I have been volunteering at the Evansville African American Museum since 2012. I first found out about it through the museum studies class offered here. I have loved it there. My main role was helping to accession new pieces in the collection. I have handled a WWII military jacket, Liberian statuettes, a slave quilt, and many other wonderful artifacts. I was also able to help the curator, Ms. Brittney Westbrook, set up a few exhibits. Ms. Westbrook is amazing. She will take the time to show you multiple ways a collection can be managed. I have learned how to store and clean artifacts as well as how to label them with accession numbers and how to handle many different pieces. She has taken so much of her time to educate me one on one and made me feel like I have the skills and abilities I need to succeed. This museum is unique because it focuses on Evansville history within the context of the rest of the nation.
I have helped out with office work as well when Ms. Westbrook couldn’t be there and was able to meet the rest of the staff who are upbeat and as nice as can be. It really helps you understand what goes in to running a museum on a small scale, everyone has so many different things they do. I have even worked on mailings with Ms. Westbrook!
The museum is always looking for new volunteers and interns. You don’t have to be interested in collections to go there. They are looking for a wide range of interests and a great attitude. It’s a great place to have on your resume and Ms. Westbrook is definitely willing to write a reference for you, I know I have her as one of mine. It’s close to campus and even if you can only spare an hour a week its worth it. If you volunteer or intern there be ready to be hands on with artifacts and possibly meet some of Evansville’s own historical characters.
Working with Ms. Westbrook and the rest of the staff has been amazing. I am glad I got to be part of the museum for the time that I was. I highly encourage anyone looking for experience, especially in collections, to go their way.