Hello, I am Nathan Beamer, the intern over in the Pennsylvania State Museum’s Education Department through the Keystone Summer Intern Program. We are the friendly face of the State Museum that gets to swim though hordes of children during the spring and early summer months. My project for the summer is developing a “Stop and Learn” cart for the often overlooked Village Square exhibit on the second floor.
Basically, Stop and Learn carts are interactive displays which provide a multi-sensory lesson that enhances a guest’s experience at an exhibit. These carts are managed by docents and are tucked away in a few galleries throughout the museum. Stop and Learn carts have existed for a long time and have gone through numerous changes.
Currently, there is a push within the education department to have these Rubbermaid carts blend in with the exhibits. One example is the Stop and Learn cart in the Civil War gallery. (Shout-out to the fabrication shop for its awesome work!).
When I came up with the idea for the Stop and Learn cart in Village Square, I ran with it and literally made it into a cart. This cart will enhance the immersive environment of Village Square and breathe new life into the exhibit.
We will also have a Merchant Wagon joining the exhibit. This will contain numerous amounts of “mini lessons” such as a Pennsylvania/Quaker Spice Chest with Spices of the 1800s, Snake Oils and Home Remedies in Pennsylvania, textiles, currencies of the 1800s with modern price equivalencies and the Pennsylvania Long Rifle.
Currently, I’m working on getting authentic “medical” labels for a box of antique bottles that will be in the cart representing snake oils and home remedies. These bottles were filled with various-colored liquids and syrups. I had the opportunity to work with awesome people (Michelle, Don, and Jonathan) in exhibits and had some hands-on time constructing a few pieces of the cart, namely the Quaker Spice Cabinet. I also labeled padlocks, dealt with fake food, sized corks and a myriad of other tasks.
The Keystone internship allowed us to visit various locations for a behind-the-scenes look at sites such as Ephrata Cloister, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and even the State Capitol Dome. (Thanks Jason!)
This internship has inspired me to delve into the possibility of continuing work for museums and other history-related careers. As a social studies secondary education major with a history minor, this internship with the education department and the opportunities that have arisen have given me practical experience in public history that I hope to incorporate into future curriculums and lessons. This internship has inspired me to look into continuing my education to a master’s degree in history.
In the end, this internship kept me busy though the entire summer and I take a sense of pride from my accomplishments that I have done as a Keystone Intern for the PHMC.