Brenna Haley is a Public History intern that is currently showcasing her abilities at the Wayne County Historical Museum. After realizing her passion for libraries at a young age and discovered Ball State’s History program, she naturally gravitated toward her internship at Wayne County Museum. Brenna Haley aims to use her expertise in handling certain objects in the museum space to highlight her future career.
How did you decide you wanted to pursue a degree in Public History?
I decided to pursue a career in Public History after taking a required United States History class in 11th grade. My teacher was new and made the class a lot of fun, which is what led me to history. I’ve always loved museums and the thought of working in one and getting to be there every day was just so exciting to me. When I found the Public History program at Ball State University, I knew it was perfect for me!
What made you interested in this specific internship?
I am interning at the Wayne County Historical Museum. It is very small, so it means I have a lot of opportunities to be hands on with objects and displays. I’ve even got the opportunity to work on a very important (secret) exhibit coming in the next few months that I would have never been able to work on if I had gone to intern at another museum!
What does a typical say at your internship look like?
A typical day for me starts around 9am. I get to the site and either continue my work from the day before or wait for a new assignment. In the next week, I’ll be working on organizing some of the collections, in the room known as Area 51. I work until 4pm every day and for two weekends in October, I will be working from 6-9pm for our Haunted Museum event!
What specific tasks do you perform?
So far, I have been working mostly with collections. I have learned how to enter objects into the collection and write up the information sheets about them. I have also been doing organizational work so that objects in the library (where our office is) are in areas that are more accessible and that make more sense (like our collection of yearbooks, dated between the 1800s and 1999).
What are the most valuable skills you I have gained your from internship?
I think my most valuable skill gained has been learning how to handle objects. Each object has different care requirements, like what can be touched with bare hands, what requires nitrile gloves, what requires fabric gloves, and what objects must be protected by cases or boxes, rather than just sitting on the shelves.
What is the most fulfilling part of your internship?
I feel very fulfilled when I have a clear visual on the work I’m doing. This means when I have a large pile of books or photographs that I’ve finished, and I can clearly see what I’ve done and how much of it is done. One collection I worked on was a huge stack of photographs from a local photography studio that had recently closed. I spent close to two weeks going through all the photographs, numbering them, and scanning them into the collection’s software. Finally, I move them to their permanent locations. I think it’s very fulfilling to see how much I’ve done and how much it has helped me already in learning how to manage those objects.
How do you think your education will prepare you for the future/your future goals?
I think my education will be useful in my future career. I have come so far already in just the two months I’ve been interning and have learned so much that I know will be used in my day-to-day life once I have a real job. Reading about how to work with objects is a lot different from doing it, so I know that I owe a lot to this experience, and I will be using these skills for the rest of my career.