Have you ever found yourself wondering what goes on behind the display case? Curious about what museum employees actually do beyond dusting off old artifacts, and putting up “no touching” signs? I certainly have.
My name is Theo Koda, and I am a student of Anthropology at Brown University. This summer I am a registration intern at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. My time here is devoted to the documentation of a collection of African objects — as well as the execution of any other tasks that need my attention. This collection was acquired by the donor in 1964-65 while he was working in Gabon with the Peace Corps. It is filled with fascinating objects, but it also contains extensive records of his training, trip, and collection efforts. These enrich the collection — adding much needed context to already intriguing materials.
The road to this internship was a winding one. Over the four years I’ve attended Brown University I’ve worked with the Haffenreffer in some way every semester. However, I never truly got to know the Museum. My experiences were always tangential: among them visits to the Collections Research Center in Bristol, RI, work in the CultureLab on campus, and leading programs with the Museum´s Union of Student Educators. But with each experience I grew more curious, until I finally sought out an internship. This is my final summer as an undergraduate student, but it is shaping up to be filled with newfound knowledge and skills.
During my internship, I am keeping my own blog (From Data to Anoxia: The Experiences of an Intern at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology) to serve as a repository of notes and anecdotes based off my experiences working in the museum. Short, sweet, and lighthearted, they provide a glimpse into life behind the scenes.
The Haffenreffer Museum has shaped my education. From the moment I first stepped foot in CultureLab it piqued my curiosity, and with each new experience it has drawn me deeper into the world of museum work. It has proven to be worth it. Every day I make some new discovery about objects I’m working with, or museums in general, and it just makes me want more.