Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology News
Folk Studies Students Reflect on Summer Internship Experiences in Three Area Museums
- Monday, September 11th, 2023
This past week, four students in the Folk Studies MA and Folklore Minor programs presented their reflections on their internship experiences in three different museums in Bowling Green and the surrounding region. Each described the skills they gained and the ways in which these experiences contributed to and even expanded their career goals and plans.
Alexandra Truesdell, a History Major, served as a Collections Intern at the Kentucky Museum as part of her Folklore Minor, supported by a WKU Research and Creative Activities Program (RCAP) grant obtained by Registrar and Collections Curator Sandy Staebell. She assisted Staebell with preparing for the “Stitches in Time” exhibition which opened at the Kentucky Museum on September 1. Her work included helping to select objects from the collection, conducting archival research, and writing interpretive labels and text. She reflected, “I believe I gained extensive familiarity with the practices of collections cataloging and storage, curatorial design and planning, textile handling and conservation, and museum management procedures and software.”
Folk Studies MA student Katie Bennett also interned at the Kentucky Museum, supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for the digitization of the museum’s folk art collection. She assisted Luce Term Curator Reagan Petty in various aspects of the digitization project, including photographing objects; researching data on the artists, donors, and art forms; and updating and entering data. According to Katie, “the Folk Art internship at the Kentucky Museum afforded me a whole new set of skills and strengthened previously acquired ones.”
Cori Cox, who is completing her MA in Folk Studies with a concentration in Historic Preservation, interned with the Simpson County Historical Society and History Center, which serves the Franklin area as an archive, museum, library, and community meeting space. She provided tours, developed an outline for volunteer tour guides to use as they familiarize themselves with the many exhibits and objects, created activities for visiting school children, and renovated one of the museum’s single case exhibits. She said, “I greatly enjoyed my time in Franklin, KY as it taught me about community involvement and gave me hands on experience in multiple roles that help a museum run smoothly.”
Folk Studies MA student Justin Smith interned with the African American Museum of Bowling Green. He assisted with aspects of the museum’s ongoing work in the recovery from the fire that followed the December 2021 tornados, leading to their recent reopening. His experiences included assisting museum Project Manager Wathetta Buford with the design and clean-up of the space prior to the Grand Reopening event and meeting with and assisting the museum board. Justin reflected on this opportunity to engage with his interests in African American history and cultural preservation, noting that the experience “stimulated my creativity, my administrative skills, and my love for researching the experiences of others.” This educational opportunity was supported through a grant the museum received from Rotary.
In addition to the four students who presented their work on September 6, two other students completed internships supported by an RCAP grant obtained by Brent Bjorkman, Director of the Kentucky Museum and Kentucky Folklife Program. Folklore Minor and History JUMP student Logan Johnson and Folk Studies MA student Ciara Bernal both assisted with research for the upcoming Southcentral Kentucky Music exhibit, a joint project of the Kentucky Folklife Program, Kentucky Museum, and the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology.
Both the Master of Arts and Folklore Minor programs in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology provide students with a grounding in the field of folklore studies and the skills and preparation for a wide range of careers.
For more information about both programs, contact Ann K. Ferrell, Associate Professor and Folk Studies Program Director: email@example.com.