By: Abigail Wing
Hi there! My name is Abigail Wing and this summer I am a Curatorial Intern at Saint Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.
I began my internship on June 19th and so far the first week and a half has been amazing. I met my supervisor, Elizabeth Rodriguez and the head curator of Saint Gaudens, Henry Duffy, and am getting to know them better every day. It has been a blast working with people who are so passionate and knowledgeable about their jobs. I also met my coworker, Leah Allison-Chisholm and we have had a great time exploring the historical site together and learning all sorts of new techniques.
During the first week we were given an extensive tour and began to learn the basics about cleaning outdoor art pieces. Saint Gaudens is full of bronze statues and reliefs. One of the most impressive pieces is the newer addition to the park, Abraham Lincoln! Leah and I started cleaning his statue first using towels, dusters for spider webs, special hake brushes with soft bristles to remove pine pollen from small detailing (such as the folds of his coat) and began to learn about appropriate cleaning supplies to use on bronze. The sculpture is quite impressive due to its size and the stature of Lincoln. He almost feels alive due to his fine detail and thoughtful expression as he looks out over the park he now calls home.
The first week of the internship also taught me how to properly handle books and dining china. Not only that, but I am also becoming more focused on becoming spatially aware in my surroundings. One wrong move with an elbow cleaning or taking inventory could mean the end of a fragile oil lamp or teacup!
After learning how to clean and handle objects and familiarizing myself with the historic site, I was taught how to take inventory of objects and work with an online program called Rediscovery. It is a huge catalogue of all the objects at Saint Gaudens. I learned how to search for specific items using their assigned numbers, modify records, and locate pieces that were hard to find or moved from a display into storage.
During the second week of the internship we took a very exciting field trip to the Marsh Billings site in Woodstock, Vermont. While there we got to experience how another museum organized their collections and storage. Not only that, but we were given an in-depth tour and were lucky enough to enter the fallout shelters under the mansion and recreation building!
People always talk about how when you love what you do, you never feel like you’re working a day in your life. I feel like this summer I’ll have the pleasure of joining that small and fortunate bandwagon!