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Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Posts Tagged ‘Summer Students’

Reflecting on my Summer

Posted on: August 31st, 2019 by Anna Irwin

By Jordan Sheffield, Archives Summer Student

Working in the Chilliwack Museum and Archives this summer has been a fantastic experience, full of interesting challenges, and learning opportunities.  This cannot be truer than in my experiences in working on the two exhibits that took up an enormous amount of my work at the archives, the first being the Five Faces, Five Corners: The Social Experience of Chilliwack’s Downtown, and the second being my own mini exhibit, A Day with the Doctor.  These two displays were different for all manner of reasons (scope, involvement, budget, time and even more that I cannot hope to list), so reflecting on the means and ends of both displays over the past couple days has been interesting and something I thought I might share. The whole experience in both exhibits has been fantastic and has certainly given me a greater appreciation for the odd complexities and issues that curators have to face when putting together a display they can feel pride in.

For some context, I joined the museum and archives staff at just about the most chaotic time possible, exhibit changeover.  Entering into my first few days the changeover of the temporary gallery was already well under way.  Anna, our curator, had already been working on the exhibit preparations for months before any actual work on the gallery itself began.  I took part in detail painting, putting up the vinyl text segments and photographs (basically giant stickers), cleaning, aligning lighting (being 6’7” certainly helped with that), mount-making, as well as working with artifacts that were being put on display.  The work was often very detail-oriented and forced me to take into account problems that I wouldn’t have considered prior; paint for example, needs to sit and off-gas once applied to plinths before they can be used. With all this said the exhibit came together wonderfully and made for an amazing introduction to the job.

Having come from helping out in the Five Corners exhibit, I had a small inkling of what I was in for when designing my own exhibit.  The first step was deciding on the topic I would be working on. I started looking into advertising as a possible exhibit topic, but I ended up going with my second idea: medicine. Once the idea was given the go-ahead, I needed to learn just how much could go into the case and which artifacts best highlighted what I wanted to discuss.

Greek Tear Vases; 1957.019.052a-b; [photo by Jordan Sheffield]

The first significant cut came to a small section on one of the most unusual aspects about the doctor: his collecting. Dr. McCaffrey regularly collected objects from around the world, including a pair of Greek tear vases from ~500 BCE. During the early phase of research, I had been worried about not having enough text or objects. Suddenly, I had too much and needed to reduce and refine the content! Once I had an idea of the space I was working with, things finally started to fall into place. 

Finalizing drafted labels was another challenge in the exhibition development process! For the most part, this involved formatting and reducing the size of my labels to make sure that the labels and text were easy to read and the text was able to be read by visitors of all ages. This had brought me nearly to the end of my exhibit now as most of the major thinking had already been completed and what I had left to do was to put all the final pieces together into one cohesive whole.  After all the build up to reach this point, the final stages almost felt underwhelming – it’s amazing how quickly an exhibit comes together once all the pieces have been pre-crafted. While the previous steps had taken weeks of work, the final step (the actual mounting of the exhibit) was done in a day. It was an odd feeling when the case was locked, with artifacts beyond my reach, because it had matured from a simple draft on the back table to fully finished. Once it had settled in that the project was fully done, I felt an enormous relief and pride that it was all complete!

A Day with the Doctor display at the Chilliwack Archives; [Photo by Anna Irwin]

Summer at the Museum

Posted on: August 17th, 2016 by Stephanie Clinton

By Kelsey Ablitt, Education and Engagement Assistant, Summer 2016

Its almost difficult to grasp that my time at the museum is coming to an end in just two short weeks. These past few months have been filled with new experiences and a lot of learning. I learned about the work that goes into running a museum, how to research at the archives, what education at a museum looks like, that elastic bands can be kept in the fridge and the best way to get a dew worm to move in a race.

 

Busy at Party in the Park, the theme was Community of Villages this week.

Busy at Party in the Park, the theme was Community of Villages this week.

One of my biggest projects this summer was to revamp the Discovery Bins. These bins were designed to be themed and filled with interactive things for children to play with. Initially, I didn’t think that sprucing up these bins would take nearly as much time or work as they ended up taking. As I took a look at the different material in them, I found myself coming up with new themes to organize them into, different artifacts to add to them and new interactive worksheets to make for them. This was easily my biggest and most time consuming task of the summer, however I can’t help but feel accomplished when I see kids enjoying the history and artifacts that the bins provide. Redoing these bins taught me about how things that may seem simple, actually had a lot of hard work put into them. Not only did I have to make sure my facts were correct and my themes relevant, I also had to constantly consider if they were kid friendly and that means being accessible to a wide age group. This means including things that toddlers or children just learning to read can interact with as well as something a bit more in-depth that will interest older children.

 

Another important aspect of my position this summer was helping with the different outreach events. Our main outreach event was Party in the Park, every Friday night in July. My job was to plan a craft for kids to do when they stopped by our booth. I desired to make the crafts relevant to the history of Chilliwack as much as I could. To do so, I chose a different theme from Chilliwack’s history to focus on for each Friday. To help share the historical love even more, I created a poster full of images and facts on the themes. I found these posters to be quite useful when kids were busy doing the crafts, as it gave parents something to read. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from outreach, its that your crafts need to be interesting but quick. There are usually lots to see and do at events like Party in the Park, therefore not only do the kids have a shorter attention span, their parent also does not want to be at the same booth for a long period of time.

 

Pretty in Pink, the things you find in a museum!

Pretty in Pink, the things you find in a museum!

In between the major tasks of this summer, my time was filled with many other little projects. I was able to sit in on meetings, give my input on the various goings on in the museum, help with school programs and much more. There was never a dull moment, I was always learning something new about the history of Chilliwack or what it takes to get a printer to print what you want (and in a timely fashion). Despite how thankful I am for all the things I have learned and the level of accomplishment I felt when finishing projects, my favourite part of the whole summer was the new friendships I have gained. The museum is filled with so many colourful and caring people, from the staff to the volunteers. I have loved getting to know the volunteers and seeing their interest in Chilliwack’s history. I have loved being able to get to know the staff and learn of the amazing things they have accomplished and all the exciting ideas they have for the museum, they are all extremely inspiring people. However, I cannot help being extremely thankful for Stephanie, she taught me something new nearly everyday and constantly encouraged me. She gave me freedom with creativity, she was extremely patient with me and was always there to give helpful input. The experience that Stephanie and the museum has provided me is something I will always be grateful for and I cannot wait to put what I have learned to use in the future.