This past summer and fall, I completed my internship at the Baseball Heritage Museum. This was a fantastic year for the museum, especially with Cleveland hosting the all-star game. The all-star game really put the museum in the spotlight for all to see. I got to work with amazing artifacts dealing with Baseball history. The museum gave me a chance to explore and sharpen my museum skills. My internship at the Baseball Heritage Museum was a fantastic experience, where I learned amazing skills and got an opportunity to work on projects.
The museum wanted to make their photographic collection more accessible to the public. The museum’s idea for making the photographs more accessible was to digitize the collections and upload them to a database. Working with Assistant Curator Ricardo Rodriguez, we began to digitize the museum’s photo collection. Being at a small museum, we did not have the capability to complete such a large project, so we had to use the digitization lab at the Cleveland Public Library. Rodriguez taught me how to work the digitization equipment. He showed me how to photograph the artifacts correctly and how to label them in the computer system to make it easier to group the photos. One goal of this project is creating a web database for people to access and find pictures. An additional goal was to copy pictures in the collection so we can print off copies of the picture to show in the museum because the museum does not have UV protection on the windows. Doing this will allow us to save the original photos.
We digitized over 500 photos and artifacts in the collection, and the project is still an ongoing process. After digitizing over 500 photos and artifacts, the second part of the project is to upload them to PastPerfect. PastPerfect has made it really simple just to upload the pictures and artifacts. Director Bob Zimmer has been really helpful with the digitalization project. Zimmer has helped us identify artifacts and who donated them to the museum. This is helpful when entering the artifacts into the database.
Another project I worked on with Rodriguez was an exhibit installation of stadium chairs from the 1909 stadium. There are only five chairs from the 1909 stadium still around today. Zimmer and board members are very excited for this exhibit to be installed. The museum was lucky because these chairs were donated to it. Rodriguez and I had to reuse a stand to set the chairs on. They had to be repainted. Then we added vinyl to the box. The vinyl siding was the same color as the chairs. The siding had an art-deco design to give the exhibit a splash of color. We added photos of the chairs in the exhibit. The photos showed what the chairs looked like in 1909 and where the chairs were located in the stadium. To finish off the exhibition, we placed a glove from 1909 on the seats. On the glove, we placed an autographed baseball to make it look like the glove caught the ball. This exhibit will be revealed to the public on December 14.
My internship taught me skills that can and will help me get a job in the museum field. One skill I learned was how to identify and log artifacts in PastPerfect accurately. This is not a hard skill to learn; it is simple to learn. But people just do not want to take the time to learn these skills. I am not a master at working with PastPerfect, but I can work it well enough that I feel confident adding it to my CV. Another skill I was able to sharpen during my internship was my public speaking skills. Public speaking is an important skill to have in the museum field.
Public speaking has been a weakness of mine but working as a docent part of the time allowed me to work on my public speaking. I think public speaking is essential to the museum field because we deal with people daily. Working as a docent was fun for me because it allowed me to interact with the guests. Working as a docent was enjoyable because it allowed me to hear guest stories about League Park. The stories you hear from the guests are amazing. The best story I heard was from this lady whose first game was after the color barrier was broken. She and her father got to see the great Larry Doby play. I think stories like this are amazing.
Working at a small museum, I learned about working on a shoestring budget. I think working on a budget is a helpful museum technique to have. Many small museums have a small budget and cannot afford to buy everything needed to function. Because of budget limitations, I learned how to reuse stuff for the exhibit. We used curtain rods to display our photos in exhibitions because we do not have money to buy picture stands. I think learning to recycle old objects for the museum is the best skill I have learned during my internship. Another skill I learned was how to adapt to the unknown. Working in a historic building owned by the city created limitations. One limitation we faced at the museum was that we were not allowed to put nails in the wall. To get around this limitation, we would staple Velcro straps to the wall and use them to hang up pictures.
My internship at the Baseball Heritage Museum was a fantastic learning experience for me. I learned some tremendous skills during my internship that I can take with me into the job market. There were some good and bad moments during my internship. Both the good and bad were great learning experiences. The objectives I worked on and finished have given me a sense of pride. I think the skills I have learned have made me more competitive in the job market. The internship has given me more confidence that I belong in the museum field and can do the work.