Last summer I interned at Museo de las Americas (Latin America Museum) in Denver, Colorado. I had the opportunity to assist all staff in their departments: Education, Public Relations, Grant Writing, and Collections. In the second week of my internship, after they found out that my interests truly lay in Collections and that I had background experience maintaining the collections of museums, they decided to assign me to the Collections department for the remainder of my internship.
I worked on updating the Past Perfect database and ensuring that the artifacts were indeed in their appropriate location in the Collections room, analyzing the Pre-Columbian artifacts, amongst other artifacts and created informative flyers for Museo’s upcoming auction of their collections. Nathan Bufe, the museum’s Collections manager, were only employed on Fridays, which meant that from Tuesdays to Thursdays, I was on my own. Whilst being on my own, and being responsible for the collections were a huge task, I noticed a lot of discrepancies within the information for artifacts and some artifacts were either missing or misplaced.
I brought up the concerns to the Museo director, Maruca Salazar, and she said that she did not know about some of the artifacts but she is well aware that the collections do need more preservation or at least a budget for conservation opportunities. She informed me that it is unfortunate that museum has none, or had set apart a very little amount of money for collections. The entire reason falls on the Board of Trustees and their decision to overlook or neglect the importance of collections and to not set aside funds directly for collections. As for grants, there are minimal opportunities for funding for collections from grants, as well.
The dire concern for collections had been a long issue within museums nationwide, whether they may be local or publicized. I first noticed it when I worked in a local museum in Florida, then again, in Washington State, and now in Denver, Colorado. It seems like they all had one thing in common: there were no archaeologists ensuring the care of collections, or at least, create a system of preservation methods for the museums. This was a concern I brought up, and presented a poster, at Texas Archaeological Society (October 28 to 30, 2016 weekend) Conference. It went very well; a lot of archaeologists there agreed with my poster and were amazed at the lack of association within the gap between museums and archaeologists. They all agreed on one thing: that the collaboration between these two fields needs to be recognized and interacted.
Overall, my internship last summer had taught me a lot of things, one of being is that the collections are an important task and should not be overlooked. As an archaeologist, it is also our duty and responsibility to ensure that the museums do not falter or ignore collections. Collections are the ultimate library for historic information about our natural heritage (Ferner et al. 2005).