Summer of Learning: Interning at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

 

When I was in 9th grade, I visited the Penn Museum for the first time and it changed my life. It sparked my interest in Anthropology and a desire to one day work in a museum. The museum has a vast collection of objects, the amount unheard of for a University Museum.

6 years later and I’m now interning at the museum in two separate departments: the Learning Programs Department whose main focus is the K-12 audience, and the Public Programs Department who focuses on the general population. Both are two separate entities but both focus on public engagement and teaching, 2 pillars of the museum’s mission statement. I knew I wanted to work somewhere in museum education in the future, so being able to intern in both departments was a perfect fit!

An aerial shot of one of the two courtyards the Museum has!

In the Learning Programs Department, I work under Kevin Schott, the Guide Programs Manager, and Allyson Mitchell, the Outreach Programs Manager both of which who are so great and amazing. Kevin is the person I go to whenever I’m confused, 10/10 times he has had answers for me. The department has several other people who are all museum educators and work on different aspects in the department. I am so grateful to be able to work alongside them since they are some of the nicest and most welcoming people I have ever met! The first day of work, over 400 kids came into the museum, all around the same time, and it was the most organized chaos I have ever seen. Everyone in the department was calm and handled all of the hyper kids with ease and went straight into the programming for the day while I awkwardly stood at the corner waiting to see what I should do. On the first day I learned that, like Haverford, Learning Programs LIVES on acronyms. From MM to MH to STR to SR, it was like Customs all over again(!!) and I was scrambling to remember what each acronym meant.

A normal day for me is entering the museum at 8:30 (Kevin & Allyson & some of the others  are always ALREADY THERE, do they sleep there or are they just that dedicated? I haven’t decided yet) and I have a quick 2-second meeting with Kevin about my schedule for the day. I’ve recently been working on two things, one being under Allyson where I am cataloguing and organizing the Education Collection (objects that are used to to teach the general public or the school groups). Which is a lot of fun and it’s cool to see all of the objects, most are replicas and a few are real! Allyson is super cool and allows me to work independently, reorganizing the collection however I see fit. Another thing I’m working on is researching possible sponsors for the International Student Reception that is happening in the fall. I’m trying to find suitable sponsors that could help host the reception in the fall but also be something that could help international students in the long run, whether it be a homestay or a possible place to apply for an internship. I will then pass along the names of possible sponsors to the women who are organizing the reception. I also help with general department needs, whether it is setting up a classroom workshop or just waiting in the lobby to spot any incoming school groups. I’ve been doing a variety of things, all of which give me a small tidbit of the variety of things that the department accomplishes every day.

 

A another perk of the summer internship at the museum is that I am able to be a part of the Intro to Museum Practices program, which include weekly lectures with different departments within the museum from Archives to Development. Its cool and inspiring to hear from current museum professionals talk about their jobs.

 

It’s been amazing to intern in Learning Programs, I’ve seen and learned so much and I’m only 2 weeks in! I’m excited for the weeks to come and will come back to write more about my experiences with Public Programs when I start that.

If you want to check out the museum here’s the website: www.penn.museum

**They have cool summer events happening all the time, especially Weds at 8PM where the museum is open late and they have live music playing the courtyards, check it out!**