Museum Studies students at Luther College have interned at a wide variety of regional and national museums, archives, and historical societies. A significant requirement of the museum studies minor, the internship course provides students the opportunity to work with museum professionals to further explore potential career pathways in archives, museums, and cultural centers. Students can explore areas of museum education, curation and exhibition support, collections management, as well as business and communication. Here we feature a variety of student internship projects that span local opportunities on campus and those at regional and national museums.
When: Spring 2016
Where: The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
Major: Art with minors in Spanish and Museum Studies
The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the immigrant story through their objects, traditions, and artwork. For her internship, Miranda worked with the museum’s Chief Curator to update the Fine Art Collection’s records and gain notoriety for the collection on a national level. Specifically, she worked with the Smithsonian Database of American Painting and Sculpture to get 452 new pieces from 96 different artists registered for public use and study. Not only was it exciting to get to work so closely with the collection pieces (both through their records and physically handling the works), but Miranda enjoyed helping the collection grow and bringing attention to the hidden treasures of this “small-town” museum.
When: Summer, 2016
Where: The Porter House Museum
Major: Art with minors in Education and Museum Studies
The Porter House Museum preserves and interprets its structures, grounds, and collections to inspire diverse audiences to share in the educational and recreational benefits of learning about Adelbert Field Porter and Grace Young Porter in the context of Winneshiek County history and Mr. Porter’s love of the natural environment. During Steffenee’s internship she worked as a docent giving tours of the museum. In addition, she created various museum education resources for the Porter House such as a worksheet for children and a visual aid demonstrating the butterfly mounting process that Bert Porter would have used. This was an exciting experience that helped Steffenee to develop skills in creating fun and engaging educational resources.
When: Spring, 2015
Where: National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) preserves and makes available the permanently valuable records of the federal government. In addition to its original location in Washington, DC, the agency has locations all over the country, including regional facilities and presidential libraries. Andrea, A History major and Museum Studies minors, spent the spring semester in Washington, DC, as a research intern with NARA's Office of Education and Public Programs. She split her time between researching materials in both the online catalog and physical collections, and helping with educational activities such as those in the Boeing Learning Center and museum tours. This has been a fantastic experience being part of NARA's work to promote democracy through use of their collections and has helped her develop knowledge and skills useful for entering the museum or archival field.
When: January, 2015
Where: Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the immigrant story and is known as one of the most comprehensive museums in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. For her museum studies internship, Taylor spent the month of January in the museum's archives working with the personal papers and music transcripts belonging to the late Sigvart Hofland, composer and former professor at Luther College. Taylor surveyed, processed, sorted, arranged, and digitally cataloged Hofland's collections for the museum archive in order to make it available for research and use. This was a fascinating experience that only furthered Taylor's interest in pursuing a professional career in archives and special collections.
When: Summer, 2014
Where: Smithsonian Institution
As a double major in history and anthropology with a minor in museum studies, Emily was excited to be an intern for the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most visited museums in the country and works to commemorate and preserve the history and progress of aerospace technology. Emily worked in the collections department, which is in the process of moving the entire collection to a new storage facility. Her main tasks involved updating the documentation of various artifacts, as well as cleaning and moving medium-sized artifacts such as aircraft engines. One especially memorable moment of Emily’s internship was when she got to survey the tools used for the Apollo Lunar Module, getting a behind the scenes tour of the NASM’s spacesuit storage holding Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 suit. Overall, this experience renewed her love of space history and provided Emily with valuable work experience to help with future grad school applications and a future career in museums.
When: Summer, 2014
Where: State Historical Society of North Dakota
During Tia's summer collections internship, she worked on a large inventory and collection assessment project for the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Working alongside another intern, they focused on a full inventory of a storage unit, with some objects not yet integrated into permanent storage that were held at the State Park of Fort Abraham Lincoln. Once collection items were inventoried, they were assessed for proper processing as museum holdings, equipment, or unwanted items. Working with the Historical Society’s collections committee, Tia helped to create a plan for processing the inventoried objects according to their planned disposition. Along with her own project she got to witness other aspects of the Historical Society as they developed their final plans for the installations of their new galleries. The internship inspired her to continue the interest of doing registration work as she enjoyed presenting objects the the collection committee for approval for integration into their collections.
When: Summer, 2013
Where: Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum shares and preserves the living cultural heritage of Norwegian immigrants to America. Emily’s internship was supported by the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, which seeks to promote and preserve the story of American agriculture by assisting museums and various other cultural sites with agricultural components. Most of her time was spent on the third floor of the historic mill by taking an inventory of agricultural implements and tools, making the collection more accessible for research and exhibition. At the end of her internship, Emily was able to reunite a number of stray pieces with their original catalog records through diligent research although many of them resembled scrap wood. She feels this internship gave her a great deal of collections management experience, taught her sufficient inventorying skills, and helped her understand how to work independently on a project from start to finish.