on, and what it really means to work in a close-knit museum environment. The workshops enabled me to learn about diverse topics in museums that I had never been able to explore before directly led by the amazing staff at the JMM whom are each experts in their various fields.

Next, I would like to touch on what I learned in my specific internship in collections. Going into this internship, I had a goal: to work with objects I had never been able to work with before and over the course of the summer, I slowly achieved this goal. I worked with documents, photographs, rare books, clothing, and even magic tricks! I learned how to handle, store, and care for each of these types of objects properly and now I have much more confidence in myself in working with various types of objects. The staff at the JMM, especially Joanna and Lorie, taught me about many aspects of what go into collections management and what people who work in collections have to deal with on a day to day basis. Keeping track of the Museum’s collections and making sure that they are cared for in a proper and organized fashion is no easy task, but with the training here at the JMM with Joanna and Lorie, I have a much better understanding of careful and organized collections management.

These past ten weeks have enabled me to learn so much about museums in so many different ways from so many different people. I could not be more thankful for the opportunities that the JMM has provided me and the wealth of knowledge that I have gained this summer.

~from Intern Megan

As the internship comes to a close, It seems fit to reflect on the 10 weeks I experienced at JMM. Firstly, in regard to what I have discovered this summer, I would say that I found out a lot about what I want to do in my future career. I realized that I really do love to write and would love to have writing be a core responsibility in any role that I get. I particularly enjoyed writing a couple appeal letters and doing research on what makes a good letter. I also discovered what working in a small museum (and museums in general) looks like. I’ve learned that while everyone has different roles and titles, all of the employees come together nonetheless for many different projects and definitely have overlapping work. This makes for a more team feel which is also something I discovered I would appreciate in my future work environment.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Some of my favorite memories from the internship include going on field trips with the other interns to different museums. I really enjoyed being able to look at other museums through a newfound lens; I was prompted to analyze each exhibit space in comparison to the ones at JMM and this really got me thinking. I also really enjoyed being a part of the 3-day STI program which taught teachers how to teach the Holocaust.

I got to hear so many stories and learn a great deal of information I did not know already.

At JMM I’ve learned how to search for grants, what it takes to match grants, what working in a museum looks like, how to write appeal letters, what event planning and execution looks like and more. It is safe to say that my experience at JMM has been a great one!

~from Intern Ariella

Coming into my JMM internship, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Because I didn’t fully understand what I’d be doing, I had some preconceived notions in my mind. Two and a half months later, here’s my thoughts on the internship, from then to now.

Myth: working in Education/Public Programs means you’ll be limited to working in these departments.

Reality: I was really hoping this wouldn’t be true. As I’ve explained before, I really wanted to work in a museum this summer because I wanted to be exposed to the whole system. I wanted to know how everything works.

One of the many intern workshops held in the JMM boardroom.

JMM is on the smaller side, and that worked to my benefit. The majority of what I did consisted of Education/Public Programs assignments. But not everything. I learned how to work the front desk, manage Esther’s Place, conduct evaluation surveys, design an improved visitor experience, and lead synagogue tours for adults. Extremely helpful were the staff-led workshops that we had nearly once a week, all designed to teach us about the other museum departments. Workshops are a great idea, almost a crash course in museum careers.

The Windsor Hills neighborhood of Baltimore.

I also got to do a ton of work within the Public Programs and Education departments. For the former, I helped with the organization of the Jonestown Festival. I also helped plan speakers, workshops, and family days that are Scrap Yard themed. For Education, I learned how to run tours with school and camp groups, design new educational programming, and write an educator’s guide to an exhibit. I’ve also spent weeks researching the Windsor Hills neighborhood on PastPerfect, JMM’s collections management software. You can hear all about it on my upcoming podcast.

Working with school groups!

Myth: kids don’t want to go to museums. This is based off my own memory of museum trips as a kid. I always loved going, but most of my friends didn’t share that enthusiasm.

Reality: some of them don’t, but a lot of them really, really do. Some of the kids who visited had never heard of a synagogue before, didn’t know anything about the Holocaust, or thought immigration was strictly illegal. It’s amazing to watch them learn the facts — and they usually have tons of questions. They really do want to learn something new.

But yes, there will always be kids who couldn’t care less about the visit. We try to make sure they have a good time anyway. In the Voices exhibit, that usually means that they get very excited by the interactives, such as the Singer sewing machine and the outhouse (it isn’t an interactive, but the kids choose to make it one).

Funzo, the pig-nosed turtle.

Myth: it’s really cool to see how museums work from behind the scenes.

Reality: yep, this is super cool. Obviously we learned about JMM’s operation. In addition, we took trips to multiple institutions, and got to see how several of them run. My favorite was the visit to the Walters Art Museum to meet with their curator of manuscripts and rare books. Another highlight was last week’s trip to the National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center, since we spent time with their adorable misbehaved fish and turtles.

Overall, it’s been a great experience at JMM. I’ve learned a lot, done a lot, and really enjoyed my time here. Thanks for reading these posts, and be sure to visit the museum!

~from Intern Mallory. Mallory has another week left in her internship, so this week she shares a bit more detail about one of her projects!

Part of my internship this summer included processing collections. And in regards to the Har Sinai collection, reprocessing. While this took several weeks to go through, yet the other collections intern, Elana, and I were able to fully and successfully reprocess the entire collection. When we started, the Har Sinai collection was spread across 18 boxes, seemingly in no order, with little to no information for what was actually within each box and folder. In the end, we re-organized everything into 11 boxes and 399 folders. This process started with each of us going through every individual or existing folder and looking through it, making note of what is there and smaller notes about what we should move where and how we should start grouping items. From there, we entered everything into a spreadsheet, being able to color code and move around the folders as we saw fit. The final steps were placing folders within their new groupings into the boxes. But, at the end of nearly three weeks, we had the entire collection reprocessed, organized, and properly entered into the system with their new numbers.

Working with JMM collections.

Processing is a necessary part of working with collections, as it allows the user to be able to find things quickly, save space, and aid in others locating items. I had processed a collection once before JMM, but the details were never explained in full to me. Having the opportunity to process another collection, working with the documents and creating a new, functioning finding aid really helped reinforce the skill for me. While it may seem tedious to some, I enjoy processing collections; going from a disjointed series of items to a logically organized collection.


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