Internship Reflections

During my internship at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, I’ve learned about the role of the digital public humanities in a large museum setting. One of the most striking aspects of this experience has been the collaborative nature of the projects I’ve been involved in. Working with various teams, including communication and advancement teams, fabricators, and registrars, as well as outside contractors has underscored the importance of effective collaboration and communication. The team leaders do a lot of coordination to keep everyone on the same page and moving forward. I’ve appreciated seeing how different perspectives come together to shape the final outcome of a project.

Along with an appreciation of the number of people who work on an exhibit, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of exhibit creation. From proofing meetings to research for interactive elements, I’ve been part of the meticulous planning and execution required to bring a museum exhibit to life. This hands-on experience has given me a newfound appreciation for the time and effort invested by museum professionals behind the scenes.

I’ve also learned more about the integration of digital elements into exhibits. Being involved in creating digital components such as virtual “gifts” for visitors has highlighted how curators try to extend the museum experience through digital technologies and engage audiences in new ways. It’s been interesting to see how digital platforms are being used to present material and how they relate to the exhibit’s historical narratives.

Throughout this experience, I’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of audience engagement. Whether it’s developing marketing strategies for exhibits or the exhibit itself, audience needs and perspectives must be central to our work if it’s to have the reach and impact we are hoping for. However, exhibits and their digital components could be better utilized in teaching historical thinking, and curators and developers need to ensure that digital platforms communicate more than just information.

I’m curious to continue learning about the impact of digital technologies on the construction and communication of historical narratives in museum exhibits. How do these technologies influence the way we understand and interpret history? Can they provide opportunities to demonstrate and have visitors practice historical thinking? Could digital elements reveal the sources that inspired the exhibit ?

As I move forward, I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned and continue to push the boundaries of digital engagement with sharing historical thinking and connecting with the public.