Monday, July 26, 2010

Last day at the museum

Today was the last day with MMM. It was bitter sweet. I said my farewells to everyone that works and volunteers here. Sad to move on but ready for the next step. I did take some pictures of the Heavy Metal exhibit that I helped with and will post those soon for those interested.

Whats next for me? Well, the only thing standing in the way of completing my Masters of Arts in History degree is completing my thesis. I can't really say I have "just my thesis left." because its not JUST a thesis, but a fairly substantial amount of time/research/work ahead of me.

Have a nailed down a topic? Maybe. I have been looking online alot for possibilities. Obviously I interned at a maritime museum because I am interested in history on the high seas, specifically early in America's history. I do have a lead on a collection of documents from a privateering vessel during the American Revolution that has not been written on. I will be digging a little deeper but it appears to be a good lead.

Its been a pleasure writing this blog and I hope those of you that have read it enjoyed it as well. Again, I will post pictures of the exhibit soon. Thanks again! -Ryan

Friday, July 23, 2010

I must have caught the museum moving crud!

The final week is now over and I have one work day left. Today I was feel under the weather, and after being there for 8 weeks and not missing one day, I finally got the bug. I suppose I'm allowed one sick day in that time frame? :)

Recap of the week though: The BIW saga continues, more plans, more plans, more plans. Each hull represents a different vessel that we have gone through. I have organized different shelves to house various numbers of vessels. One shelf has BIW hulls 1-25 (which are all done and sorted), one shelf has BIW hulls 26-40 (now all done) and have now moved to a third shelf, BIW hulls 41-65. It is slowing filling up and we are nearing 2,500 plans completed in the finding aid!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last full week at MMM

Well, this is my last full week at MMM as a 2010 summer intern. Its really flown by. The BIW project is still in full swing and its what I have been working on since the Portland Harbor Museum move (glad thats over!). Some cleanup from the move is still being conducted, but I'm back to work on the project I was hired for. We are making some good progress and have now covered over 2,000 plans total. Keep in mind, these plans are over 100 years old, brittle, tough to work with and after being rolled up for that long, do not like to stay open to pull information on them!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Moving Moving...

Again, another extremely busy week...

I may have mentioned it in the past but not long ago, the museum and Portland Harbor Museum in Portland, Maine merged. In reality, it was more like MMM swallowed up PHM. What happens when a museum closes or merges? Well, you have to go through their collections, box things up, and move them to your location.

Thats what we did all week. And it was hardly "fun." On top of the fun factor, its a sad thing to literally be packing an entire museum up into boxes and locking its doors. PHM did have a maritime message and was full of maritime artifacts so many of the things that were found will be utilized at some point at MMM. However, many of the things it has has little to no use for MMM. What do you do with these things? You can't just throw out artifacts. To make matters much worse, if an item has been accessioned, it has to be maintained in a certain collection. If you want to remove it, there is a de-accessioning process that all museums go through to remove items from a collection and it can be a hassle.

Did I mention MMM's collection space is already bursting out the seems with artifacts? The hallways in the basement and collection areas are not quite as wide anymore as museum furniture, exhibit stands, etc are literally everywhere. I'm sure this chaos will be sorted out sometime soon and MMM will find a place for everything.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The opening went great

Well, the members only opening on Friday night was a real hit. Roughly 80 people (I would guess) were in attendance and the feedback that the curatorial department received was VERY positive. All of the hard work has certainly paid off. From what the gift shop employees have said today, the guests over the weekend loved it.

Today, and probably the next couple of days are doing little tweeking things on the exhibit and cleaning up the mess we've made behind the scenes. Chris, the exhibit curator tells me that exhibits are typically planned about 3 years out, so he already has something on his plate for the next exhibit in roughly 6 months. He is certainly a busy man but what a job!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Heavy Metal? How about Heavy Lifting!

Wow, what a week. As some of you have read, we have been very busy at the museum setting up the exhibit that is due to open tonight for members and tomorrow, July 10th to the general public. I would have updated more but simply did not have time.

All of you have been to at least one museum at some point, I'm sure. You have NO idea how much work goes into setting up an exhibit. Nothing comes in a pretty package delivered to the museum and is put on a stand with its pre-packaged sign. The exhibit curator and his staff (typically borrowed help from other departments and interns, like myself) are building everything from scratch. Some prep work goes into the process but only so much can be done with limited space in storage, etc. You have two weeks (in most museums from what I've gathered) to completely dismantle an exhibit and get the new one up. With 4-5 people, this is no easy task.

The process: Last week the old exhibit was taken down. They always go down much quicker than they go up. I did not really help with the tear down, that was fairly easy and happened in about two days. After that, it was ALOT of heavy lifting. To complicate things, it has been extremely warm here in Maine the last two weeks, some days into the 90s which is abnormal. So the old exhibit went down, and the process of moving the artifacts, stands, bases, wall mounts, etc around and in their place. Even the simplest thing like mounting a label on the wall is a process. Its all about presentation! Measuring every bit and even mounting wooden spacers on the wall to attach the label to so it has a "floating" look to it is required. The exhibit is entitled "Heavy Metal" and is about marine propulsion. I will post pictures of it soon but there are countless outboard and inboard engines (some big, some small), props, etc. Some of these pieces are several hundred pounds and we are reduced to ancient egyptian style moving with blocks, rollers, etc to get them around without tearing the place down.

The exhibit is open to the members at 5:30 and what do you know, we actually finished early! By about 3:30 pm we put the last label up and cleaned the last thing and its ready to be shown off and looks great. Hard work well done!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quiet day at the museum

Well, I hope you all had a great 4th of July. I ended up going to Boston to visit my brother for the weekend. As you can imagine, the city was a zoo. I mean, its 4th of July weekend and you truly can't be in a cooler place than Boston, Mass. We ran around town quite a bit and every time we got off the T, there were parades and festivities everywhere. I did not end up staying for any fireworks because I needed to get back to Maine to be at work today (Monday).

Today was very quiet at the museum. All full time staff has the day off because of the holiday. Chris, the exhibit curator was in to continue to work on the exhibit. My fiance, Charlene, is coming to visit for the week on Tuesday, so I thought I would work today and take a day off while she is here. The quiet, slow day gave me a chance to work on the BIW plans project a bit more undisturbed.

Lately I have been hacking away at BIW Hull #39 which is the Battleship 'Georgia'. I believe it was the only battleship BIW built and there are a TON of plans. Well over 1,000 plans. The organization at present is sporadic at best but I have been getting through them slowly. Hopefully I can make a dent in these before I leave, as I only have 3 weeks left at the museum.

Fireworks in Bath, Maine tonight. Looking forward to it!