By Madisyn Rostro
2,000 miles and thirty hours away from a place that I call my home. That was the distance that I traveled to go from a cornfield small town in Shenandoah, IA to a colonial style living in Cornish, NH. On my way my, father and I decided that we wanted to go through Canada to see Niagara Falls since both of us had never been. The road trip to get here was an experience that I will never forget and something that I will cherish forever with getting time to spend with my father. I was full of excitement and nervousness to begin my first internship so far away from home and from anyone that I knew. But in the midst of things I was more excited to start this new chapter in my life and to gain experience that I can’t get back home.
While being here in New Hampshire working as a ACE CDRIP intern at Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park I want to gain experience with getting hands on with the collections and to understand how and why each piece is significant and to adapt historic preservation and cultural resources field into my work.
The first day when I arrived at my living quarters was spent cleaning out cobwebs and dusting my room. I noticed the amount of character my room had since the house itself is almost 120 years old, originally used as the tenant home. It is the oldest home that I have ever stayed in but again it was something that I looked forward too. I quickly put my things away, but I was excited to get to explore the area around me and get to see what New Hampshire had to offer. Once Zoe (the other ACE CDRIP intern) showed up to the home we quickly bonded over what were some of the similar activities that we wanted to do while we here for the 10 weeks. We discussed going hiking, to farmers markets, to more historical sites and parks, and even the mention of going to Montreal, Canada.
Beginning my first week at Saint-Gaudens I quickly learned what I would be spending my summer doing and how I could gain more skills in the museum profession. During the week I was introduced into object handling. This gave me the ability to learn how to handle a variety of objects (sculptures, books, textiles, photos, and prints). I paid special attention to the size, shape, and delicacy of all the objects I would be handling. Later in the week I learned housekeeping and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) tactics that we would use in the Saint-Gaudens home. I learned of a routine cleaning and monitoring the home and objects on view. I also learned how to practice visual inspection and how to identify pest correctly to make there were no harmful bugs in the home that could be a potential threat to the artwork. During the week we also went on a couple of field trips, we first went to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, VT. There I had the great opportunity to meet the curator who kindly showed us around the collections storage and also gave us a unique experience of behind the scenes tour of some fallout shelters that are on the grounds. On the second field trip we went to the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, NH. There we met the curator who showed us the newly renovated museum and the collections that were on view and was able to give us a little background on about each piece.
The second week went by fast, but I feel it was because we were busy with a bunch of projects. The week was spent starting inventory which comprised of accounting for the objects in collections, special collections, and Aspet (the home of Augustus Saint- Gaudens). I had to locate, identify, and note the objects status and update changes in the data base. I also spent the week rehousing objects to the New Gallery since it recently opened. We also went on a couple of field trips this week as well. I got the chance to go to Barbis Fine Art Conservation in Woodstock, VT and learn all about art conservation and the amount of time that is spent on one project but the rewarding feeling in the end being able to have a family reconnect to the piece. I also got the opportunity to go on a walking tour with Judy Hayward with Historic Windsor, VT where we got to look at historical structures of homes and learn the trends of home structures that have changed throughout the years.
In conclusion, I was taught a lot of valuable information in my first couple of weeks. I am beyond excited to see what else this internship has to offer me and my future career. I have found that I enjoy the New England area a bit more than the Midwest because of the charm and character of the people, landscape, and buildings that surround New Hampshire. I look forward to meeting more people from here and getting more connections that I can reference back to when needed. I am ready to start week three and think more in depth of what exactly I want to accomplish here at Saint- Gaudens and take with me back home.