When I was younger my mom took me to my first museum, the Buffalo Science Museum. I remember being completely fascinated with all of the exhibits and I wanted to know how they were made! I remember thinking to “one day I hope I can work in a museum and create such beautiful displays.” When I got older I realized the inner workings of a museum are much more complicated than just putting artifacts on shelves! But learning about the hard work that goes into each and every museum made me appreciate them and want to work in a museum even more!
During the spring of 2016 I took Nancy Weekly’s museum preservation class at Buffalo State College. Throughout the semester I was able to learn more about how museums preserve their artifacts. Nancy, who is a curator at the Burchfield Penney Arts Center introduced me to Heather Gring, who is an archivist also at the Burchfield. Nancy and Heather gave me the wonderful opportunity to become an intern at the Burchfield Penney. I then interned at the Burchfield during the summer of 2016.
Working at the Burchfield Penney was one of the best work experiences I ever had! The staff was wonderful to work with and the projects were interesting and helpful! Heather was my mentor during my internship. She was a wonderful mentor, she always made sure that I was comfortable with whatever project I was working on, and that those projects would benefit me. If I had the opportunity I would love to work at the Burchfield again!
I worked on many different projects at the Burchfield. A few of them included transcribing Charles E. Burchfield’s journals and letters and editing audio for artist interviews. These were both fascinating projects, as they both let me look into the mind of an artist! The transcriptions are a part of a large project that the Burchfield is working. The Burchfield is hoping to transcribe Burchfield’s journals for the pubic to read! The artist audio interviews that I edited were for the Burchfield’s Living Legacy Project. The main project that I worked on was the reorganizing and rehousing the Buffalo Society of Artists archival collection. This collection is one that is frequently used by researchers and with the reorganization of the collection researchers should be able to gain access to documents more efficiently. This project was extensive since I had to go through each and every document to ensure they were all in the right order and housed correctly. Then I needed to make sure that a digital record of the collection was created and accurate. Most people I think would find this kind of project tedious, but I found it relaxing and fulfilling! It was a wonderful feeling to work on preserving a collection so future researchers could use! I spent most of my time at the Burchfield with the BSA collection, but I was also given the wonderful opportunity to install art in the Galleries. The artwork that I helped install was a part of the Burchfield’s “Blistering Visions” show that will be up for a few months. Installing art was incredibly fun and educational! A really fun project that I was able to work on was filling a display case in the Buffalo State Butler Library to promote the Burchfield’s 50th anniversary. I really enjoyed choosing which books the public would see and where they would go! I really loved working on these projects and working with the amazing staff at the Burchfield Penney Arts Center!
The Burchfield helped me develop many skills, new and old. I learned how to install art work, correctly store and handle documents, transcribe documents, edit audio and I gained some curatorial skills! I am incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to intern at the Burchfield Penney Arts Center! I learned a lot and had a lot of fun!
Mary Langille is currently enrolled in the Museum Studies program at SUNY Buffalo State.