Meet Our Intern, Nikki


This summer we hired Ashley Nicole (Nikki) Lorenzen as our intern to process our archival collections, and she went well above and beyond! We asked her to answer a few questions about her experience so far.

1. What is your background?
I am originally from a small(ish) town in Northern California. After high school I went to a jr. college where I took an elective anthropology class and fell in love. From there I went on to get my undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte before getting my Masters in Museum Studies from George Washington University.

2. What got you interested in museum work?
I was actually drawn to museum work almost on accident. I guess I always knew that museums didn’t just run themselves but if a museum is running smoothly how they operate isn’t really the primary concern of its visitors. I just never crossed my mind that I could be one of those people until I started looking into graduate degree programs. Although I was initially accepted to GWU to continue on in anthropology with only a concentration in museum studies it became clear after a few courses that museum studies was the direction I wanted to go in and once I changed majors I never looked back.

3. What brought you to the Pioneer Air Museum?
I made my way to the Pioneer Air Museum with a good deal of luck, I think. After applying for the state museum internship program for many years unsuccessfully I was once again disappointed to find out that I hadn’t been accepted this year either. So imagine my surprise when an Alaskan phone number was calling me out of the blue. As it turns out my name was given to the PAM curator as a possible candidate for an internship here. The phone rang, I said yes, and the rest is history.

4. What is your favorite thing about Alaska so far?
My favorite thing about Alaska so far has been a tie between the people and the food. Everyone I’ve met has been so nice and friendly and overall just really willing to help out in whatever way possible. And the food is great! Although I’ve lived on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts before Alaskan fish is better! Plus I get to try things like caribou and yak.

5. What do you think of the Pioneer Air Museum?
I think the Pioneer Air Museum has a unique perspective on aviation and has a great deal to offer the community at large. All of the pieces are here and with some work and a few more interns it’ll be even better.

6. What project are you working on?
So far I am working on inventorying and cataloging the archival (photographs, letters, documents, etc) collection and inputting the information into the museum’s database.

7. What is the most interesting thing you’ve found in the archives?
One of the most interesting things I’ve found so far was a file containing newspaper articles about a shoe. Although I don’t read every piece of paper or article I find, something about this story stuck out to me. For one thing it seemed odd to me that we would even have anything relating to a shoe in an aviation museum. Well as I read on it turned out that the shoe came from the wife of an Alaskan pilot. While on their honeymoon their plane crashed, both survived with only minor injuries, and the pair had to walk over 12 miles of glacier to the nearest town to get help. The shoes the woman was wearing withstood the abuse fairly well with only their heels being worn to a sharp point. When I mentioned the article to Della, the collections manager, she became very excited and asked a lot of questions before heading off toward the entrance to the museum. It turns out we have a shoe on display that matches the description of the shoe from the article but no one knew where the shoe came from or what its story was. It was a very exciting moment to have been able to solve a mystery for the museum and one that almost didn’t happen. It’s moments like that which make museum work so interesting.

8. What are your plans for the summer in Alaska?
When I’m not at work I hope to spend my time exploring Alaska as much as I can. Which is admittedly difficult on a bicycle. However my boyfriend is coming for a visit next month and we plan on visiting Seward and Denali while he’s here. I’d really like to see a moose but so far I’ve had no such luck. Fingers are crossed, though!

9. What advice would you give someone looking to do an internship in museums?

For anyone who thinks they’d like to get into the museum field I’d say definitely try. Volunteer with museums whenever possible, though time and finances can make that difficult, and learn as much as you can about the different aspects of museum work. There are so many museums out there who need any help you can give and volunteering is one way to do it. It can also lead to an internship if that’s more what you’re interested in. As for internships, ask. Often people are willing to take on interns if you simply ask them. Or look online and apply for internships with the museums you’re most interested in. Just remember that most internships are not paid so you’ll need to have some way to cover expenses on your own. Otherwise it’s a great way to gain experience and break into the museum field from the inside. There are degrees available as well to continue your museum education. There is always something new to learn. Museums aren’t just about what’s on display; there are records to maintain, props to fabricate, exhibits to design, labels to be written, educational programs to create and teach, conservation work to preserve specimens and objects, the list is endless. Museums are a great place to work and learn and if you’re interested contact your local museum professionals for ways you can get involved.

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