Accessions, Exhibits, Archaeology, & Collection Tours

Written by: Marjorie Anne Portillo

We have reached the 11th and final week of my internship program! For my final blog post, I will be highlighting a few things I’ve done during my last few weeks here in Boston.

Accessions Inventory

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks of my internship working on the last part of our annual inventory. The last of the three inventory lists that must be completed is the Accessions Inventory List. This one is a bit different from the other two lists because it’s not just the objects that we need to look for, but also the accession files that must be reviewed for completion. Usually, one would use the NPS’s database, ICMS, to look over the files and catalog status but because we were unable to access the server this summer, everything needed to be reviewed through paperwork and catalog books! I spent quite some time reviewing each file for each accession and have learned a lot about what is required for each different type of acquisition. I am a stickler for organization and completion so I actually enjoyed looking over all the paperwork and seeing what has not been completed! If I could, I would have tried to get all the paperwork done myself but because a lot of these files have been created in the 70s and 80s, it would have taken a lot of time and effort–and I’m sure I would have needed a lot more than 11 weeks!

Marjorie Anne Portillo Searching Files
Searching through Accession Files!

Searching Through Archaeological Artifacts

Going back to the Random Sample Inventory, one of the things we needed to look for were objects from our archaeology collections. I learned that when a project (maintenance, construction, etc.) is being done on federal land, an archaeologist must be standing by to collect any material found on the grounds to preserve what has occurred on the land before the project disturbs the ground. So the archaeology collections consist of different materials and specimens found on sites such as the Charlestown Navy Yard, Dorchester Heights, Bunker Hill, etc. I really enjoyed this part of the inventory because of how organized everything was. Because these items were a lot smaller, they were organized in boxes of baggies and were labeled by project and catalog numbers. And because of this, it was by far the easiest part of the inventory! One cool thing I found was structural material (a piece of brick) from the Marine Barracks–the place I resided at during the summer!

Marjorie Anne Portillo Holding Brick Sample
Brick from the Marine Barracks

Re-Installing Exhibits

Another task I got to complete during the last few weeks of my internship was assisting with the re-installation of some exhibits at the Visitor Center at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Some items were just brought back from a conservation project and were being re-installed as an exhibit. Because my summer project took place mostly within the collection storage facilities, it was nice to step out of the office and experience another aspect of museum services! Museum exhibit installation is something that I feel is pretty fun to do so it was great to be able to help David and Nolan with that task. It was also really cool to see the different tools needed to screw things into place! (David had a whole pack of tools for exhibit installation)

Marjorie Anne Portillo Reinstalling Displays
Nolan and David working together to install an exhibit. Remember to wear your gloves when handling museum artifacts!

Guiding the Youth

During this last week, we had the opportunity to give members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) a tour of our collection facilities. It was a really fun experience because I got to help pick out some items from our collection to showcase to them. During the tour, I got to hear and learn more things about our collection from Nolan and David whenever members of the YCC asked them questions. At the end of the tour, we got to talk to them about how we got into the field and what our educational/professional backgrounds were. It was really great to see how interested they were in what we did and I even found out that some of them were even interested in ACE

Marjorie Anne Portillo Artifacts Worked On
Our collection showcase for YCC

The past 11 weeks have flown by so quickly! I honestly can’t believe that I’ve already reached the end of this wonderful internship. I’ve learned so much from David and Nolan and will definitely put the skills I’ve developed to good use. My experience this summer has really proven to me that I’ve chosen the right career path for me. Whether my future takes me to work in museums, libraries, archives, or all of the above, I know that the skills I’ve gained and developed here in Boston will translate well to wherever I end up. The National Park Service is an amazing organization with a great mission to preserve and tell the stories of the places and people we hold very dear within our communities. I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with both the National Park Service and the American Conservation Experience once again.

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