A New World of Opportunities
August 20, 2010
A world of opportunities opened up for Emily Banas '11 when she was hired as an intern for the Stonehill Industrial Center's Shovel Preservation Project in the spring of 2008. Now eager to pursue a museum career, she also recently completed a rigorous six-week summer art museum program at Smith College following her internship.
Throughout her 18-months working on the Stonehill preservation project, which conserved the historic shovel collection from the Oliver Ames Company, Banas (pictured above with fellow intern Jaqueline Henry '11 and former Curator of Stonehill's Industrial History Center Greg Galer) received an in-depth, hands-on education on curation and museum object & paper conservation treatment not many undergraduate students have the opportunity to experience.
Working with conservation expert Rika Smith McNally and Galer, Banas helped restore the 755-shovel collection through a $56,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
"It opened the door for me to the world of museums, especially coupled with the art history classes I was taking at the same time," says Banas, who transferred into Stonehill as a sophomore in the fall of 2008. "Realizing there was this whole different world out there of things I was interested in and passionate about was such a turning point."
Banas learned about the internship through her roommate, Jacqueline Henry '11. The two worked closely with McNally and Galer on every facet of the conservation treatment program.
"They had so much faith in us. Rika and Greg worked closely with us to teach us everything about conservation and how a collection is managed. Greg trained us on database work too," notes Banas (pictured left with McNally).
From photography and writing reports to analyzing and "rust busting" objects, Banas mastered skills that normally take years to learn. Last summer, she worked full-time at the History Center, refurbishing close to 400 of the 755 shovels largely on her own, with little day-to-day oversight required, according to Galer.
"She showed skills and aptitude from the beginning and demonstrated a natural aptitude and level of care that made me and Rika very comfortable with her work on the collections' unique objects."
Despite Galer's departure from Stonehill in the fall of 2009, the project finished ahead of schedule this past May, thanks in large part to Banas' dedication. Now Vice President of Collections and Exhibitions at the nationally known New Bedford Whaling Museum, Galer speaks of the work of Banas and Henry with pride.
"During my decade at Stonehill I was adamant that the Industrial History Center provided a unique hands-on opportunity for students. The conservation project and others at the Center demonstrated that given exposure and real museum experience, Stonehill students can find themselves excited about pursuing careers they probably never would have considered otherwise. I'm excited to follow Emily's career path which began with our project."
"I was sad when the project was over because it was such a big part of my Stonehill career," says Banas.
"I had started it the semester after I transferred here. It's a great feeling knowing I played a part in something that is so important to Stonehill's history and it's something I will always be proud of."