This summer, I completed an internship with the Department of Education and Visitor Services of the National Postal Museum, one of the Smithsonian Institutions. My project entailed creating online training for volunteer-led activities. As someone who knew nothing about postal service history or about stamps, I gained a great knowledge of and appreciation for the museum’s content.
Aside from my main project, I assisted with several other tasks. One of the biggest events I worked on was Dog Days of Summer. It is a weekend-long family program that revolves around a dog adoption outside the museum and the animals of the postal service inside the museum. I was in charge of an obstacle course activity that focused on the mule mail train of the Grand Canyon. On a weekly basis, another intern and I led a demonstration of the Spider Press. The Spider Press was used up until World War I to print stamps. Our demonstrations included facilitating discussions about the press while printing small postcard-like souvenirs.
There were many aspects of my internship that I enjoyed. While I worked for the Department of Education and Visitor Services, I had the opportunity to meet other staff and interns in different departments. Usually, I met these other people during the lunch hour. All staff and interns were invited to have lunch together in the museum where the only topic off the table was work. Here, I got to communicate and connect with others. Apart from the lunches, I also had the opportunity to speak with other staff about their roles in the museum. Having some experience in collections, I informally interviewed staff from the collections department regarding their thoughts and duties about collections work. Talking to the collections department also led to a demonstration of an ultrasonic welder, also known as an encapsulator, from the paper conservator. He gave me a tour of the conservation lab and showed me how the encapsulator works -- that may have been my favorite part of my internship.
-- Jackie Porcello, Class of 2019