Working at the museum this summer has been a wealth of experiences that have given me new perspectives, and a broader knowledge of collections work. It has both complimented and advanced what I have learned in my post-secondary, museum studies, education. The best thing I can say about this job as a collection assistant is that it is always interesting! I have loved getting to dig deep into an artifact’s history. Who made it? Who owned it? Why is it relevant to us in the County of Lennox and Addington today? Getting to spend a summer researching the most interesting artifacts in a collection has been incredible!
This opportunity has also made me more aware of exactly what I want to do in the museum world. A lot of this specific knowledge has come from watching the other employees of the museum, who were always happy to answer my questions and ready to share a few words about their jobs with me. Through the few times I got to help at the Allan Macpherson House I was surprised to learn that I wouldn’t want to be the person implementing programs every day, I am definitely a behind the scenes kind of girl! So I know I am on the right track focusing on collections work. One of the best things about this job was getting to put into practice skills I learned during the school year, such as artifact description and numbering. A skill I have definitely improved upon during my time here is artifact photography. One artifact that stands out in my mind was a gramophone that was quite difficult to photograph, but through the equipment available and skills I had worked on, came a photograph that I am pretty proud of!
During my time at the museum I have come to have a particular fondness for a few artifacts. The first of which is a natural history diorama that holds an American red squirrel, a short billed dowitcher, and an American bittern. This artifact was found in the collection and is now believed to be one of the earliest artifacts collected by the Lennox and Addington Historical Society. I got to catalogue this artifact as well as write the object’s story. This gave me the opportunity to not only practice the skills I’d been learning but to also learn a little more about the ecology of the County of Lennox and Addington. Who knew that the Napanee Plains were such as hot spot for migratory shore birds! There is also a little silver baptismal cup that I can’t help mentioning. The thing that originally interested me about the artifact was that it had very clear hallmarks that allowed the artifact to be located and dated quite precisely, I couldn’t wait to tell the story of how these hallmarks could be read. However, this artifact was extremely frustrating as well, it has an inscription indicating that the cup was given by Gilbert Parker to his godchild, and while it was easy to find out who Gilbert Parker was, I spent hours trying to find a record of who his godchild was. Needless to say, none were found. Working with both these artifacts taught me that sometimes the answers are there and sometimes they just aren’t and that’s okay, no matter what, every artifact has an interesting story to tell, even if it’s just how to read it’s hallmarks!
I have no doubt that the experiences I have gained working at the Lennox and Addington County Museum will help me with both my final year of museum studies as well as my future in the industry. The lessons I have learned here will stick with me going forward and I have gained a large respect for every person that makes such a great museum what it is. Though I know I’ve only touched on a small portion of all the parts of this museum, I feel like I’ve learned so much from the people here. I know now more than ever that I have found an amazing field to work in.