Posted March 29, 2018
Ohio History Connection Externship Journal
On the second day, I started by labeling another bag of artifacts. Then, a shipment of artifacts from ODOT arrived, and I helped Linda take inventory. Taking inventory and making sure everything arrived as shipped was a fairly time intensive process. For example, small bags containing dozens of shards of glass or tiny pottery fragments had to be counted to assure they matched the expected item count. Linda informed me that for any project that involves federal money, an archeological survey must be taken first to assess the potential of the construction site. If the survey and subsequent test pits show the site contains artifacts, the project area must be excavated. This results in a constant flow of artifacts being turned over from these construction and road projects to the museum.
Next, I observed a meeting that concerned the massive data transfer the museum is currently undertaking. The switch from one database to another has been an intense process, since each of the millions of entries need to be considered and reconfigured. This has brought up a few interesting questions. For example, is a pair of shoes considered one item or two? What about a set of cookware or a single medicine kit that includes multiple medical items? The meeting also concerned adding more modern artifacts to the museum, for example, Silly Bandz. I happened to be wearing Silly Bandz at the meeting, and I felt old hearing someone talk about putting something I was wearing into a history museum. Something that also stood out to me in the meeting was that out of the 9 people in the room, 8 were women. It was refreshing and encouraging for me to see that.
After the meeting, I went on a tour of one of the other warehouses in the lot. This warehouse contained the natural history related collections. I got to hold mammoth and mastodon teeth as well as giant chunks of minerals. I saw the skull of an ancient giant beaver, and I learned that these massive creatures likely didn’t use their front teeth for gnawing trees, as modern beavers do. One of the curators in the natural history collection showed me her three live snakes she keeps in her office. She held her Western Hognose snake in her hands and let me pet him.
After the tour, I labelled another set of artifacts and called it a day.