For my senior year at Buffalo State College, I took the Internship in Anthropology course (ANT 488) required for my anthropology major and completed my hours at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. More specifically, I interned at the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives. I was under the supervision of the wonderful Heather Gring, alongside her amazing coworkers, Jennifer Cook and Tullis Johnson. During my time interning at the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives, I worked on 3 projects in total- editing Burchfield Penney Art Center artist bios on the institution’s website, Artpark Archive Inventory, and Living Legacy Project audio transcriptions. The bulk of my time was spent working in the Artpark Archive Inventory, while editing website biographies and transcribing audio files only accounted for a small amount of my time. Although these projects were not equally carried out, they each had a special impact on me and were each a different learning experience that added on to my knowledge. Each of these projects has taught me skills that I can and will apply in the future.
Prior to beginning my internship (before Spring 2018, towards the end of the Fall 2017 semester), I was at a standstill about where I should intern at. My Buffalo State work study supervisor, Kathy Shiroki also works at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and because of this I decided to look into internships at the Burchfield. I asked Kathy about the Burchfield Penney archives and she gave me the contact information for archivist, Heather Gring. I set up an interview with Heather, however it was not at all what I was expecting. Our interview was more of a conversation, with Heather asking me questions about myself, my school experience, and what I would be interested in working on. Heather also made it clear that it was my decision to intern at the Burchfield, and that I had a couple days to give an answer. I felt very comfortable talking with Heather, leading me to make a decision within the same day.
One of my favorite experiences with interning at the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives was a special task I had working on the Artpark Archives. I was to do my regular archival processing, except this time the items were scrolls that had never been opened by anyone prior to Jennifer and I. Upon opening the scrolls, I discovered that they were blueprint, floor plans, and other similar architectural drawings. As I completed this project, I felt as if I was like an archaeologist uncovering architectural drawings for lost archaeological sites. This experience was one of my favorites because it put me in a place that I would hope to be in one day in my desired career.
My experience at the Burchfield was one of the best I have ever had, both personally and professionally. I sincerely enjoyed working with the wonderful people I was surrounded by. Although I had minimal interaction with other interns and work study employees, they were all sweet people that I felt comfortable being around. In reference to my professional experience, interning at the Burchfield taught me so much about my possible desired career path. I learned a multitude of skills needed to work with archives at a museum. I learned how to transcribe interviews which is an integral skill needed as an anthropologist. As an anthropologist, I am expected to interview the people I am studying, which I will need to effectively transcribe. I will also have to possibly transcribe interviews at the moment they are being carried out. Transcribing the Living Legacy Project interviews helped me hone skills that I will definitely use in my career. I also honed skills in archival processing. As an anthropologist, if I do any archaeological work, I will most likely find artifacts that need to get processed. In my later years, I hope to have a museum of my own and process artifacts on my own. Working on the Artpark archives with Jennifer Cook was a massive contribution to my knowledge on how to do archival processing. I am now confident with my archival processing skills, although I of course need more years of experience. I appreciate Heather Gring, Jennifer Cook, Tullis Johnson, and all other Burchfield Penney Art Center staff for welcoming me so warmly. I would be more than grateful to work again at the Burchfield.
-Kristen Veitch, May 2018