Jack Burcroff - Grand Rapids Public Museum Intern
I did all sorts of things for the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I sometimes helped by going out to collect item donations, deaccessioning items, organizing archives, setting up for museum school classes, and odd projects. However, I spent most of my time cataloging and researching new artifacts for the collection, and wrote a couple dozen pages for the archive's website. My favorite project involved an early 1900s camera that was received as a donation. It came with no documentation and still had a photo negative in it. Through some engravings on the lens casing, I was able to track it to a small photography supply shop in Grand Rapids and figure out roughly when it was sold and learned a good deal about the owners. Another aspect I enjoyed was finding interesting pieces along the way. Towards the end of my internship, I helped the outgoing planetarium director organize several decades worth of materials. Among the cache was a newspaper clipping describing how the planetarium staff helped solve a criminal case by using the reflection of the sun in the background of a baseball game home movie to estimate within a few minutes the time the game took place. This ended up destroying a serial criminal's alibi and finally got him convicted.
Overall, I loved the experience. Besides getting to poke around in massive warehouses full of all kinds of historical artifacts and hone my history skills, the staff was truly excellent. Everyone was polite and respectful to me, and allowed and trusted me to do actual work; not once was I asked to get coffee or anything like that. Moreover, they helped me with some research relevant to a couple of my classes and even gave me some material for a historical article I eventually got published. As if that weren't enough, I got a free year's membership at the museum and got to see some exhibits before they opened to the public. I would definitely recommend the experience.
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