By Madisyn Rostro
Five weeks have gone by now and it’s hard to believe that I have already reached the halfway mark. I feel as if my internship is flying by before my eyes and soon enough, I will be back home starting my second year of college. Since this is my halfway point I have been getting more involved with the activities that are hosted at SAGA and the activities that are hosted with our sister park, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. I have also been able to meet more people at SAGA and make connections that will last me a lifetime. I am getting more and more excited to come to work every day knowing that I am doing something that I love and I get to work with people who understand the hard work that it takes to run a museum.
During week four we went to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, VT. There we had the opportunity to talk to the head of the education department at the Montshire. She had the time to sit down with us and chat about how she got where she is now. She also gave us some advice about finding a job in the future and how to look for your dream job. She mentioned that if your dream job isn’t available yet then you could work at another museum close by and gain more experience until a position at the other museum opens. This was good advice to hear since I will eventually be looking for a permanent job once I have graduated from college.
During the middle of the week, we started the first big bronze cleaning project. We spent all day in 90-degree weather covering the monument with water and soaking with suds to clean the monument. Then once that had dried in the hot sun, we went back in to apply a general wax over the monument for it to shine and to protect it against the harsh weather. This was a very fun filled project that we got to use scaffolding for. It was my first time being on scaffolding and since I am afraid of heights, I stood very close to the ladder in case I needed to get down. I had a lot of fun cleaning the Shaw Memorial and I gained more valuable experience with cleaning a prestigious memorial and I also got to see certain details that the average person is not able to see down on the ground.
Another thing that we worked on during the fourth week was brainstorming a capstone project that I must present in front of the park interpretation staff in August before I leave. I took a lot of time to think about this because I wanted my point to go across and I wanted to enjoy the project that I chose and the area of interest that I chose as well. After a couple of days of thinking I decided to work on a project dedicated to the Shaw Memorial that we have on grounds here at SAGA. I wanted to focus more on the racial interpretation that Saint-Gaudens used for the African American models for his sculpture. I am in the beginning stages of my research project and something that I know for a fact is that Saint-Gaudens father Bernard was an abolitionist who started the first black freemasons and got kicked out of the white freemasons because of it. It is unclear if Saint-Gaudens was racist or not racist himself but that not the point I’m trying to prove or deny. I am simply showing how he looked at the models for his sculpture and how we can now use the interpretation of this information for other people to understand from a whole new perspective.
That weekend Zoe and I decided to go to Portland, ME. It was the first time that I had ever been to Maine and it was an experience that I will never forget. When I was a child, I wanted to move to Maine so I could eat all the seafood I wanted for a cheaper price. Now having been there I know that the seafood is indeed cheaper there and the land is more beautiful than I have seen in pictures. The first day that Zoe and I were there we spent the time exploring the downtown area with the different souvenir shops and the boutiques, I had to do a little shopping. During the second day, we went to Cape Elizabeth and even though it was raining the whole time I think we both had a blast running through the rain trying to get good photos that we could look back on. I
am beyond grateful that I got to go to Maine since it is a place I have wanted to go for years and hopefully I can visit again in the future and explore more of the area.
During the fifth week, it went by faster. We were busy trying to get projects completed before the holiday (Independence Day). I got to work on a very exciting task and that was unpackaging trunks that were Augustus Saint-Gaudens, his wife, his son, and their maid. It was interesting to see all the labels of the different trips they were taking. It was also interesting to see the type of condition that the trunks were in after over 100 plus years of being in storage. We were able to unwrap every trunk without damaging it and then we also decided to vacuum the trunks as well just to clean up any debris that might have gotten on the trunks over that past years. This was very time consuming but also intriguing. It was interesting to see the different vacuum tools that we were using in cleaning up the trunks and how careful we had to be with the fabric in case it started to rip.
That weekend I got the opportunity for our sculpture in residence, Dan Willig to draw me for his portrait class. I found this to be a relaxing time to just sit in a chair and watch the outdoors. Halfway through the process, it started to rain bad but that didn’t bother Dan, so he kept drawing me and even with the rain it was calmer. After he finished the drawing, I got to look at it and keep it. It was funny how much I thought I looked like my mother and kind of scary as well. But Dan gave me some knowledge about the artistic world of drawing people. He said that if you make even the tiniest line thicker or thinner than you really change the persons facial features and in total change, the persons face altogether.
I don’t have as much to talk about during the fifth week because we had the day off and I spent the fourth relaxing and getting to know more interns at a cookout/potluck. I’m looking forward to the next two weeks in being able to pull together a visitor center exhibit and to work on my capstone project. I’m not exactly sure how I will present the project or even which way I will direct my statements or thoughts. I do look forward to more adventures that I will take along the weekend and what I will be doing at work throughout the weekdays.