The weekend before our last week of internship was an exciting one! On Sunday, we conquered (and I say that literally) Table Mountain. One thing I have learned about most South Africans is they don’t give too many directions, and this was one example where we did not know that we were getting ourselves into. We were told the trail we were taking was the “easy/beginner” trail, but I think they meant “easy/beginner if you’ve trained for 5 months ahead of time”. We started up the hill, and of course, took a wrong turn which added some time onto our hike. The views all the way up were absolutely stunning, which made it a little easier on the fact that my legs were about to give out. But despite the challenge, we persisted up the mountain and made it to the top just in time for sunset. It was fun experiencing something like that with the girls 🙂
Although we were scared we weren’t going to be able to walk for the rest of the internship, we made it on Monday. This day we were assigned to a different department, so we went to the Museum of Natural History. It was very interesting because we got to handle extremely old marine biological specimens. Our task was to top off all the containers with 70% ethanol and put them back in their exact spots. After that we had to sort jars of the specimens into their proper categories, which was a little harder but very intriguing.
The rest of the week Kitty, Isadora, and I worked with Janene and Bradley in conservation, which Kiana worked at the National Gallery. In conservation, we were tasked with a storage full of items that had been put on display in the Slave Lodge once. We had to first take a photo of its condition, write a condition report, clean it, and then take a picture of its new condition. We created an assembly line so Isadora was on photography duty, I wrote the condition reports, and Kitty cleaned the objects. It was very interesting to learn and be hands on with what goes on in conservation.
Friday was our last day and our group presentation about what we’ve learned throughout our internship. We all did not know that much about museums before this trip and gained a lot of knowledge and interest those 7 weeks. We focused on four main components on what contributes to museums: collection, conservation, education, and research. We each picked a topic to present on, mine being conservation. Conservation was a huge portion of what we learned in the internship, especially with our supervisors being Bradley and Janene who are conservationists for the Iziko Museums. I learned how much work goes into preserving the items collected for museums and was lucky to contribute myself.
After presenting we had to say our goodbyes, which was really hard for me because I had grown an attachment and appreciation for the wonderful people I had worked with. I learned so much from them and will hold this experience with me for the rest of my life. That also goes for the whole trip and everyone I had met along the way, especially Kitty, Kiana, Isadora, Marit, and Nate (and Desi of course). This was the best way to end my college career that I could’ve asked for and I thank everyone who contributed to that. Now, on to the next chapter of my life! (Which hopefully will include more of South Africa 🙂 )