In the Loop
Student Stories : Aug 16, 2017

UF Museum Studies students continue their hard work in the summer

By Macey Wilson

While some UF students are off enjoying their fun in the sun, the Museum Studies students haven’t stopped their hard work. They’re representing the Gator Nation at a variety of museums and historical societies around the country.

Lauren O’Neill: Anna Maria Island Historical Society (Anna Maria Island, FL)

Lauren O’Neill is an intern at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. While there, her primary job is to create a historic walking tour brochure for Bradenton Beach. This involves researching from the archives and libraries, interviewing locals and finding the best path for those touring to walk through. O'Neill said this is her first time creating a brochure. 

“This is not my brochure, it belongs to the historical society – the board members, docents and visitors,” O'Neill said. “Their input has been so vital, and incorporating everyone’s information and ideas will make a really special brochure that everyone can be proud of.”

O'Neill said the hardest part of her job with the society is verifying some of the written and oral histories.

“Many stories were not written down, or the records were not kept,” O'Neill said “There is this fantastic series of articles in one of the local newspapers from the 1990s. Unfortunately, the author’s research was not kept when everything went digital, so I’m not easily able to verify some of the lore that she had written regarding pirate treasure and Spanish occupation on the island.

When she returns to Gainesville in the fall, she will be in her second year and start working on her thesis. She is also pursuing certificates in Historic Preservation through the College of Design, Construction and Planning as well as fundraising management from the College of Journalism and Communications.

Kaitlyn Hof-Mahoney: Kentucky Historical Society (Frankfort, KY)

Kaitlyn Hof-Mahoney is an inventory assistant at the Kentucky Historical Society. Her job is to continue the museum’s comprehensive inventory project. She matches objects with their records, takes photographs when needed, updates the computer database and notes the condition of each object.

“This project was started in 2014 and is a push to put hands on every object in the collection, which numbers nearly 100,000,” Hof-Mahoney said. “In doing this, we have found objects that have been listed as missing for years in the computer but have actually been in the gallery the whole time.”

While the work can be tedious, like when it took her two days to match a drawer of unlabeled projectile points to their records, it’s worth it in the end.

“The satisfaction of updating a location from ‘missing’ to a specific cabinet can’t be beat,” Hof-Mahoney said.

Once back in Gainesville, she will start working on her project-in-lieu-of-thesis, which is conducting an inventory of the Matheson History Museum in preparation for their move to a new building.

Maddie Collins: Springfield Armory National Historic Site (Springfield, MA)

Maddie Collins is a curatorial intern at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Their work includes helping out with the annual inventory process and increasing public accessibility for the collection through Cataloging Cultural Objects, a customizable metadata cataloging system.

“I always appreciate any efforts to increase public accessibility and use of collections,” Collins said. 

Collins had never done any metadata management before, but said their studies, especially the collections management seminar, prepared them for this internship.

“We are also working with UMass IT on an iPad application,” Collins said. “The application will highlight objects from our World War II collection.”

Collins is a College of the Arts graduate student working on their Masters in History, with a focus on Medieval European History, as well as the Certificate in Museum Studies.

Noelle Ward: Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY)

Noelle Ward is a collections management intern at the Corning Museum of Glass. While there, she works with both the registration and preparation departments. Her work ranges from creating and verifying records for the pieces to packing them for storage and shipping.

“It is satisfying to know that I am contributing to their safe keeping and longevity,” Ward said. “It is also fun to look at all the different colors and designs on the fragments [in the collection]. There are some really beautiful pieces of Islamic glass with stylized animals on them.”

Ward said one tricky part of her internship is learning how to write the museum's accession number on the objects in a way that it’s small enough to not be noticed, but still legible. This is also her first time handling ancient objects.

“The Corning Museum of Glass has a really amazing collection, and it is exciting to be working with it and learning about it,” Ward said.

When she returns to UF this fall, Ward will start on her thesis. She’ll find a museum or cultural institution that needs similar work to what she did for George A. Smather’s Library last semester, a preservation assessment of the Special Collections.  She will graduate in December 2018 with her MA in Museum Studies with a concentration in Art History.

Lynea Wilson: History of Diving Museum (Islamorada, FL)

Lynea Wilson is a Museum Intern at the History of Diving Museum. Her work involves developing educational programs, helping in collections care, researching and drafting grant proposals, organizing a summer reading program, designing marketing materials, writing tours and more.

The internship is designed to be all-encompassing, allowing Wilson to work in a variety of areas, including some she hadn’t experienced before.

“If I’m interested in a project or sitting in on certain meetings etc., the museum is really responsive to that and works to include me,” Wilson said. “I’m definitely grateful for that.”

One of the projects Wilson spent a lot of time working on was the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Women’s Dive Day on July 15, where she spoke on some of the women pioneers in diving. She spent much of her internship researching the women, creating promotional materials for the event and working with the dive shop and sponsors.

“If you’re in the Florida Keys, you need to stop in at the History of Diving Museum,” Wilson said. “It is a really unique collection that speaks beyond diving gear and history, it shows how innovative and curious we are as humans, and what incredible things we can create when determination and exploration collide.”