UAM Summer Internship Blog 2022: A Fond Farewell

The 2022 UAM Summer Internship has come to an end! Read about Zoe's last few projects and how she wrapped the summer.

Happy fall semester everyone! My summer internship with UAM has come to an end—as all good things do—so I’m back for one last blog entry to wrap up my experience. I’ve already shared a bit about myself, challenged my expectations of museum work, explained my favourite project of the summer, and written all about public art conservation. Now that I’m back in classes and ready to finish the last year of my undergraduate degree, I’ve had some time to reflect on the internship and the valuable lessons I’ve learned over the past few months. 

August was a whirlwind of activity as we finished off some major projects that have been in the works. I was super excited to lend a hand to the Print Study Centre VR Tour, helping UAM Art Collection curator Nadia Kurd and communications and marketing manager Jill Horbay take 360º photos of one of the coolest spots for object-based learning on campus. I also had the opportunity to sit in for interviews with UAMAC collections assistant Tom Hunter and visual artist and Faculty of Arts lecturer April Dean while they talked about the value of such an incredible resource here at the U of A. 

My last stop on this wonderful, wild ride was the basement of the Biological Sciences building, home to the Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology and the best place to find the Dino Lab’s chief technician Clive Coy. Although you’ll have to wait patiently to see the final product this winter, I can tell you that we were fortunate enough to investigate fossil samples that dated back to renowned paleontologist George F. Sternberg’s 1920/21 expeditions in Alberta’s Dinosaur Park formation. Along with moveable cultural property advisor Jennifer Bowser, we performed conservation and rehousing processes on 100-year-old newspaper, then photographed the wrapped and unwrapped specimens and historic tools for future preservation. 

One of the most rewarding parts of this internship has been meeting all of these phenomenally talented and interesting people who work with museum collections and the greater UAM network. Whether it was an afternoon at the U of A Botanical Gardens with Mactaggart Art Collection curator Isabel Pi-Fen Chueh and curatorial assistant Sarah Spotowski to promote Peonies in Bloom, or a day in the office learning about databases with collections management advisors Emily Beliveau and Katherine Mallalieu, the people I met through this internship were fundamental to shaping my experiences. They were generous enough to share their professional journeys and insights with me, not to mention creating a safe, welcoming environment for me to gain confidence in my knowledge and skills. Thanks to their guidance I feel like I’ve finally found my niche pursuing a career in museums. 

So what’s next for your 2022 UAM summer intern? This summer I was exposed to a variety of aspects of museum practice: exhibition design and installation; curation and collections-based research; conservation and object/specimen preparation; community engagement and public programming; collections and information management; and exploratory research into recent progress and innovations in museology. In reflecting on this internship, I’ve realized that I’m much more passionate about education and community engagement than I expected. Teaching others is a great way to solidify your own knowledge of a topic, so as an enthusiastic learner I enjoy the process of learning a new skill or concept in order to explain it better. As well, this experience has allowed me to explore the field of conservation and discover my aptitude for curation. I plan to pursue these interests in my final undergrad year and in the next stage of my journey: a master’s degree in human ecology studying material culture here at the U of A. 

As cliche as it sounds, this internship was truly a life-changing experience for me. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work for UAM and its fantastic staff, helping to preserve, maintain, and exhibit museum objects and specimens for future study. I highly recommend this program for any students interested in applying their coursework in a hands-on, supportive environment. Check this page for more information on the UAM Student Internship and sign up for updates from the UAM newsletter to stay updated on events, exhibitions, and programs! 

Did you know: You can view current museum display locations offered by the U of A Museums on a convenient map online! See the map, access availability, and other important collection information on this page