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Internship at The Lincoln Presidential Library


By Elena Popchock '13

I was very fortunate to have such an extensive internship experience at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois last summer.  As an Exhibit and Collections intern, I spent time in the conservation lab, workshop, photo lab, graphics lab, and exhibit spaces.  Since most of the exhibit work is done in-house, I could not have chosen a better place to learn such a variety of skills for exhibit development.   I had the opportunity to design and make labels for cases, conduct research for an online exhibit on Mary Lincoln, and prepare highlight cases for Mary Lincoln and Springfield poet, Vachel Lindsay.  I also cleaned the exhibits, photographed and accessioned artifacts into the collection, and conducted museum inventories.  In the workshop, I learned how to router, sand, and burn-polish Plexiglas to make artifact mounts.  I also helped design and construct a kiosk for a traveling exhibit.

Even though I did not have a background in conservation, I was fortunate enough to work with the conservator for over two weeks.  In the conservation lab, I cleaned, deacidified, encapsulated, and matted documents.  I also mended tears with strips of tissue, removed adhesive residue using methyl cellulose, and humidified and ironed out folds in documents. This internship provided me with the opportunity to explore a variety of museum functions, including conservation, which in turn enabled me to narrow my career path.

While at the museum, I was most grateful for the chance to work so intimately with precious Lincoln documents and artifacts.  I was also privileged enough to receive two tours of the highly secure Lincoln Vault by the curator of the collection.  I saw the 13th Amendment, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, Mary Lincoln’s jewelry, and Lincoln’s presidential wax seal and White House portfolio.  I also got within inches of Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, twice!  While at this internship, I explored the museum profession and gained valuable hands-on experience, all while immersed in the history of our sixteenth president.

Rebinding a book in the Conservation Lab.

Standing outside the Library.

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