Behind the Exhibit

  • Exhibit Display Case

Main glass doors leading into exhibit with an Egyptian motif above the doors.


Behind the Exhibit

Francesca Bonamo, Museum Studies Intern at Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Spring 2022

What do you think about when you visit a museum? Do you ponder the artifacts, read the labels and imagine the people these items belonged to long ago? Do you question how these objects were acquired to make such a cohesive and interesting exhibit? Very few people consider all of the work that goes behind creating the amazing exhibits they see when they walk through a museum. But that is exactly what I had the privilege of seeing throughout my semester, working as an intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH). 

Post-doctoral assistant curator, Dr. Lisa Haney is currently leading the creation of a new exhibit to replace the existing Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt exhibit. This plan consists of three separate projects that will end in the new unnamed Egypt in Simmons exhibit. Before officially closing and taking down the Egypt in Simmons exhibit, two other projects will be displayed, being Egypt on the Nile and Egypt to Pittsburgh. The work and planning that has been going on behind the scenes for this new exhibit is extensive and will be reflected in all three of the projects as they are rolled out. 

Throughout this project I have been privileged to work in exactly that setting: behind the scenes. I was able to take on a small fraction of the mountains of work that go into the creation and modernization of museum exhibits under the supervision of Dr. Haney. I have been sorting and organizing all of the research material that is being used in the creation of these projects. This included fully reorganizing the digital database, sifting through each document, renaming them, and creating annotated bibliographies so they can easily be referred to in future use. Through these tasks I have honed my writing, analytic and bibliography skills, all of which are extremely necessary for working successfully in the field. This may not seem exciting or important to some, but this organizational and categorical work is incredibly necessary for the success of creating new exhibits within museums.  

Prior to beginning this internship, I knew very little about the inner workings of museums let alone the creations of entire exhibits. This project has allowed me to gain valuable insight into the world of museums and has helped me strengthen many skills that I will use for future endeavors. Now anytime I visit a museum I have a better understanding of all of the invisible work that goes into educating and entertaining people everywhere. 

  • Academic Interns
  • Undergraduate Work