Interning During a Pandemic
In a time of uncertainty such as this, museums across the country, including the Hudson River Maritime Museum, are in the process of navigating how they are going to provide the public with online content. Since closing their doors in March, the staff at the HRMM have shifted their efforts to publishing on their history blog. They post at least one article a day, ensuring their patrons can continue consuming local history as much as ever before. In fact, because these blog posts are remotely accessible, it is now possible to reach more people on an increased basis.
To compensate for the physical work I would be doing every week at the museum, I will now be contributing to the history blog with posts on topics that I think the museum has not previously represented enough. The first blog post I plan on completing is going to focus on the native people of the Hudson Valley before European contact. I decided to go with this topic first because I believe one cannot tell a local history without acknowledging the cultural contributions made by the original inhabitants of the land. I saw this as an appropriate choice considering I am an anthropology minor and can therefore provide an anthropological perspective of the history of the area. My internship advisor was very excited about this topic choice and has lots of resources and contacts I can use to gather research. Since these blog posts are relatively short, I will publish multiple posts on various topics throughout the remainder of the semester.
The second task I’ll be participating in is the online exhibit my coworkers will be putting together. The Maritime Museum has acquired many postcards over the years depicting features of the Hudson Valley, which they plan on categorizing and displaying online. For instance, they have a lovely collection of cards of Hudson River bridges as well as some from local events throughout the past century. My portion of this exhibit will be centered around important geological features of the region, such as The Palisades and Storm King Mountain, just to name a few. I will curate the postcards I want to include and provide a description of how they were formed and what role they have played in the history of the area. My portion will then be added to those written by other staff members and posted on the HRMM website.
This work closely resembles what I had originally planned on doing in person at my internship, so I am generally confident that the closure of the museum will not heavily impact the experience I will receive through working there. However, one major effect this has had on my plans is that I was excited to practice giving tours, as I imagine that will be an important skill for me to have when applying for future jobs, but now that will clearly not be possible. Businesses and organizations across the country must be creative in how they will be realigning themselves to adapt to this confusing and unexpected time in history. The Hudson River Maritime is no exception, and they have made it their mission to continue to provide quality historical content to the public while we all maneuver these uncharted waters.