Curating in the Museums of Old York

Ally Laforge interning at the Old York Museums

Allyson Laforge '16, Museum Intern

Major: History

Internship organization:  Museums of Old York

During the summer between her sophomore and junior years, Allyson LaForge worked with the curator of the museums of Old York. Her activities included reearching and accessioning new objects, taking photographs, inventorying spaces, and helping with other miscellaneous projects. The mission of the Museums of Old York is to preserve and promote the rich history of the York region through programs and educational experiences.

The museums are comprised of approximately ten buildings and properties, which are all located in the town of York, Maine. Employees and volunteers at the museums provide tours of three buildings, each of which showcases a different part of York's social and political history, as well as plan functions and educational programs which help to enhance the representation of history in southeastern Maine.

Employees and volunteers at the mudums provide tours of three buildings, each of which showcases a different part of York's social and political history. They also plan functions and educational programs which help to enhance the representation of history in southeastern Maine.

Allyson's internship was multifaceted:

"I was officially invited to assist with the packing and unpacking of a new storage facility which was put on hold due to delays in the renovation of the new building. After that, I was able to explore other other museum fields, including education. I devoted one day a week to working with the museums' Junior Docent Program, where she assisted with activities such as basketry, hearth cooking, and maritime survival."

During her internship, the museum hired LaForge as an interpreter. As part of this position, she gave tours of three buildings: the Emerson-Wilcox House, the Elizabeth Perkins House, and the Old Gaol. She says,

"If I hadn't said yes to this offer- as well as pursued many other opportunities unrelated to my "official" internship position- I would not have had a museum experience as enriching and comprehensive as what I ultimately enjoyed."

She returned as a staff member to help with tavern dinners and other fundraisers duringher junior year. Laforge needed what she had learned in HIstory Classes,

"I used my background in early American and Native American history often during my work with the Junior Docents, despite a gap in Native American objects and history in the museum collections. In addition, I am bringing back multiple skills to Mount Holyoke, including a deeper understanding of material culture and public history."