I have gained myriad new skills while working on this exhibition, but "Woven Through Time" is not the first exhibit I've been lucky to be a part of. During my first summer work project, I returned to my home state of Alaska to spend the summer with objects conservator Ellen Carrlee at the Alaska State Museum (a different ASM!). I came to the museum during the last summer before it reopened after almost four years of renovations, and I worked with Ellen and two other graduate students to complete as many treatments as possible in small, temporary workspaces with minimal supplies and resources. This summer work project helped me develop resourcefulness and confidence, and taught me how to better balance speed and depth of treatments, and working on "Woven Through Time" has further built on these skills. Before these internships I hadn't quite grasped the importance of conservators in the planning and execution of exhibitions, but now I've realized how our hand skills and knowledge of objects are paramount, as well as the ability to work as a team and be an effective leader. I look forward to future positions in which I can continue collaborating on exhibits and developing these skills.
When considering where to spend my third year, ASM was an alluring place primarily due to the dynamic and exciting conservation lab Dr. Nancy Odegaard, Head of Preservation and objects conservator, has established; the lab is always teeming with amazing conservators and students working on pioneering research and projects. I was drawn in by Nancy's strong leadership and mentorship, and of course the opportunity to work with ASM's stunning collection of archaeological and ethnographic objects. The dry climate in Arizona and the abundance of caves means the incredible preservation of archaeological organic materials is completely unrivaled!
I am so grateful for Nancy and all my coworkers here at ASM; it's inspiring to work everyday with a group of brilliant women. I can't wait to see what the rest of my third year will bring, as long as I can survive the heat of an Arizona summer!
— Leah A. Bright, NEH Graduate Fellow, WUDPAC Class of 2017