Internship Spotlight: Sophie Thompson

I am an art history/anthropology double major. This internship was valuable to me as I am interested in working with museums and their collections and hope to enter an art conservation graduate program after my undergraduate degree. My objectives with this internship was therefore to gain experience in working with museums and learning how they operate and who they work with.

The Lachine Museum is a small community museum in Lachine, Montreal. It focuses on the area’s history from 1650-1950, with a collection made up of art pieces, archaeological artefacts, and other objects from their period. They are currently housed in the oldest complete structure on the island of Montreal, the Le Ber-Le Moyne House, and engage in many community activities and reenactments. The site also includes an outdoor sculpture garden with contemporary sculpture. My responsibilities are to mark each title in the museum’s library holdings for retention, discard, or re-evaluation, based on factors including its presence or absence in BAnQ or LAC holdings, age, and subject matter. As the museum’s focus recently shifted to exclude contemporary art, except for the pieces in its sculpture garden, there are many titles in its collections that are now no longer relevant to the museum mission. Additionally, with the building of new museum facilities and the moving of the collections, all extraneous books need to be purged from museum holdings. While I was given guidelines rather than strict criteria, over my internship I solidified my method which was to check first in the BAnQ holdings, discarding those that were present there or irrelevant (such as on the subject of contemporary art or history after 1950) and keeping those that were old or highly relevant (such as about Lachine itself), especially if they were not present in BAnQ holdings, or only represented by one copy.

Highlights of my internship included my visit to the downtown Montreal storage center shared by Montreal museums, which gave me the chance to see a curator’s duties as they work directly with collections, as well as those of conservation technicians. While I am not receiving university credit for my internship, I still found it very useful. My goal is to work with museums, and I am considering museum studies, archive work, and conservation work in future. While this experience was largely not at the museum, my first experience with museum work, remote or otherwise, is a highly important step towards my goals.

I am extremely grateful for the internship funds as an opportunity to save for graduate studies. While a remote internship was not what I originally planned for, the kindness of Dr Johansen and curator Catherine Turgeon allowed me to keep my opportunity and contribute something useful, and while the situation was not ideal, remote work allowed me to eliminate transportation costs and save more of my award for future tuition. I adapted to my remote internship primarily by checking my academic email regularly throughout the work day and keeping to a strict personal schedule.

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