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“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” ~Frank Herbert

December 16, 2016

A long overdue post in which I offer jumbled thoughts about my internship. There’s no time to edit; I just need to get some words down. I can’t promise they will be coherent or interesting! Yesterday, I closed a very fulfilling chapter in my career as a historian: my internship in the curatorial department of the Worcester Art Museum. This was my decision; I would have loved to continue, but I now need to focus on finishing this dissertation of mine. This weekend, our revamped medieval galleries will open, and I will finally see the many projects that I contributed to, and one interactive display that I conceptualized (if you visit, look for the map of medieval trade routes!), brought to life by our design team. I’m unbelievably excited about this, I’ve even been dreaming about the big reveal! (in one dream we sold potato chips in the galleries, but don’t get your hopes up – I don’t imagine medieval art and Doritos mix very well.).

15542083_10154772123228834_709736722055916403_nI’ve had conflicting feelings about this internship. I’ve loved the work that I’ve done, and I’ve learned so much about curating, conservation, and producing interpretive and educational content for a broad audience (in contrast to my extremely narrowly focused dissertation work). My goal was to gain experience, and this I’ve accomplished. I’m hoping that this internship might be the start of something big for me – maybe, just maybe, my dream museum job will come along in the near future, and having a doctorate in combination with this internship will be enough for me to be a serious contender (I don’t have a museum studies degree that many jobs require, and the idea of committing to MORE schooling…oy. I just can’t do that anymore). But at times, I’ve been frustrated because this internship took valuable time away from my dissertation, and it was a nonpaying gig – and because we had to pay for our babysitter on museum days, we ended up operating at a loss. But I viewed this as a short-term loss for a longterm gain. Would I have been much further ahead in my own work if I hadn’t seized this opportunity? Definitely. Finished, no, but I would certainly have had more chapters completed, and the road up ahead might be a little smoother and less riddled with anxiety.

But my days at the Museum were an escape from my daily stresses. This was a chance to immerse myself in medieval history without having to grade any essays or wrestle with syllabi or deal with hostile teaching evaluations. It was a chance to learn about the museum world, something I knew nothing about. And it was a chance to contribute my ideas, language, and expertise to a permanent exhibit – my work will be there forever, or at least until the next gallery revamp (considering this last happened in the 1950s, I’m pretty sure this new iteration will stay around for a while!). So do I have regrets? Not one.

I ended my internship the way I began it: polishing a full suit of armor (a reproduction of fifteenth century combat gear) for my supervisor to wear for this weekend’s festivities. But this time, as an added bonus, I got to wear it! It took two people to get me kitted out (yes, squires are an absolute necessity!). And it was painful! I could feel it crushing the vertebrae in my lower back. Walking was pretty tough. But this is, apparently, a right of passage for every intern, and so wear it I must!

This whole experience was, above all, unforgettable. It’s back to the books now, in a race to finish up this dissertation by the end of the academic year. It’s time to focus ALL of my time and energy  on writing, which is (happily!) also something that I love to do.

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