To Teach the Future about the Past: Museum Education Internship

I wrote the following piece about an internship I completed in the summer of 2014 for the Grove City College History department webpage. You can read the original piece here and you can learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum here. And if you’re interested in pursuing an internship in the museum field, you can check out my blog where I share information about museum internships.

This summer, I had the opportunity to serve as the Museum Education Intern at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. For nine weeks, I had the chance to experience the behind-the-scenes work of museums while completing several projects for the museum’s education department. The summer held a wealth of learning opportunities and unexpected surprises, such as shopping for muskrat pelts, holding snails and drawing sharks for 7-year-old boys.
The Maritime Museum is located on the waterfront of the Miles River, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, America’s largest estuary, on the eastern shore of Maryland. The Maritime Museum is dedicated to sharing the unique culture of the Chesapeake Bay region, which has been shaped by the shipbuilding and seafood industries that have dominated the region. It is a unique museum in that it is made up of 12 historic buildings scattered across an 18-acre waterfront campus that includes docks lined with historic wooden boats, a 19th-century lighthouse and a working boat yard.
My foremost responsibility throughout the summer was helping to run a half-day children’s camp at the museum. Camp was held out and about the grounds of the museum campus, playing games, doing crafts and visiting exhibits related to different themes from Chesapeake Bay history and ecology. This provided me with great experience in learning how to interact with young children and coming up with interesting ways to engage kids in learning.
In addition to working with this camp, I worked on several independent projects designed to make the museum more appealing to the children who visit. My biggest project was developing a Family Activity Backpack for families with preschool-age children to use around the museum. I also put together touch baskets containing objects to engage the attention of children in school tour groups that visit the museum. My favorite project, however, was creating online newsletters to send to teachers featuring information about different history or science topics relating to the Chesapeake Bay. I gained experience in writing, research, and graphic design, as well as delving into topics I never before would have researched, such as the evolution of boats used by watermen throughout America’s history.
Overall, the internship program was a wonderful experience to do independent work in a supportive environment with colleagues who desire to give interns the best experience possible. In addition to the education internship, the museum offers a curatorial internship and a public relations/events internship every summer.
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