In Which Edrea Has Her Longest Week Ever

But it was worth it!

part of the collection of baskets at NMAI.

part of the collection of baskets at NMAI.

My week started early on Monday with a trip to the Smithsonian’s National museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resource Center. There, we got to see how other museums store and care for their artifacts. It was amazing seeing the facility and all the different types of collections they had. We were able to see everything from miniscule hand woven baskets the size of a fingernail to totem poles that reached over three stories. The center is organized by region, with artifacts from North American beginning on the north part of the building and going down from there. I also learned that the original museum was started by a man in new York before the collection was moved and a larger museum opened here in DC. However, there is still a site in new York. After a quick lunch, we headed over the Museum Resource Center in Maryland. ¬†Unfortunately I cannot post any pictures, but it’s as amazing as you can imagine. They are a little tight on space, so they had to add a couple mezzanine areas, but we able to see one of the pillows Lincoln bled on after he was shot as well as extra statues from the Vietnam memorial, and one of the pens used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was great seeing these different sites and learning about their storage and security, especially since my supervisor took me along specifically to help her come up with ideas for the new security details we are hoping to get for Arlington House and other sites on the Parkway.
Fellow intern Carly and I work on cleaning a piece of art before packing it up for storage.

Fellow intern Carly and I work on cleaning a piece of art before packing it up for storage.

Tuesday was another early morning because we were off to Harper’s Ferry to help with one of the sites out there. A little on where we were: Harper’s Ferry is obviously where John Brown’s Fort is, the location of the raid during the Civil War. It also has an historic lower town. Where we were was one of the houses on site. The house is now used as collection storage, but it used to be a dorm for an old Historically Black College that used to be in the area. Before that it was a hospital and an historic mansion. The reason we were there was because they had a grass mold problem and needed help cleaning the collection and getting it back to storage at the Museum Resource Center. The mold is not toxic, but some people can have a reaction to it. Luckily I did not so I was able to be inside the house cleaning and packing up the art collections they had stored. Since all the artwork was original, we had to be extra careful and packing each piece properly took us about 45 minutes. It was great meeting other rangers and interns and hopefully we were a help to the people out there as well. I know they are still cleaning and getting things moved, and are still planning on being there next week.
There was a variety of NPS people working to help out the rangers at Harper's Ferry. It was a long and hot day, but we still had a smile or two for some pictures after!

There was a variety of NPS people working to help out the rangers at Harper’s Ferry. It was a long and hot day, but we still had a smile or two for some pictures after!

Wednesday was the next to last early morning for this week. Despite it being the seventh week on the Parkway, I was able to go to a new employee orientation where we were taken around the Parkway and better acquainted with the sites, including a stop at Glen Echo and another ride on the carousel. A lot of it I had seen before, but it was nice to spend time with the rangers and other interns as we learned and explored. We stopped for lunch at Great Falls Park and it was just as amazing as I remember. I learned a lot more about the falls. It was George Washington who hoped to build a canal through the more dangerous parts of the Potomac in the hopes of better uniting the country. He feared the river would divide parts of the country and create factions that would turn into new nations. Luckily, his fears were unfounded, but the canal did help unite our young country and there are still some locks on the canal that are being preserved. The falls are as beautiful as they are dangerous, and one of the trail heads reminds visitors to be careful. Although swimming and generally being in the river without a boat or sturdy kayak is prohibited, there are an average of seven deaths every year. The most recent was a 20-year old man whose remains were found days after he had first disappeared.
Look at these Great Falls!

Look at these Great Falls!

The last early morning I had was Friday where we needed to be at Ford’s Theater for a special tour and exclusive entrance inside the box where President Lincoln was assassinated. I learned that after the assassination, people were outraged when the owners of the theater wanted to continue having shows, so it was sold to the government, gutted, and used as offices for a while. It was eventually returned to a theater, but I was a little disappointed that it was not the original box. Either way, it was cool learning the history and getting to actually go inside and on the stage which the general public is not allowed to do. We also saw the house across the street Lincoln was taken to after he was shot and learned more about the group of people responsible for¬† what had happened. People remember the name John Wilkes Booth, but he had multiple people help him who had plans of their own to assassinate other members of the Cabinet like the Vice President and Secretary of State. Included in those hung was Mary E. Surratt who became the first woman ever executed by the Federal Government.
View of "the Box" from the stage at Ford's Theater.

View of “the Box” from the stage at Ford’s Theater.

It was definitely a long week for me, but I learned more than I could have hoped for and got great insight on what it takes to care for and be in charge of a museum collection. The lack of sleep and early mornings was worth the experience and while the weekend can’t seem to come soon enough, I am also eager for next week, where we already have some more excitement and craziness on our calendars.

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