Organization: Chesapeake Maritime Museum, 2009
This summer, I had the great pleasure of spending ten weeks as the Folklife Intern at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michaels, Maryland. This job entailed helping to create the Chesapeake Folk Festival. My boss, Melissa McLoud, Director of the Center for Chesapeake Studies, did her best to keep me in the loop with as many details as possible.
I was intimately involved in programming decisions, design, and implementation of everything from narrative stages to exhibiting tradition bearers to film viewings and more. I had the privilege of speaking with and organizing tug boat captains, marionette makers, dip net makers, pound net fisherman, watermen of all kinds, and more. Interacting with these people as well as writing and editing the interpretive signage involved in the festival greatly increased my knowledge of traditional occupations and customs in the Chesapeake region, of which I thought myself quite familiar. A great deal of my internship involved creating, writing, and editing interpretive signage for the Folk Festival. This responsibility taught me quite a bit about graphic design programs such as Adobe InDesign and PhotoShop as well as printing and publishing interpretive material. I was also intimately involved in many of the more mundane, yet necessary aspects of running a folk festival such as mass mailings, W-9 forms, and purchase orders. I also got the privilege of working quite closely with a great deal of the museum staff. Given that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a fairly small museum, the staff works together in many ways that greatly eclipse their job descriptions when the need arises, which is sometimes daily.
In my opinion, the best part about the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is their working Boat Shop. They actively repair wooden boats and keep the tradition of shipwrights alive through a series of apprenticeship programs. After the festival successfully concluded, I helped with their current project of taking the wooden mast of a skipjack and refitting it for a crab skiff. I loved every minute of it.
Working as the Folklife Intern at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was an amazing experience that I would recommend to any student who wants to get a crash course in working in public sector folklore and running a folk festival. I learned more that I possibly could have imagined. I am eternally grateful for every smile and helping hand extended to me during my time there. The people, and the institution, itself are truly amazing.