This week was a little less history-oriented than I had hoped, but I got to see more of the details and smaller tasks that need to be done for a museum to run smoothly.
On Thursday, I spent all day looking for a wedding dress from the 1800s. A woman's great great grandma had donated her wedding dress for an exhibit the museum did in 1995 called "Threads of Tradition." There were about 10 dresses in the exhibit and this woman wanted to see her great great grandma's dress to show her daughter. Unfortunately, in the move from the old building, the dress was misplaced. In addition, Chris and the other museum staff were not working for NHM back in 1995 so no one remembers anything about the dress. The old staff was very unorganized. I looked through donor files, exhibit files, and more and more files from the years 1994-1997 hoping to find any record that this dress existed! I cross referenced files with PastPerfect, and still nothing! I finally went down to the basement to look through boxes. I found one box full of the OTHER dresses that were in the exhibit. I looked through them and they were all accounted. There was one un-numbered dress. We aren't sure if this is the dress we're looking for, but at least I came up with something. While the hunt was frustrating, I got to see a lot about what the artifact donation process is like, from donor to exhibit to storage.
On Friday, I did less museum-y things and helped Chris install exhibit lighting. I did get to learn about how certain artifacts can only be exposed to certain kind of light, though. Even with the smaller, menial tasks I have to do as an intern, I learn about the little details. I know that lighting matters, and that shelves have to be lined, and how things are organized. I'm slowly getting a handle on the whole process and it's exciting!