Erin Benz, a student pursuing her M.A. in Museum Professions, a graduate program within the College of Communication and the Arts, is learning how to conduct inventory and catalog objects in her collections management internship at the Montclair History Center.
Benz, a Museum Registration track student, splits her time between inventorying in the research library and cataloging objects in the historic homes. “The library is a vital source for local researchers and genealogists,” said Benz. “By organizing the library materials and inventorying the newspaper collection, I am improving the research facilities offered at the History Center.”
She shared that the cataloging project in the Shultz House is currently the highlight of her internship experience. The Shultz House is one of four historic homes preserved by the History Center. Once owned by Charles Shultz, a wealthy banker, it was virtually unaltered for more than 100 years and holds an important collection that reflects his personal interests in science, the arts, and world travel. Pieces in his collection include impressionist paintings, Native American pottery and baskets, and antique scientific equipment.
“Although Shultz was a bank president, his hobby was science,” explained Benz. “He would invite people to his home to show off his collection of specimen slides, fossils, and taxidermy animals. Right now, only one room in the house has been fully inventoried. I am working on cataloging the specimen slides, which we will then input into our database.”
Benz believes her internship experience is preparing her for a future professional career in museums. “This internship is giving me real world experience in dealing with challenging collections,” said Benz. “I am handling issues such as researching and developing actions for repatriating Native American artifacts and fixing accession number concerns.”
“The course Museum Registration I with adjunct faculty member Antonia Moser helped me hone my collection management skills and gave me an introduction on how to deal with Native American artifacts found within the collection at my internship,” said Benz.
She also credits University and College resources for assisting her with securing an internship. She obtained her current position by attending a career fair on campus and networking with the History Center’s assistant director at the event.
“I encourage my peers to attend careers fairs and seek assistance from professors about finding an internship or completing a challenging project at an internship,” said Benz. “I have found the Museum Professions faculty always happy to help.”
Outside of her coursework and internship, Benz stays involved on campus. She serves as one of the Social Co-Stewards for the College’s Communication and Arts Graduate Student Association. She works with her counterpart as well as with the Public Relations and Strategic Communication Stewards to create engaging events for College graduate students.
The M.A. in Museum Professions is an on-campus program designed for individuals interested in pursuing careers in museums or related cultural institutions. Students in the program select one of four professional tracks, including Museum Education, Museum Registration, Museum Management, or Exhibition Development. All students in the M.A. in Museum Professions program complete a 200-hour-for-credit internship. A dedicated internship supervisor assists with placement and an internship directory is available to students.
The College currently offers three Master's-level programs, including Museum Professions, Strategic Communication, and Public Relations. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered. A Ph.D. program is currently under development.
Categories: Arts and Culture