My name is Peter McKenzie. I am an intern from Trent University, conducting an internship here at the Oshawa Museum. Having nearly completed my required 100 hours, I am able to reflect on my time here. Having majored in anthropology, and soon to be attending a museum curatorship program, the chance to work at a local museum immediately caught my interest. The staff have been very kind. Understanding my interest in museum studies, they have been accommodating enough to give me a broad experience of museum tasks, from accessioning fascinating artifacts to assisting with social media productions to designing small exhibits to guiding tours of the houses. Guiding the tours has become my absolute favourite experience at the museum (especially at Henry House). Getting dress up in nineteenth century attire, and lead groups through the houses, is an immersive and fun experience. Not only have I been able to learn so much more about Oshawa’s history, but I get to pass all that I’ve learned on to the museum’s guests. The Oshawa Museum has a wealth of interesting historical knowledge, a delightful charm, and a wonderful staff. I had an amazing time interning here, and know I’ll have to visit again soon!
When I was younger, my Dad would take my two brothers and I to exciting places in Toronto like the ROM, Casa Loma, the Science Centre and the Zoo. He would also take us to museums closer to home such as Pickering Museum Village, Lynde House, and the Oshawa Museum. I was so fascinated by the history, collections and culture of all these places at such a young age. When I was around 4 or 5 I told my parents that I wanted to be a “Museum Lady,” and it stuck.
I had dreams of becoming a number of things when I grew up such as fashion designer, a pastry chef, and even a marine biologist. Whenever I would tell people these dream careers I would always add “or I want to work in a museum.” I remember telling one of my tenth grade teachers I wanted to be a curator, she told me it was an uncommon career choice and she was surprised I even knew what a curator was. I happened to know what a curator was because while searching for post-secondary choices in a careers class, I stumbled across a program called Museum Management and Curatorship at Fleming College. This is the program that had my interest piqued as I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. All my education from that point on was focused on taking the Fleming program and working in a museum some day. I took all the history and arts electives in high school. I was accepted into Trent University where I completed a double major in History and Cultural Anthropology. I gained some experience by volunteering at the Peterborough Museum & Archives and Pickering Museum Village. Then, after taking a year off school, I attended Fleming College for their Museum Management and Curatorship (MMC) program.
The program is incredibly well-rounded, I learned all kinds of things I never even thought about, such as how to properly research for an exhibit, how to care for a collection, museum math (not as bad as real math), and so much more. I get to put all that learning to use this summer as I complete my internship at the Oshawa Museum where I’ll be helping with collections management, digitization, developing the upcoming exhibit and many other projects!