Architecture, Archives, and More: An Internship


Architecture, Archives, and More: An Internship

Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art - Spring 2017

This spring I worked as an Intern for the Heinz Architectural Center on projects relating to the Hall of Architecture. As an intern, I undertook three major projects. The first project was the main reason the internship was offered, and paired well with my Intro to Visitor Evaluation class. In 2011, a design studio class at CMU had undertaken a major project on the Hall of Architecture; gathering visitor preferences and responses to the Hall to design a better signage system. I took the data they collected that they had recorded and their design ideas and analyzed that data to make graphs to show the results. I also put together a report containing those results that could be used for future reference instead of having to go back through the project booklets. There is something inexplicably satisfying about recording data and compiling it into graphs. Or maybe it’s just me.

For the second project that I undertook, I worked with the Carnegie Museum's database. I researched the casts in the Hall of Architecture and recorded the dates, names, locations, and architect/sculptures of the original buildings or objects that they were cast of or from. Some of the buildings that the Carnegie has fragments or capitals from are more interesting than the main monuments that are currently displayed, such as the Tower of the Winds, which is only represented with a capital fragment, but the building is so much more interesting. It was the first weather station ever built and the original is still considered so important that it was recently restored to its original condition at great expense.

The third project that I undertook was the most time-consuming because of the volume of material that I had to sift through. The archival records relating to the acquisition of casts for the Hall of Architecture and Sculpture Hall had been recently digitized and were sorted in boxes based on subject, such as the sender or recipient. My job was to sort the records instead by cast. I also recorded any interesting stories that I came across, such as the drama between the Director and a Met Museum staffer over a miscommunication over her notes on the history of the casts. My favorite story however, was the series of communications over the Lysicrates Monument. Andrew Carnegie wanted the monument to have one side restored, and one side as the monument currently was, but the cast makers said it was impossible, so he settled for the addition of a tripod, which the cast makers had to make only from references in historical documents.

I also did additional research into some of the archival stories, such as the Allegheny Courthouse Controversy, for which I requested the National Register Nominations from the National Park Service. This internship was a wonderful opportunity that honed my research skills and taught me data analysis-related skills. I am proud of what I accomplished.

Learn more about the Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative here

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