By: Kayla Ross
Read the full September issue of Viewpoints.
As one of this year’s summer interns, I was thrilled to be able to experience many different facets of the museum in such a short time. From curating an exhibit to assisting with educational outreach planning, I feel that I am now prepared for almost any job in the museum field.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved museums; and when I realized I could make a career out of something I was so passionate about, I chose history as my college major and never strayed from the choice. In August, I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in History and a minor in Anthropology and I look forward to what the future will hold.
This summer’s internship project included designing an exhibit that is now displayed in the museum visitor center. The exhibit, “Edwardian Opulence: Living Lavishly in the 1910s,” was initially inspired by my love of the PBS series, Downton Abbey. With the renewed interest in the Edwardian Era since the series began, and more interest in the story of the Titanic with the 100-year anniversary of its sinking in 2012, I thought it would be interesting to compare the more famous lifestyles of the era to those of the McFaddins. I became interested in comparing the lavish lifestyles of wealthy southern families, like the McFaddins, to those of British nobility. I found that though there were some differences, there was no lack of elegance and opulence in either setting. My exhibit spotlights the objects that demonstrate the extravagance of life in the 1910s, before World War I brought about great changes.
I have enjoyed the project and learning to use the resources at the McFaddin-Ward House to conduct research, as well as my many other experiences during my time at the museum. I assisted with inventory of the clothing collection, which turned out to be a real education for me. Learning how museums catalog artifacts and experiencing firsthand the great attention given to care and detail provided me with invaluable on-the-job collections management experience. The experience was also wonderful because I was able to see up close what amazing works of art the clothes were back during the early 1900s. It was absolutely mind-boggling to think that some of the pieces were over 100 years old! While I was here I also got the chance to visit other museums and historic houses in the area. It was great to see other venues and see how they compare with one another.
One of my favorite experiences at the museum was to help with one of the museum’s free movie night events. These events are a lot of fun because they allow the public the chance to see older films on the big screen. Movie nights are related to the museum’s themes, this year’s being “traditions.” The community loves these movies, and so do we—sometimes people even dress up for them!
My experience at the McFaddin-Ward House has given me the opportunity to learn a great deal about the career field I plan to pursue. After I finish my time here, I plan to continue doing internships at museums and search for a position with another museum. I hope to learn as much as possible before I begin my master’s degree in museum studies. My internship has taught me so much that I now have no reservations about my ability to be successful in almost any position in the museum field. I feel really lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with the amazing people at the McFaddin-Ward House. Not only are they dedicated to the mission of the museum, but they are helpful, supportive, and a lot of fun to work with. I have learned a great deal from every person and thank them for making my first experience in the museum field such an incredible one.
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