Posted on 16 September 2014
During my Public History MA one of the greatest opportunities I have had is the possibility to undertake a work placement as a part of my degree and also the chance to apply for a paid summer internship through IPUP. When we were e-mailed the summer internship options and encouraged to apply for them, I immediately wanted to apply for the internships hosted by the Mansion House, a fantastic 18th century civic property owned and managed by the York Civic Trust and City Council.
Both internships were advertised as research-based and the main focus was meant to be on researching the silver plate collections of the Mansion House and researching 18th century dining and food. The original output was described as being a bibliography on either topic depending on which internship option I might be successful in applying for. After applying I soon found out that myself and another student from the MA Public History programme were selected for the two internship opportunities hosted by the Mansion House.
After a meeting with the internship supervisor of the host organisation, it was agreed that we would independently research some themes that the Mansion House were planning to build their future exhibitions around. This felt like an extremely exciting opportunity and the chance to help the Mansion House with their Heritage Lottery Trust funding bid by creating material for possible future exhibitions sounded even better to me than the original idea of creating a bibliography!
Most of the internship consisted of independent research on topics we had discussed and agreed to focus on with the internship supervisor. My research focused on the history of the tea trade and establishing connections between tea trade, tea merchants and shipping with the city of York. The host organisation were very supportive about focusing my research on something I found interesting and enjoyable, whilst still meeting their needs and providing them with a final project which would be of use to them in the future.
I was also given the opportunity to participate in the execution of two open days, carried out over a single weekend. During both open days I was supervising children’s activities and answering visitor questions on the future plans about the Mansion House. It was a brilliant opportunity to find out how interested the local community and out of town visitors both were about turning the Mansion House in to a museum. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to discuss the history of the house as well as it’s present and future with members of the public and I believe I truly gained an understanding about how many people are interested in visiting historic properties especially if they feel they can relate to the themes of future exhibitions.
At the end of the internship, me and my intern colleague provided the internship providers with an extensive information pack about our chosen research topics and were assured that our research would be of great use to the Mansion House. Overall, I found the internship a great opportunity to develop my research skills and to be involved with a local museum and provide useful information and input to the organisation during it’s development. I thoroughly enjoyed the internship and would recommend an IPUP internship to any student looking for work experience and a way to develop their museum and heritage industry skill set.
Public History Internship