Internship Spotlight with Anna Neiblum
Anna Neiblum, BFA + BA '24, is a combined degree student studying Anthropology and Studio Art. Anna recently completed an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and was kind enough to tell us all about her experience doing archival work in the Egyptian department.
Can you start by telling me a little bit about your interests at SMFA and beyond?
My primary artistic medium is metalsmithing and jewelry, and this is my concentration at SMFA. Most of my classes are small metals classes, and I also work in the studio as a student monitor. I love making jewelry, and the amazing Metals faculty like Professor of the Practice Tanya Crane and Studio Manager Vicky Rodriguez have been instrumental in my experiences at SMFA. Outside of my art practice, I'm an Anthropology major and a lover of all things art, history, and archaeology. I'm profoundly interested in how craft and art are reflected in the archaeological record.
What attracted you to your internship?
A curatorial or collections-related job in a museum is something I've always dreamed of pursuing. I also worked at Metropolitan Museum during the summer of 2022 in their Ancient Egyptian Art department, and so when an archival job was offered in the MFA's Egyptian department, it seemed like a great opportunity to expand my museum experience to archival work as well.
How did you obtain your internship?
The application process was pretty simple—an online application and a 30-minute in-person interview.
Tell me about a project you worked on during your internship that was your favorite, the most challenging, or the most exciting.
My internship involved continuing a four-year, long-term archival project that other interns had been working on in the department. The project focused on a collection of records of tomb cards, excavation ledgers, and notebooks/journals from Harvard/MFA archaeological excavations at various sites in Egypt and Nubia. The department has been employing interns since 2018 to work on an ongoing project of digitizing and transcribing these records for historical conservation and scholarly use. I was working on records from a site called Mesheikh, which was excavated in 1912 and had over 300 tomb cards. My job was to create digital records of each card, process them through Photoshop to color-correct each, and transcribe the information written on each into an online database. The transcription was definitely my biggest challenge! But it was incredible to be trusted to contribute to a long-term archival conservation project which will improve accessibility to and understanding of these materials for future scholars and students.
What was a day-in-the-life of your internship?
I worked 9:00 am to 5:00 pm two days a week and would take the shuttle to SMFA from the Medford campus and then walked across the street to the museum. My work was primarily at the computer and desk, so that’s where I would spend most of my time in the office. I worked directly under Dr. Susan Allen and Dr. Larry Berman. During lunch, I’d either get lunch with other interns or walk around the galleries. On Fridays, we’d attend workshops with the whole internship cohort and hear from staff members around the museum about their positions and responsibilities.
What was the best new skill you learned?
During the internship, I gained numerous invaluable skills, including knowledge about handling archival documents, reading and transcribing cursive, historical and contemporary archival systems and methods, and the history of MFA archaeological excavations. I got a clear example of museum archival work, which will no doubt help me decide what avenue of museum work I'm interested in pursuing in the future.
How did your studio art skills help you at your internship?
My work was mostly digital but knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud applications that I have used at SMFA really helped me. I also had to handle old documents, and I think my experience working with my hands in the studio helped me navigate this challenge as well.
How will you translate your work experience to your studies?
I plan to pursue graduate school in museum studies or archaeology after my time at Tufts and SMFA, and everything I've learned about archival collections and record-keeping will undoubtedly be translated into my museum and art-related studies.
What was surprising or delightful about your internship?
One unexpected thing was how much of the museum I was able to see. I made an effort to spend any free time I had in the galleries, and I feel at home in the museum in a whole new way. I got to see so many amazing pieces and rooms that I never had before.
How do you see the next steps in your professional career unfolding?
This experience will be so important and helpful in my pursuit of a museum-related job in the future. I've also expanded my network of people in the field, meeting both seasoned professionals and peers my age who are entering the discipline.
Header image credit: Alonso Nichols