By Clare Kennedy, MMC Intern
It’s hard to believe it, but my time as an intern at the OCM has come to a close. The past four months have flown by, and I feel that I have gained valuable experience here that I will take with me as I continue my journey into the heritage field.
One of the projects that I have enjoyed during my time at the museum has been reading and analyzing letters from the late nineteenth century that were sent to Thomas Henry. Through the letters, I have had the privilege of encountering history in a more personal way than many people. These letters revealed complex family relationships and attitudes that have piqued my curiosity, and I hope that someone finds more documents associated with the Henry family, so I can learn more about their joys and struggles. This project has been rewarding for me because my research will help with the writing of an upcoming publication by the museum.
Working at the Oshawa site this summer has provided me with a number of other exciting learning opportunities. One valuable experience was attending the Archives Association of Ontario conference, which was held locally. This allowed me to discover more about the relevance of archival work, the different struggles that archivists face, and strategies they use to deal with these challenges. I also attended outreach activities, including a couple of workshops for the upcoming Reflections of Oshawa exhibit, and the local Swing into Summer event. These events were useful because I got to see how museums build relationships with community groups, as well as how museums promote themselves as public events. Another opportunity I have had is developing collections management experience, which sounds a bit boring, but is something that I have come to find very rewarding.
Programming is not a particular area of interest for me (I tend to enjoy curatorial and archival work more), but I still was able to get a taste of this important facet of museum work. By watching an educational program in action, I have learned some strategies that the programming staff use to engage children. I have even given a few tours of the museum, and rediscovered my interpretation skills, which have been lying dormant since my high school volunteering days at Lang Pioneer Village.
Overall, I have to say that my time at the OCM has given me a truly well-rounded experience in museum work. In the end, I am glad that I chose a small site, because of the flexibility that it offered and the chance it gave me to interact with all of the wonderful staff at this museum. I will count myself very lucky to find another museum team that is as supportive as the OCM staff. Goodbye for now– it’s been a pleasure!