Internship Blog Post- Week 2

This whole week I have been working on the same project as last week at my internship. I am updating the excel spreadsheet for the collection of mammal skulls and skins. It is a long and time consuming process and has me spending a majority of time in my office on a computer. I was however fortunate enough to get a tour of the collections on Monday and Tuesday.Currently, the various collections are spread around in whatever room they will fit in, but I was shown the new area for the collections that will be interactive with the public and hopefully operational in the next few years.

We did a lot of exciting things outside of the internship this week. On Wednesday, we went and saw two planetarium shows. They were very exciting and informative. On Thursday we went to an artist talk at the National Gallery that spoke on the topic of the challenges of preserving contemporary art. Afterwards, Mj and I went to go see a production of Kinky Boots at the Fugard Theater. It was such an incredible show, the music was great, and the performers were all extremely talented. Today we went to the Water Front Market and spent the day exploring there. Another exciting week in this beautiful country!

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Cape Town: Week 5

Week in Review –

  • Did site visits to the Castle of Good Hope, The Slave Lodge, and the Groot Constantia museums
  • Assisted with an audit of artifacts and materials at Groot Constantia for two days
  • Aided in ceramics condition reporting
  • Toured and discussed artifact storage concerns at Iziko object stores at Social History Center
  • Documented mold on Ethnographic print collection
  • Attended two meetings with the Director of Education, Hylton Arnolds, to confirm we were satisfied with our placements

Places Visited –

Places visited since Wednesday July 10th
Full Map

7/12/19- Internship Blog Post

This week was the first full week of our internship and I am very happy with how things have gone so far. I am working under the curator of mammals, Denise Hamerton, and although she was not expecting an intern, she welcomed me and made sure to find tasks for me.

So far I have gone through the complete collection of mammal skulls. My job has been to cross check them on an excel spreadsheet to make sure all of the items are accounted for. This is a good task for me because I like organizational work that I can do at my own pace. I sorted through the whole collection since I started, which is about 1,000 items.

Since I finished that and got a computer today, my next task is to add all of the unaccounted for species onto the excel spreadsheet. This is proving to take a bit of time so I’m sure it will keep me busy for the next few weeks.

This weekend we are planning on going to the food market in Woodstock. If the weather is nice, we are also going to hike to the top of Table Mountain. I am excited to experience more of Cape Town the next few weeks we are here.

Cape Town: Week 4

First Stop; South African National Gallery
The day began with a leisurely stroll over to the National Gallery – this time featuring working lights! (for the most part). We did a pretty quick stroll through the space, enjoying some of the more contemporary pieces as well as a large exhibition on David Koloane who had unfortunately passed yesterday.

While there we participated in a really interesting exercise in which we described a work to another classmate with their backs to the work in an attempt to have them sketch it. I was paired with Tariq, and (I don’t want to brag or anything but) we totally nailed it. Like you couldn’t tell the actual work from our sketches, it was absolutely brilliant.

Lunch; Gardens Shopping Center
For lunch (lattes) we commuted to a shopping center to meet Jim Sleight, Director of the University of Kentucky Cape Town Study Abroad program, and our liaison over the next five weeks to stay connected with as a part of our internship program here. He provided some insights about our experience here, and gave some great restaurant recommendations.

Afterward; Art Night
We all went our separate ways for the afternoon. We invested in some canvas and snacks before heading home to work on a SUPER SECRET PROJECT.
Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what was meant by that!!

Sunday 6/30/19

Today we had a free day and we spent it doing pretty much nothing other than relaxing and recuperating from all of the wonderful, but tiring, activities we have done so far on this trip.

So far I have been completely amazed by Cape Town. Starting from just the gorgeous view of Table Mountain from our apartment, there are so many beautiful sights around. All of the buildings have a clean cut beach vibe and I do not think I’ll ever get tired of the view of them on the side of the mountains.

One thing I have noticed is how different Cape Town is from Johannesburg. People warned me, but I was still not ready for the drastic differences. Cape Town is definitely a bigger city than Johannesburg, and people seem to live more financially comfortable here. i have also noticed that there is not nearly as much street art here as there was in Johannesburg. I got used to seeing elaborate works of art every corner I turned, but when we got here I started only seeing that kind of art on the outskirts of the city.

Both of these places have been incredible for their own reasons, and I am looking forward to discovering the quirks of Cape Town that makes this city unique over the next few weeks.

Friday 6/28/2019

Today we went to the Slave Lodge Iziko museum. There I learned that after British occupation of the Cape & the 1807 abolition of the slave trade in the British empire, this building became government offices and later the first Supreme Court. In the process the lodge was stripped of its slave history. 1998 this building was renamed the slave lodge “ remembering slaves” its a project that tells the long history of slaves in South Africa & raises awareness of human rights. Built in 1679 by former slaves. There was a Slave route map showing the Indian Ocean origins of cape slaves and the routes used to transport them to the Cape after 1658. Slaves were given outfits once a year. There were this specific exhibit I remember called My naam is februarie: identity rooted in slavery. Many slave holders reported to giving slave calendar names based in the month in which they were brought to the Cape. There was another part of the museum where they talked about Krotoa being caught in the political web from a young age. She had become the chief translator secant in Jan van Riebeeck’s household at age 10. Not a slave but never paid. Skills that she had made her valuable. As power transfers to the Dutch the Khoikhoi fought back damaging her relationship, now politicized and damaged. Locked up for a month and a half. She died on robben island at age 32 without family or friends. The Music exhibition had a song, meadowlands, written by Strike Vilakazi captures the cry of the former residents of the sophiatown who were removed to the township of meadowlands and other places. Recordings by Nancy Jacobs and sisters as well as by Miriam makeba made the song popular. Because the lyrics were in Setswanaand tsotsi taal the authorities mistakenly believed that the song expressed support for the move to meadowlands township. After the museum we had lunch at bread milk & honey. We then came back to our apartment where Nate & Marit taught us how to make stencils. We then created stencil artwork for the next 2 hours before ending our day together. 

Cape Town: Week 3

First Stop; Robben Island
For our first stop of the day we caught ferries to Robben Island, renowned home of the prison where political activists were imprisoned. We met with the museum’s African Programming Museum & Heritage Studies Coordinator Vanessa Mitchell who took us on a tour of the island. After introducing ourselves she made incredible efforts to connect what the museum does to our majors. Knowing that I am a Museology/Museography student, she made a lot of mentions related to large scale museum questions and issues that Robben Island faces, and mentioned a lot of great Museum Theory references. We explored the premises of the former prison, the leper cemetery, Robert Sobukwe House, and the former Medium Security Prison which is now home to a Multipurpose Learning Center. It was inspired to see how far the Robben Island

Afternoon Off
We got to return home for lunch.

Second Stop; Museum Night V&A Waterfront
In the evening we headed to the spectacular Zeitz MOCAA to explore. The museum was incredible, and we absolutely will be returning. As a part of the special festivities of the evening there was a huge crowd and special tours going around. After a quick hour of exploration we all reconvened in the gift shop and discussed our favorite pieces.

Concluding Notes
This city makes it waaay too easy to fall in love with it. Robben Island & the Zeitz were so incredibly different, but maintained incredibly unique and dynamic connections to South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and history. Robben Island is so much more than a prison museum – it is a multi-faceted center for cultural and historical exploration; a Natural/Environmental aspect seen in it’s National Park/Reserve Status, a Fine & Creative Arts aspect seen in it’s learning center, a Archives aspect, Historical/Political aspect, Educational aspect, ect. In this respect the island captures so many dimensions of South African culture that it distinguishes itself as a treasure in the cove. The Zeitz meanwhile is an incredibly reuse program evolved into a chic contemporary art space. It is a gorgeous representation of South Africa’s growth and overall renovation post-Apartheid and completely awe-inspiring. I can’t wait to spend more time there to really see all it has to offer, but even a small peak had me blown away. I can’t wait to explore more of what Cape Town has to offer.

Wednesday 6/26/19

This is our second full day in Cape town and luckily we had warm(ish) weather again. We started our day at 8:45 and set off to go to the Lwandle Migrant Museum. When we arrived we met up with the museum manager, Masa, and she gave us a tour of the facility.

Visiting this museum was an emotional experience because it was built almost completely around personal accounts about what life was like to be a migrant worker during the rule of the apartheid. All men who needed employment had to go live at the Western Cape in hostels to wait for a job opportunity. These men were confined in hostels with strict rules. There was two people to a bunk and 16 people to a room. There was no running water, the beds were concrete, and women and children were not allowed to stay there.

Eventually the women traveled to the Western Cape with their children to join their husbands because there was no time to start or raise a family with the parameters provided by the government. Suddenly the housing provided for 500 men was now housing 3,000 people. Whole families had no other option but to share a bed, completely eliminating the opportunity for privacy. This prompted unannounced police raids to arrest the people living there without permits and women were forced to hide in the cabinets in the rooms to evade arrest.

After the apartheid rule ended people were still living in these hostels because they had no where else to go and they had created lives there. in 2014 the government issued forced evacuations off of the municipal land. They bulldozed the neighborhoods three times but the residents would rebuild their houses the same day because they were just made from various scrap metals and cardboard. The government decided to burn the houses down after this but after a month of people being displaced they decided to build family housing in this area where people still live to this day.

We toured a hostel that has been kept in its original form to see what the living conditions were like for people during this time. It was sad to see what these people went through being forced to live in barely human conditions. Following this Masa gave us a tour of the whole community to give us an idea of how people live now.

Afterwards, we met with an artist named David and he told us his story of when he was a migrant worker. He had an interesting background, in and out of prison for working with the ANC. When he was out of jail he was forced to go underground to evade arrest again and he decided to become an artist. I am very grateful to have heard his story.

The second half of our day involved going to the Stellenbosch University Museum. We looked around at the artwork and history of the museum and learned that some people are not fond of the history of Stellenbosch because it originally started as an all white university.

We met with Bongani Mgijima, one of the founders of the museum, and he showed us a project he is working on with Michigan State. They are creating a virtual classroom where people from the two different universities can meet and have discussions and do an internship abroad program at museums in the two different areas.

After we met with him we got a tour of the art side of the museum by Ulrich Wolff. He talked to us about the struggles the university faced, like the fact that it is primarily taught in Afrikaans even though there is now a large population of english speaking students. We were fortunate enough to get to see the Imadiba sculpture, which is a replica of Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island. The walls have been reduced to the height of a bench and there are bars to represent the window in his room. This is a space meant for discussions and decompression after visiting a museum. It was the first of 25 built all over South Africa but they are planning on expanding more.

Next we met with Ricky V. to get a tour of the historical side of the museum. It is a difficult topic to discuss but he explained why it is important to have rather than trying to erase a part of history. This concluded our tour of the Stellenbosch University Museum and ended our day of excursions.

Tuesday 6/25: First day of Cape Town

Today was our first full day in Cape Town. We woke up this morning and had a meeting in our living room at about 10:00 am. We talked extensively about safety in Cape Town and emergency numbers to call if we were even in an emergency situation. We received a map of the city to use as we travel throughout the city, instead of our phones, because of the possibilities of theft. We added each other’s numbers as well as the lady who owns the building where we are residing for 5 weeks.

After our safety meeting, we walked to the District 6 museum about 20 minutes away from where we stay. As we walked, Nate and Marit informed us about the different museums that were on the way that we could potentially be working at. I was captivated by all of the scenery of Cape Town as we walked to the museum. I have never seen a city as beautiful as this, from the mountains and clouds to the water, everything is just magnificent. When we got to the museum we learned much about what the culture was like in District 6 before it got destroyed by the government. We learned that the people in the neighborhood came from many different races and backgrounds and all got along together through music, art, barbershops, recipes, etc. Many peoples stories and history was erased after district 6 was destroyed, the museum is for anyone who lived during the era or knows something about it to share with the rest of the world who never got a chance to know about it. After leaving the District 6 museum, we walked around and toured inside of the brand new center dedicated to Desmond Tutu. We talked to the project coordinator of the place and he informed us of how he first got started in his field. At first he had no idea of what he was doing but he accepted the job anyways and decided to learn as he was on the job. He has become very successful in what he does and has exceeded expectations at an early stage in his career. One piece of advice he gave was to not shy from a challenge. If you are given tasks that you know nothing about, you should accept as a new learning experience.

Once we left the center, we went to the top of signal hill where we got to see an astounding view of the city. We stayed up there for about 20 minutes and took pictures and embraced the scenery. After we left signal hill we went on a brief grocery shopping trip and had the rest of the day to ourselves.

Monday 6/24/19

On Monday we flew for most of the day. We woke up around 8:00am and left Kruger around 10:30 to drive to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport where we caught our first flight back to Johannesburg at 1:30pm. The airport was pretty small so it was easy to get around. We then flew for about 45 minutes before landing in Johannesburg. We had a layover in Johannesburg for about 2 hours. When landed we had to we re-check our bags in and go thru security again. Once we finished that we grabbed food from different spots in the airport until it was time to board our flight for Cape Town. Once we boarded our plane it took off fairly quick. the flight to Cape Town was about 2 hours. Once we got to Cape Town we grabbed our luggage and then went to a grocery store in the airport to get food for that night and next morning. After we got a rental van to drive around Cape Town for the next week. We proceeded to drive to our apartment where we meet the landlord that was very sweet and nice. She gave us a tour of our new home that we’d be staying in for the next 5 weeks. After she explained where everything was she left and so did Marit & Nate. We unpacked our luggage, ate dinner, and watched a movie together until we went to bed.