Contributed by Elizabeth Reppas, Anthony Chung Yin Woo and John Bergman-McCool
Here at the Peabody, we are fortunate to have students assist us with collections-related projects. Work duty is the primary avenue for students to help our small staff, but we also rely on non-work duty students who volunteer in various ways during their free time. As we prepare for building renovations, work duty assignments have been canceled at the Peabody for the academic year. However, a few dedicated student volunteers have continued to come each week to help us as we approach the start of construction. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their experiences:
Hi! I am Elizabeth Reppas, and I am a three-year senior from Washington DC. I have always really loved visiting museums and learning how they work, so when I learned that I could volunteer at the Peabody Institute, I was very interested. I have been volunteering since the winter of my upper year and have gotten to help with a range of projects from organizing objects to creating an exhibit.
I first started helping with inventory like labelling and sorting objects. As I learned more about the artifacts, I got the chance to help curate an exhibit with projectile points and textiles from Tamaulipas Mexico for one of the exhibit cases. I helped with all things from choosing the objects and photos for the case to writing the explanations and putting the pieces together. I finished off the year with that exhibit, which was up on display for reunion weekend. It was particularly meaningful because it was in honor of Maya Cointreau ’92 supported by her classmates. Now, this year, I have helped with smaller projects like putting together an interactive activity for the Andover Historical Society and reviewing new objects, but I have mostly been helping to sort and organize the collections as the Peabody gets ready for its renovations.
I have loved these past two years working at the Peabody. I have learned a lot about archeology and how objects are excavated. I have also gotten to learn more about Andover and places around us since many of the Peabody’s artifacts come from nearby. And lastly, and for the reason I initially joined, I have gotten to learn more about collections: taking care of objects, doing inventory, and learning about ethically acquiring, maintaining, and displaying artifacts. Overall, I love the time I have spent volunteering and am excited for what is to come with the Peabody.
I’m Anthony and I’m a Phillips Academy student volunteering at the Peabody. Currently, I’m an eleventh grader living in Tucker House on campus, though I call the city of Hong Kong my home.
Since tenth grade, I’ve been involved with the Peabody, first through the work duty program, then by reaching out to become a student volunteer. The work I do at the Peabody varies a lot, which involves hands-on tasks such as sorting through artifacts, rehousing them in small Ziploc bags, and climbing up rickety wooden ladders to correctly label the new archival boxes in their respective bays, all as part of the rehousing project at the Peabody. Other work that I’ve done at the Peabody includes writing condition reports for artifacts that are used in classes as well as packaging old pamphlets for storage. More recently, I was involved with calculating and measuring the space required for to move all the boxes from the basement to the first floor, in preparation for the renovation work that will soon commence in the building.
To me, the Peabody has always been a place where I am able to take my mind off class work and come into close contact with items from decades, centuries, or perhaps epochs ago. Having visited a fair amount of museums before, it was eye opening for me to see the massive logistical challenges and the large amount of work that the Peabody staff and volunteers have to put into overcoming these challenges, along with digitizing artifact data and developing strict procedures to categorize and label the objects. My experiences at the Peabody have allowed me to better appreciate the people who work in the field of taking care of objects that are historically and culturally significant, particularly as we investigate the previously silenced histories of subjugated people across the globe.