Seven Bermudian students recently took part in the National Museum of Bermuda’s (NMB) summer internship programme, getting hands-on work experience and training in all aspects of museum work, including learning best practices in heritage management, as well as deepening their understanding of Bermuda’s diverse history.
Through the programme, NMB interns learn historical research techniques, such as how to conduct archival research and historical investigation; collections management techniques including how to accession artefacts, and handle and document artefacts; and exhibit installation procedures.
NMB Curator, Dr. Deborah Atwood, who manages the internship programme said: “Interns are an integral part of the Museum’s team, assisting with collection management projects, conservation, research, and exhibit work. Bermuda’s cultural heritage sector has a bright future with these talented, enthusiastic students.”
As part of the programme, interns are encouraged to develop both scholarly and public history writing skills. They are asked to submit articles for NMB’s online blog, annual members’ magazine MARITimes, and NMB’s public history and academic journal, the Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History. Each intern is delegated a main research project based on their interests and studies focusing on objects and records from the NMB collections. Their research informs exhibit development and teacher and student resource guides. NMB interns also explored other cultural sites and institutions around the Island as an introduction to Bermuda’s network of cultural heritage professionals and institutions.
Former NMB intern, now Curatorial Assistant Chynna Trott shared: “The skills I have learned at the Museum elevate my understanding of Bermudian history and the history of the wider Atlantic world. The internship was invaluable to provide clarification of my chosen field and allow me to foster relationships with museum professionals. These relationships have allowed me to feel more confident in my academic career while also providing support in my professional one”.
2022 intern projects included: helping create a teacher’s resource guide on piloting and the suffragette movement in Bermuda; research on a maritime topic or object of their choosing from the NMB collection; research on the role of oral histories vs. archival and recorded histories; rehousing the Museum’s extensive shipwreck/underwater cultural heritage collection and transcription work on the Museum’s oral history collection. Input from interns is vital not just to our exhibit and education programming but also in developing and innovating the internship programme itself. As part of the internship, interns are asked to give feedback on their experience helping NMB to develop the internship programme each year, ensuring that the programme continues to grow and expand.
NMB’s 2022 interns come from a wide range of education backgrounds from history and English to communications and science. Dominique Williams is completing a Bachelor of Science, Biology, at St. Francis Xavier University (Nova Scotia, Canada); Samantha Stempel is studying Psychology at Bryant University (Rhode Island, US); Jaylen Simons studied Classics and English at King’s College London (United Kingdom); Hana Bushara completed her Bachelors in Global Studies at St. Lawrence University (New York, NY) and is currently working toward her MSc in Strategic Communications at The London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom); Yusef Bushara is studying Political Humanities at Sciences Po/Hong Kong University (Hong Kong); Amani Simons is an Ancient, Medieval and Modern History student at the University of Kent, Canterbury (United Kingdom); and Isabelle Perry who has recently completed her BA in History and International Relations at Loughborough University (United Kingdom).
Hana Bushara: “My motivation to take part in the NMB internship program stems from my passion for and interest in communication and media studies, as well as my desire to contextualize the current social and political landscape of Bermuda through gaining a better understanding of our island’s history. Paramount to the positive growth of Bermuda is an awareness of the past through which we emerged. I am excited to be mentored by passionate practitioners of history, as well working alongside a group of interns passionate about Bermuda”
Storytelling is a key component in understanding how different people experience the world and collecting and sharing those stories is essential to exploring our history from multiple perspectives. Building on from NMB’s previous workshop in Digital Storytelling, interns were introduced to the Museum’s mobile recording station, the Conversation Studio, and given an overview on how to set up the studio and collect interviews, with interns interviewing each other in short practice sessions. When asked about her experience of the internship programme Hana shared:
“This internship was a tropism which opened my eyes to a lesser known career path in Bermuda. I am passionate about preserving and illuminating stories and this internship has instilled me with foundational tools (and confidence) to continue exploring these passions.”
Jaylen Simons: “I first applied to be an intern at the National Museum of Bermuda after taking a tour of the Museum and Casemates in high school. That summer I volunteered as an intern, assisting with curatorial projects and research. Since then, my interest in Bermuda history has increased, and being an intern at the Museum has allowed me to research and learn more about Bermuda history and pursue topics that are of particular interest to me. The internship has also allowed me to gain experience and get research jobs in academia, working with professors and universities.”
While participating in the programme Dr. Neil Kennedy’s recent research findings on Benjamin Benson’s freedom narrative were published on the Museum’s blog and ignited several discussions among the interns and NMB staff. Jaylen, who’s own blog article on Mary Prince’s narrative was recently published, shared how access to and vibrant discussion of new research has motivated her to further study that area:
“Discussing Mary Prince’s Narrative and the newly rediscovered Narrative of Benjamin Benson has sparked my interest in terms of further study at university level, I’m interested in looking at the lives of these enslaved Bermudians further for a masters thesis.”
Dominique Williams: “I applied for the NMB internship this summer mainly because history, genealogy, and research are a pastime of mine and after seeing the museum’s family scrapbook initiative I thought how can I get involved this summer with learning more about Bermuda’s history. And it has been more than I could’ve imagined, spending everyday learning under so many dedicated historians has been amazing! I would recommend interning at the museum for anyone who is dedicated to learning about Bermuda’s history and our connection with the wider world or who just wants to gain experience working in a museum environment.”
The programmes weekly field trips to other cultural institutions around the island and skills learned opened up new perspectives on how we explore and understand Bermuda’s history as Dominique shares:
“Every day we learnt or saw something new, the collaborative activities with our coworkers, open conversations about all topics, weekly field trips and interacting with artefacts, which has always been a dream. Learning new information daily, especially about Bermuda and its people and how connected we are to the Atlantic World was what I liked most about the programme. It has bettered my skills in working with others in group settings, and how to better my research in terms of diversifying my resources when gathering notes ie. books, trustworthy websites or journals. And always remember that there are biases in history, and there are always two sides, two views, to a situation. And we can’t always glorify one side and not mention the other. It taught me to keep an open mind to all perspectives in whatever I learn or study.”
Yusef Bushara: I’m thrilled to be a part of the summer intern cohort at the National Museum, and to learn from some of Bermuda’s best on all things history! My interests lie in learning more about how Bermuda’s cultural heritage is constructed and preserved, about what our framing biases have historically been, and what pressures need to be exerted institutionally to make our telling of history fuller and more inclusive.
At the end of the programme, participants were asked to reflect on how the NMB internship helped with professional development and Yusef shared:
“The programme solidified for me the importance of centring my future work in the history of Bermuda. So in that regard, through this, I know that my professional development has to be intertwined with the development of Bermuda.”
Amani Simons: “I chose to do an internship at the Museum because I am studying history at university. Being at this internship has shown me how interconnected the world is and where Bermuda fits into it. I learn new things every day and it has helped widen my perspective on not just Bermuda’s history, but world history.”
When asked whether the internship programme helped with professional development Amani responded: “It gave me museum experience and an opportunity to learn more about my own history and decide on a future career path. I am now considering a Masters in Museum Studies so I can one say work at the Museum.”
Samantha Stempel: “The NMB’s internship has been an eye opening experience, exposing me to both the extensive history of the island and my place within that timeline. Not only does it make you appreciate the work that goes into preserving the country’s heritage and culture, but the importance of sharing it with others.”
Not all of our interns come from history/heritage disciplines. Samantha Stempel is currently studying Psychology but shared that the experience and skills she learned while participating in the programme can be applied beyond just the heritage field: “Being able to work in a team is important no matter what, which is something the programme really demonstrates and emphasises. Working in an office environment, engaging with various members of staff and other interns, as well as different responsibilities, are all important to develop professionally.”
Isabelle Perry: “My time volunteering for the museum in the summer of 2018 solidified my decision to study history at university. I was always interested in history but this experience showed me that it was something I wanted to pursue further. After doing research on the 1959 Theatre Boycott and 1977 Riots for my university dissertation I realised how little I knew about Bermuda history. I applied for the 2022 Summer internship as I wanted to learn more about Bermudian history and because I knew what a helpful and knowledgeable group of people I would be surrounded by. It is wonderful to be back working for the place that helped me come to my decision to study history after having recently graduated.”
The Museum is in the process of creating Teachers Resource Guides on a number of topics including, Piloting in Bermuda, the Suffragette Movement, Mary Prince and freedom narratives, enslavement in Bermuda and the Atlantic slave trade. Local and international researchers and NMB interns have been crucial in helping the team research and source content for the guides.
“I have really enjoyed doing research for the Teacher Resources Guides. I think it is extremely important as many local children and adults, including me, do not know enough about Bermuda’s history. History helps us to understand the present day and I am happy to be involved with something that will benefit so many. If anyone is interested in Bermuda history or museums in general I would highly recommend this internship. I would also recommend volunteering for the National Museum if the summer internship is not an option as it is an amazing charity that benefits the community.”
NMB offers 4-week and 8-week summer internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, and recent graduates. The NMB Internship programme is made possible thanks to the NMB Anchor Fund and a Heritage Grant from Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports. To learn more visit https://nmb.bm/get-involved/volunteering-careers/.