It’s so crazy to think that our time in South Africa is nearing a close. I think that I will look back on my time here for many years as some of the best days ever. For the end of our internship, Wandile asked us to create a project to present to many of the Iziko staff, including our supervisors, the Education and Public Programming department, and the director of the museums. We decided to create a booklet that would help Iziko advertise the many careers people can have within a museum because we noticed that not many youth know that working in a museum is an option. We worked really hard on it for a few days, and are really happy with how everything turned out.
Reflecting on my time spent with Bradley, Janene, and Hannah at the Social History Center in the conservation department, I think I have grown a lot as a person as well as a future museum professional. It may seem obvious, but the thing I have really learned the most during my internship so far is what conservators really do. Up until now the field of conservation has always been really obscure to me since it is such a small and exclusive field. In most of my museum classes and experience interning at and visiting museums, conservation is definitely the least talked about topic, and the department that I really had the least understanding of.
Knowing that I want to work in a department like collections management or
curatorial, it is good to have the knowledge of certain conservation skills because many of the preventative conservation techniques overlap with those of other departments. It is also very insightful to know what a day looks like for a conservator and all the different kinds of work that they do. I’ve learned these past few weeks that Bradley does not just sit in the lab repairing objects all day, but works with the curators to be sure objects are suitable for display, regulates the temperatures and humidity in the storage rooms, and takes appropriate measures when infestations occur. And that’s just what he’s done in in the past two weeks! I have really gained a greater understanding and appreciation for conservators that I would not have had without working in the conservation department.
This week, Wandile also took us on a field trip to the West Coast Fossil Park, which was about two hours north of Cape Town. We all piled into a nice big van and Strombile drove us all out there. When we first arrived, we saw a whole tree full of yellow African weaver birds making nests, and they were the coolest
things. We watched them for a while before meeting a woman named Wendy, who was an educator at the site. We learned about fossils found on the site and the many different types of now-extinct wildlife. At the fossil park, a new museum is currently being built and should be opening in December if all continues well. It’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t see it, but it just means that we’ll all have to come back someday! Overall, this little vacation was a really cool and fun way to spend the day.