Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh

Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh is a consortium of local museums, galleries and archives working together to share information and expertise, and foster collaboration in research, teaching, and public engagement.

Here, at the HAA Constellations blog, you can read about some of the outcomes of these partnerships. Learn more about Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh at


Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh

  • Kendall in the Yayoi Kusama’s "Infinity Dots Mirrored Room" installation


    Development Difficulties: the Challenges of Working to Secure a Non-Profit’s Financial Future

    Author: Kendall Dunn, Mellon Museum Profession Fellow at the Mattress Factory – Summer 2018

    Over the summer of 2018, I worked in the Development Department of the Mattress Factory as an Mellon Museum Profession Fellow. Having served as an Education intern in the previous semester, I was generally familiar with the staff and offices of the museum. Transitioning from Education to Development, however, was definitely harder than I expected. Working in Development requires patience, determination, and focused work behind a computer, whereas museum Education is more creative and active work.  This fellowship gave me a better understanding of how valuable a development department is to any non-profit organization.

    Working full-time every day for three months, I got a taste of what it was like to be an employee at the Mattress Factory, managing a set of day-to-day duties and long-term projects. My daily tasks included donation requests, membership mailing, and filing. In addition to this administrative work, I was responsible for four larger projects throughout my fellowship.

    One of my first tasks as a Fellow was to write two Letter of Inquiries to two different foundations, requesting funding for the Mattress Factory. In order to create persuasive and informed letters I learned to write project proposals, which included conducting research, drafting budgets, and establishing funding plans.

    Secondly, I did a lot of work to prepare for the Mattress Factory's 40th Anniversary Auction. I was responsible for creating artist folders for each winning bidder at the auction. These folders contained a certificate of authenticity, the artist’s bio, CV, and a photograph and description of the artwork donated for auction. I attended all of the auction planning meetings and worked closely with the museum's Archivist. 

    My last project involved visitor experience surveys. This task included, conducting research on museum surveys, compiling a long list of potential survey questions for the Mattress Factory, and then going into the galleries and surveying visitors on a weekly basis. These surveys were designed to supply staff in the Development and Marketing Departments with inspiring visitor quotes for grant writing, social media platforms, and advertisements. 

    Each of these projects were time consuming and detail oriented in ways I found challenging, but I’m happy that I have experienced the ups and downs of a Development office. I want to pursue a career in the museum world and by working in a Development Department I have learned the importance of communication, patience, hard work, and teamwork to professional life at a non-profit organization. Every department of the museum relies on Development to get the job done. I left the Mattress Factory with a greater appreciation for non-profit organizations. Each employee's drive, passion, and hard work contributes to the museum's reputation and financial future. My fellowship experience at the Mattress Factory is something that I will cherish forever, as I jump further into my future career in the arts.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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  • One of the phocus group sessions at the Carnegie Museum of natural History


    Nile in Focus: Assessing Community Expectations for CMNH’s "Egypt on the Nile" Exhibition

    Author: Alec Story, Milton Fine Museum Profession Fellow at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Summer 2018

    When preparing for the installation of a new permanent exhibition, museums often assess the needs and assumptions of the communities they serve. For its upcoming gallery rework entitled Egypt on the Nile, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has been doing just that. Egypt on the Nile unites human and natural histories, a unique approach that differs from traditional Egypt-oriented galleries. The novelty of this concept necessitates properly gauging audience reactions to and receptions of the exhibition and its themes. Over the course of my summer fellowship I assisted curator Dr. Erin Peters in, among other things, the planning and execution of these community focus groups.

    Paramount to this process was recruiting participants from a wide variety of backgrounds: museum members, college students, K-12 educators, and senior citizens. Diverse groups were chosen in order to accurately represent the thoughts and feelings of those who visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

    Prior to the focus group meetings, we created prompts and questions that participants could respond to, and a session schedule to ensure we used our time effectively. Questions were designed to be open-ended, promote discussion, and to tease out valuable information on the proposed exhibition themes. During the focus group sessions we used an array of strategies including surveys, sticky notes, and open discussion to gather relevant information. The focus group environment allowed anyone, regardless of education or experience with Egypt, to come in and share their thoughts on one of the most famous cultures of all time.

    After the focus groups I was tasked with recording and synthesizing the data accumulated during each focus group. With this information the Egypt on the Nile team can even more successfully create an exhibit that both depicts all desired themes and does so in a way that is easily communicable to the public.

    This experience has allowed me to see how museums plan exhibits, how exhibits are constantly undergoing change and adjustment, and how cultural institutions interact with the community.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Inside Title Page of Sue’s Date Data Journal


    Where are the Children? Finding Sue in the Senator John Heinz History Center Archive

    Author: Brittney Knotts, PhD student in Critical and Cultural Studies in the Department of English and Making Advances Workshop participant

    Let me start by saying, I study children’s culture—but, I am not interested in the culture that adults assume children use or in the culture that we often attempt to thrust upon them. Rather, I am interested in what children do to shape and create culture. I am interested in how they write, converse, play, and work, as well as how they subvert a lot of the ideas handed to them by adults. Perhaps not surprisingly, the voices of actual children aren’t always the loudest in the archive. But, of course they aren’t—and this is what I expected. While parents may momentarily hold on to the art or writing of their children, or we may covet out our own childhood diaries and notes, what place do these voices occupy in archives that house important historical documents and rare texts?

    Because of this, when I took part in the University of Pittsburgh’s “Making Advances: Sex, Gender and the Politics of Images” workshop this summer I was ready to look at sex education guides from the 20th century, specifically those made for girls. I was not disappointed; Pitt’s University Library Systems have a great collection of sex and etiquette guidebooks and the Heinz History Center holds a fascinating record of the first implementation of sexual education in Pittsburgh public schools. I had all but given up on finding the voice of a child in a Pittsburgh archive.

    Enter the amazing archivists at the Senator John Heinz History Center. I seriously can’t say enough good things about the archives and archivists at the Thomas & Katherine Detre Library & Archives. First, the archives hold about anything you could think of related to Pittsburgh’s history. Second, the archivists are amazingly attentive. I started this workshop interested in sex education materials. Not only did the archivists have boxes pulled, but they also pulled a single box about a young Pittsburgh girl that they thought might be interesting. Since I am specifically interested in girlhood, the staff thought the memory books of a teenage girl would be of interest. And they were.

    The box was a donation by the Weiss family of albums and family memorabilia. Buried under a family album and a book of family trees, I found Sue Chottiner’s book of “date data” and (what appears to be) a briefly kept memory book spanning from 1956-1957. Sue appears to be a teenage girl at the time that she kept these notebooks. There is something special about holding someone’s past in your hands. The pages, which were never meant to be preserved for half a century, have begun to crumble and the folded papers taped or glued therein have started to fall out. This is how children can exist and be preserved in archives.

    The date book appears to be a mass-produced book with both blank pages and date review templates to fill out. The book provided Sue with prompts such as “This is where we met,” “Off-the-cuff comments,” and “Places where we’ve gone.” My favorite response to “off-the-cuff comments” was her assessment of her senior prom date, Jimmy, as “a great kid and good dancer.” Along with these blank writing spaces, there are check boxes offered to assess her date’s personality as well as “how he rates when it comes to dates.” For Jimmy, Sue checked off personality boxes for “jazzy dresser,” “good time Charlie,” and “big brain.” However, she did not rate him. It appears that Sue only used this book twice to keep data on her dating life.

    While her dating data book offers a snapshot of Sue’s dating life, her memory book gave an overview of a complex and social girl. Sue attended Emma Kaufmann Camp in 1953 (and potentially other years). From the camp she preserved a marriage certificate to Jimmy (yes, the same Jimmy from senior prom it appears), addresses of several friends, and a song book. She was active in the Jewish community, often keeping bulletins, song books, and memorabilia from her friends’ Bar Mitzvahs. She also documented her school life with schedules, notes from teachers, and awards and certificates she earned. Sue commemorated her life thoughtfully and with purpose. She took her work seriously, equal to any writer that we consider worthy of study.

    While I find these artifacts fascinating, piecing together Sue’s life is difficult. Her organization is counterintuitive to me, and I find her handwriting difficult to read at times (I imagine Sue would say the same about my organizational methods and handwriting). But I must remind myself that this writing isn’t for me. It was never meant to be. As Carolyn Steedman reminds us in her work on children’s story writing, we must “look for what the writing does for the writer, not what the writer does to it, nor what it does for us” (99). This is worth keeping in mind when thinking about the scrapbooks of Sue. She seems to have used these memory books for documenting her own life, for not only keeping track of her favorite moments but also for making a claim that she, in fact, was here.

    Now I wonder what other children may be whispering in archives, waiting for someone to discover their histories, their lives, their memories. Perhaps I may start to reconsider my own research objectives and the places my research may lead. Most importantly, the child must be at the forefront, and I must give them the space to speak.


    Steedman, Carolyn. The Tidy House: Little Girls Writing. Virago Press, 1987.

    Learn more about the Making Advances Workshop here

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  • At Rare Books and Special Collections in the Falk Library of Health Sciences


    The Body Performs: Anatomy Atlases and Early Modern Drama

    Author: Courtney Colligan, PhD student in Theatre and Performance Studies and Making Advances Workshop participant

    “Come, strumpet, famous whore! Were every drop / Of blood that runs in thy adulterous veins / A Life, this sword – dost see’t? – should in one blow / Confound them all.” Soranzo’s dragging of Annabella in an Early Modern “shaming” display in ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore uses specific bodily language to describe the desired action of the speaker. In many Early Modern and Restoration plays, specifically revenge tragedies, imagery of the body, of bodily anatomy, reflect the growth of scientific knowledge of the human form.

    But all of this may seem a bit obscure at the moment – let me rewind. I was honored to be part of the 2018 Making Advances workshop, focusing on performances of gender and identity on the Early Modern Stage. Aware that this research interest is quite focused, I entered the workshop with an open mind, focusing on broadening my other research areas of Museum Studies and contemporary performances of gender on stage. Yet on May 3rd, when the group visited Rare Books and Special Collections in the Falk Library of Health Sciences, my Early Modern geek-brain nearly exploded (an appropriate exaggeration as I did see engravings of semi-exploded brain). Original copies of Juan Valverde de Amusco’s Anatomia del Corpo Humano (1560), Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (1543/1555), and William Cowper’s The Anatomy of Humane Bodies (1737) exposed not only the inner-workings of the human body, but revealed the language spoken when describing bodies on the Early Modern and Restoration stage (which then continued into the 18th century). The descriptions used to describe the diagrams, the complex drawings, and the meticulous engravings were eerily familiar to certain phrases used in violent revenge tragedies like Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy or the above quote from John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Might the playwrights of this time have been familiar with these anatomy atlases?

    Yes. I must say that this discovery is not “new” but noted in scholarly works on Renaissance Drama. However, this discovery was entirely new to me, despite having taken many courses on Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedies, and the socio-political landscape of Early Modern England. Rather than allowing this discovery to sink into the easily defeated mindset of “ah, another scholar has already done it” I aim to use this knowledge to explore the actual physicality of the mutilated bodies on stage. Since this discovery, I have come to realize that many of the works on the relationship between anatomy atlases and Early Modern drama explore the history of the transmission of these texts or offer a literary analysis of the atlas and drama. Instead, I am interested in how the language used by Soranzo describing Annabella’s body was physicalized on the stage. Furthermore, as audiences of this time attended dissections of human bodies by the Barber-Surgeons, complete with stage design and blueprints, how might this type of medical theatre bleed (pun intended) into the works of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Webster? What relationships would an audience member who attended both performances see?

    The experience of the Making Advances workshop allowed me space to let my mind intellectually wander, to question, and to be surprised. Allowing individuals in higher education to explore and attend stimulating spaces outside of their main area feeds the human desire of curiosity and exploration. This in turn leads to the creation of new ideas and connections; by removing the burden of “being right” or producing knowledge to meet a deadline, I believe we all might find ourselves on new, but exciting paths forward.

    Learn more about the Making Advances workshop here

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  • Museum guest poses with work of art

    Museum guest poses with work of art.


    First Impressions: Attracting Museum Visitors Through Effective Web Design and Usability

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art – Spring 2018

    For many people visiting museums in the contemporary world, the first point of contact with a museum and its collections is not within the walls of the museum complex itself, but through the museum’s online presence. An individual’s decision on whether or not a museum is worth visiting is informed not only through word of mouth and reputation, but through Google (or any other search engine of choice). Review sites such Yelp and social media presence via platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are relevant to this discussion. Even more significantly, however, is the museum’s portrayal of itself on the official website. 

    In Spring 2018, I was a Museum Studies intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art, focusing on the museum’s online presence and improving outreach to audiences. Because website is likely the first platform on which museum goers are going to experience the Carnegie Museum of Art, it is crucial that the website constructs an image of the Carnegie Museum of Art that is both accurate and enticing. While this may seem like an obvious and overly simple goal, it is difficult to sustain a consist pubic image in a very active programming environment.  Because events and exhibitions come and go on a day-to-day basis, online representation must also reflect and synchronize with the series of events.

    Achieving accuracy and synchronicity with programming is related to another difficult goal—the intuitive usability of the website for visitors. Usability must anticipate the impulses and cognitive patterns of online visitors. This means that a good website must reflect the associations that most people—literally the majority—form in their mind, anticipating their online “desire paths.” This is difficult because a wide variety of people will have personal preferences for which website layouts are the most intuitive.   

    In my job I helped the museum website’s usability to potential guests—hopefully transforming them into actual guests.  I had to assure that the dates posted for upcoming events were correct.  Meanwhile I had to make sure that past events did not linger on the website crowding out the upcoming events.

    I learned that it is important for a museum’s website to appear as though it is cared for. In the minds of online users, this appearance and usability reflects the amount of care that is put into the museums actual collections and programming.  For many audiences the online presence and real-life presentations of museums are one and the same.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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    Launching Botany Hall

    On Thursday, March 29th, Colleen O'Reilly and I launched our collaborative project Botany Hall: Dioramas on Context in the Hall of Botany at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The event marked the launch of our online exhibition at and provided an ideal opportunity for facilitating a cross-institutional, interdisciplinary discussion about art and science. This latter component was always an essential part of our project vision. Indeed, in our initial mock grant proposal (drafted in Spring 2016), we posited that our project would contribute to academic discussion on the politics of display, representation as a pathway to knowledge, and the lives and agencies of objects. 

    We were delighted to assemble a panel of individuals who contributed to our research process between 2016 and 2018. Lugene Bruno, Curator of Art & Senior Research Scholar at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, provided expert knowledge on the history of botanical illustration and helpfully contrasted 2D and 3D representations of scientific phenomena. Bonnie Isaac, meanwhile, is an in-house expert on the space we have been studying for two years. As Collection Manager of Botany at CMNH, Isaac manages the herbarium and has witnessed the evolution of the museum since 1989. Erin Peters, joint lecturer of curatorial studies in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and Assistant Curator of Science and Research at the CMNH, straddles the line between art history and historical, scientific display, so has provided invaluable advice on this project since its inception. These individuals helped to generate a lively discussion about dioramas, display techniques, and collaborative work. 

    We were also pleasantly suprised by the number of attendees. Participants arrived from a range of institutions and disciplines: ranging from faculty and students from the School of Education and the Department of Art and Architecture at Pitt as well as staff from the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Andy Warhol Museum, Hunt Institute, City of Asylum, and the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania. 

    Having launched the website and hosted an opening event, we are taking some time away from Botany Hall. We may do more with this project, but are allowing ourselves some time to write our own dissertations and reflect on the work we've done thus far. Feel free to send us feedback after perusing the website! 

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    What is Significant in a Mass of Visual Impressions?

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Spring 2018

    "Wallace Richards, one of the lead photographers of the project said about his role that 'photographers can see what is significant in a mass of visual impressions'"
    -Witness to the Fifties: Pittsburgh Photographic Library

    “I don't even like history!”  I said in frustration, to one of my friends, with one week left to finish planning an exhibition on historical photographs. Of course, this remark came jokingly from a place of stress. And yet, it was still half true. I didn't really “like” history.

    The subject of history was always something I never found the time to connect with, even as an Anthropology student. Yet there I was, choosing and developing the “big idea” on an exhibition of 1950s-era photographs which highlighted a key era of local history. During my time interning with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, I quickly came to realize my naiveté and discovered the wider need for historical narratives in many different communities, including my own.

    The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh houses an impressive collection of historical photographs. One such collection, the Pittsburgh Photograph Library (PPL), became the center of my work during my time with the Digital Strategy Department and the REcollection Studio. The REcollection Studio, a DIY Lab for digitizing photographs and videos, has set out on the daunting task of digitizing the PPL materials and all 11,000 or so photographs taken of Pittsburgh during 1950s.

    For my internship, I was to help with this task of digitizing and editing photographs. But I also worked on an individual project creating a small exhibition centered on a selection of PPL photographs, as part of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's “Gallery @ Main.”

    As I stated earlier, historical work had not been my focus up until this point, despite my studies in Anthropology, Art History, and Museum Studies. When choosing the "Big Idea" for the exhibition, I wanted to consider what sort of statement Pittsburgh was in “need” of hearing. I also was curious what the photographic collection itself “wanted” to tell me.

    The “Big Idea” of an exhibition is essentially the main theme organizing what sorts of content will be displayed. For me, the creation of the big idea was the most challenging aspect of creating an exhibition from the ground up. To arrive at this I had flipped through big and worn-out “photo albums” which house printed versions of the photographs as in a scrapbook. I landed on a striking photograph of a young boy in the Hill District wearing on his face a toy mask made out of an advertisement.

    Throughout the collection I noticed many photographs that included billboards, televisions, protest signs, and other signage media of that sort. I realized it would be interesting to make a connection between these photos, since the 1950s were an iconic moment of advertisement and media boom in the US. At the same time, the PPL is full of examples of tension and destruction during this period especially in neighborhoods such as the Hill District were in people, such as the boy in the mask, were being forced out of their homes to make way for “urban development.” Looking at this photo of the child wearing a mask, it finally clicked: Signs. A “sign” could very literally be sign held up by a striking worker in front of a steel mill. But the word sign could also be figurative in the way that a photographic of a strike sign also “signals” the shifting attitudes and struggles of the moment in time.

    I chose a selection of 15 photographs, which I felt captured the idea but were also a good example of the diversity and scope which the Pittsburgh Photographic Library covered. After creating the theme and choosing the photos I created the wall text, scanned and edited the photo negatives, advertised for the show, and printed and installed all the media on the walls of the Oakland branch of the Carnegie Library. Signs was on exhibit from March 5th to March 31st in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburghs “Gallery @ Main”. After the exhibition went up I also took on the task of giving four guided tours during which I shared the history of the PPL with patrons of the library and creating a reading list of suggested books and a virtual tour of the show.

    Do I like history now? I believe much more than before that I have a greater understanding of the messages that lay in looking backwards at our past and how these messages are often tools for the future.

    Wallace Richards, one of the lead photographers of the project (the PPL) said about his role that "photographers can see what is significant in a mass of visual impressions." I believe that in my experience with the PPL and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, I was able to catch a glimpse at its significance and I look forward to the public being able to access the photographs once the REcollection Studios hard work is complete.

    Take the Virtual Tour of Signs here

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here


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  • Surveys ready for distribution in the We Are Nature: Living in the Athropocene exhibit




    A Brief Survey of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Spring 2018

    Thousands of visitors of different ages visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History every year. As the Museum Studies intern in their Marketing Department, it was my job to ask these visitors about their experience in the museum. My work was overseen by Kate Sallada, Marketing Researcher, and Kathleen Bodenlos, Director of Marketing and Public Relations.

    The best days to collect surveys are weekends because a much greater portion of the population is represented. Families are common on Saturdays and Sundays, especially in the Natural History museum where kids can engage with many of the exhibits.

    I collected surveys for the recently installed exhibit, We Are Nature: Living in the Athropocene, throughout my internship. The day that I was able to collect the highest volume of surveys was a very cold Sunday in February. I surveyed over 50 visitors over the course of 4 hours.

    When crafting a survey for the general public, it must be accessible to as many people as possible. Those visiting from other countries or unable to speak English fluently were able to understand the simple survey instructions, and could ask me questions about any sections that needed further verbal explanation.

    In addition to the surveys, the exhibit had several interactive stations where guests could leave their thoughts. One station asked visitors to make associations with a certain emotion, such as “Empowered’ or “Angry,” and visitors could write down their opinions about the exercise on a corresponding Sticky-Note.

    The exhibit also featured many dry-erase surfaces where visitors were prompted to write down words or phrases based on a question. These responses were often documented by a photographer before they were erased to make room for new feedback.

    After surveying general opinions about the exhibit, we also sought feedback on the marketing campaign we were developing. Many of those leaving the exhibit reported that they felt “empowered,” which was a feeling we wanted to reinforce in our marketing strategy. One plan was to change the main photograph on our signage from one of crushed cardboard boxes to a sunny image of a small child holding a sapling. This image was more representative of the visitor experience than that of our previous campaign, according to the reactions from the surveys.

    This experience has given me vital information about how to interact properly with the public in an art institution, and how to develop content that takes visitor preferences into account.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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  • These objects are from the Rosemary Trump Collection at the University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center. Rosemary Trump was one of the most active women in organized labor in Pittsburgh. In addition to being the first woman president of the Service Employees International Union, she held positions within other unions and organizations. She was also a member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, which was an organization of trade union women associated with the AFL-CIO.


    The Great Unboxing: Uncovering Women in Pittsburgh’s Labor History

    Museum Studies Interns at the University Library System (University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center) – Spring 2018

    After hours of scouring boxes overflowing with records and materials about Pittsburgh’s labor unions, I was frustrated. I knew there were women who took part in these unions. Yet what does one do when there are no traces or mentions of women within the records?

    As a great city of industry during the 19th and 20th centuries, Pittsburgh had no shortage of different labor unions. However, this legacy did not necessarily mean that there was a high presence of women within those unions, or that they were represented very well in historical documents. 

    As an intern at the University of Pittsburgh’s Archives Service Center, I was assigned the task of researching women within the steel industry of Pittsburgh. This task involved figuring out which archival collections potentially held relevant material on women steelworkers, and then looking through these collections to find this information. 

    This task turned into something a bit more focused, as my focus narrowed from women in the steel industry to the topic of women in organized labor. 

    Finding information about women in organized labor in Pittsburgh was like searching for a needle in a haystack --but in a good way. There were some collections, such as those of local figures Steffi Domike and Rosemary Trump, that had a great deal of invaluable material. There were many more collections that potentially contained information on women and many of them were promising. However, in the process, there was no guarantee that I would find the information that I was seeking. To verify whether the material was there or not, I had to sort through all the collections with potential leads.

    The greatest challenge –as well as the greatest payoff– of my internship was sifting through company records and finding traces of women unionists. I was often happily surprised to find that many women did voice their opinions and become active in their unions. However, sometimes information such as this was disappointingly absent in certain unions, or it was hard to find archival material around the topic. 

    Despite these challenges, my internship research culminated in a LibGuide that will be included in the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System. This research is meant to act as a base on which future students will help to create an exhibition on women unionists in the Hillman Library. With the help of the Media Curator, Miriam Meislik, as well as other archivists at the University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center, I was able to start the first step of uncovering the history of women in organized labor in Pittsburgh. This great unboxing is far from complete, but I have gained invaluable experience from it.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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  • Entry to Copy + Paste.


    Copy + Paste: Evaluating Visitor Participation in the Hall of Architecture

    Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art – Spring 2018

    Before I began my internship with the Heinz Architectural Center, I knew very little about the Hall of Architecture. I had walked through it a dozen times without realizing what a marvel the collection was. In my time spent as an intern working on Copy + Paste: Hall of Architecture, I gained an in-depth understanding of this gallery as well as an inside look at the efforts being made to enhance visitor participation and education.

    My main responsibility was to digitalize the daily surveys obtained by gallery ambassadors who also directed the HACLabs. After attending a few of the weekly meetings with the education department, I was given the opportunity to create my own surveys to replace the versions they had been using. This was particularly exciting to me because my background in the sciences had prepared me for designing new methods of data collection for data analysis.

    The surveys I designed were intended to give us a better understanding of what visitors were getting out of the HACLabs. For example, we wanted to know if participating in a plaster casting workshop would help patrons understand how casts in the Hall of Architecture were made-- or if it missed the mark entirely. The questions I crafted were meant to collect this information as well as that of the visitor’s experience. I also created a visitor survey for the Plaster Re-Cast app, in order to gauge visitors’ opinions about it and understand how it can be improved.

    The data evaluation is ongoing, but I am happy to have had a part in it. This experience has given me the opportunity to use skills I have gained from my college courses, while also providing me with a new understanding of the efforts that go into shaping visitor experience in a museum.

    Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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