Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fanshawe Pioneer Village

One of the things i like about the UWO Public History grad program (other than it being a one-year non-thesis program) is that we have the opportunity to do a research assistantship rather than a teaching assistantship.  Even better, we have the opportunity to complete this RA at one of the local historical institutions.  Earlier this summer, our program director contacted us with a list of institutions and research projects form which to choose.  I submitted my top three, and waited to hear back.  I was thrilled to be placed at my top choice: Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

Now, those of you that are familiar with my work experience know that I worked at Greenfield Village for several years.  FPV is a similar living history institution, although it is smaller in scope.  To quote their mission, "Fanshawe Pioneer Village will partner with the community to educate about the past, collect and preserve local history and accurately interpret one century of time from 1820 - 1920."  They collect an preserve objects and building to tell the story of the founding and settlement of London up to 1840 and the settlement and rural development of the former townships of Westminster, London, West Nissouri, North Dorchester, Delaware and Lobo 1790 to 1920.

This year I will be working with the Director of Operations/Curator.  I am excited and a little apprehensive because I do not have any curatorial experience.  However, I have decided that I want to diversity my museum work outside the comfort zone of interpretation and special events.  Many smaller museums require their employees to be jack-of-all-trades, so the more varied my skills the better.  It sounds as if I will involved in two projects.  I'll be working on digitizing their collection records - which is also good registrar experience - as well as assisting in closing down the buildings and reopening them in the spring.  With the latter, I will get some hands-on artifact experience as well.

My first day was this past Friday, and wasn't quite sure what to expect.  It started out with the typical new job paperwork, and some training videos to watch as well as reading to do.  In the afternoon, one of the educational program employees took me on a guided tour of the Village.  Following the tour, I was given a crash course in PastPerfect, the collections management software most Canadian museums use.  It was practically an avalanche of information to absorb!

Everyone was welcoming and it seems like a wonderful work environment.  I believe I lucked out and am in for a great time, and a fantastic experience to add to my resume.

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