Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Volunteer?

Being a student is stressful. Between class, homework, term papers and a job, one barely has time to sleep. Unfortunately, after all is said and done the student may not be ready to work in their chosen field. This is a dilemma I did not want to face. This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to work with two Arizona archaeological institutions, the Archaeological Research Institute at Arizona State University and Pueblo Grande Museum. Interning for ARI and volunteering with Pueblo Grande has been an awarding experience and given me an in depth look at the inner workings of collection management and display.
I graduated with a degree in art history from Arizona State University, and am currently working on a master’s degree in anthropology at New Mexico State University. During summer 2011, I wanted to acquire some hands on training in a museum environment for two reasons. First, this would help me to understand if this career path is the right one for me. Second, I would begin to develop practical knowledge in the work environment.
At the research institute I have been creating an exhibit with their Hohokam red-on-buff whole pot collection. Through a combination of research and perseverance I have completed my task. This internship was challenging and rewarding in that I learned some of the finer points of exhibit creation and installation. However, at the beginning of the summer I wanted to make sure I had a well rounded experience and asked Holly Young, the collections curator at Pueblo Grande Museum, if she had a volunteer opening that would fit my goal.
Working with the collections staff at Pueblo Grande had been an incredibly beneficial and rewarding experience. At the beginning, I thought I would just be working with a few pots moving them from one shelf to another; however, by the end of the summer I learned how to photograph artifacts, update a condition report and prepare storage space for pieces. I had no idea the amount of skills and experiences I would acquire during my short summer with them. Anyone interested in archaeology, museum studies or just love the museum and want to help out would benefit from the Pueblo Grande volunteer program.
Posted by Samantha Womack, Collections Summer Intern

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