I spent my sophomore year of Spring 2013 in Washington D.C. I interned at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Old Town Alexandria for four days a week working 8 hour shifts. This Memorial was built by donations from Free Masons in the early 1920’s and was fully constructed by 1932. The Memorial was built to honor George Washington and Masonry around the world. The website to the Memorial is here, http://gwmemorial.org/index.php.
At the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, I was working doing many different tasks. In general, I was acting as the assistant curator. My tasks were to inventory, catalog, rehouse artifacts, and to clean. I was asked to inventory the entire collection of artifacts that have been collected over the last hundred years and it ended up being around 1,100 objects. This included checking to make sure all objects were labeled correctly, had files, photographs, and were in the database correctly. This process ended up consuming most of the Tuesdays and Wednesdays I worked. Then on Thursday I was asked to catalog all the incoming donations to the Memorial. Normally this would not be a hard process, but there had been a backlog of artifacts from the last 7 years and it became a tedious task with scattered paperwork and artifacts. On Fridays I worked on fixing and cleaning a floor that consisted of many pamphlets and books of Proceedings from Lodges around the world. This floor was not meant to be used as storage for periodicals since it is not adapted for them. Books have been tossed around in this area and has not been organized and sorted in over 60 years. I spent a lot of time removing items that did not belong. A good analogy would be like sorting the laundry. A person first needs to separate the white clothing from the black clothing before one can wash and pair items up.
Of course there was a lot more work that I did, but my overall tasks for the months had been completed. I did a complete inventory of the Memorial which has not been done in years. I accessioned artifacts in the collection, which ended up being around 300 objects compared to the hundred of items being left a muck. Lastly I organized and cleaned a storage area that needed a complete overall which involved lifting and moving of thousands of periodicals that accumulated over decades.
This internship opened my eyes to the life of a Curator and I cannot thank my boss Mark Tabbert enough for everything he has taught me and for what he did for me. I learned that with hard work and bonding, one may always be welcomed with open arms and I hope to come back to the Memorial and visit all the friends I had made and cherish the work I completed over the course of my time working there.