The Curator-in-Training program is unique to the Western Illinois Museum. The program is year round and begins April 2011. The museum seeks high school students who are curious about investigating regional history. The program builds knowledge of museum practice and professional skills. Curators-in-Training will work with museum staff and experienced volunteers who are mentors. Participants learn the components of oral and regional history.
The Curators-in-Training select from a variety of six hour modules that address professional museum practices designed to build knowledge of curatorial practice and regional history. Participants have four consecutive weeks to complete the module. Students select dates that work best for them. The museum accommodates only two students per four weeks.
Module Topic: Oral History
Interview Topics currently available
o Influential McDonough County Women
o Women's Organizations
o Women in the Armed Services
o Female Political Figures
o Professional Women
Breakdown of the six hours
o The first 1.5 hours will be spent as an introduction to the museum, museum staff, volunteer mentor, the oral history topic chosen, and the equipment for the project.
o The second 1.5 hours will be spent learning the proper use of how to care for oral histories, and the best principles and practices used when collecting oral histories.
o The third 1.5 hours will be spent collecting oral history.
o The final 1.5 hours will be spent editing, preparing for presentation, accessioning the oral history, learning the proper care of digital recordings, and evaluating their time as a Curator-in-Training.
Module Topics: Cataloguing
Cataloguing recently acquired artifacts, such as:
o 1886 Ledger from local grocery store
o 1974 autograph book
o Photographs from Illinois Porcelain factory
o WWII artifacts
Breakdown of the six hours
o The first 1.5 hours will be spent as an introduction to the museum, museum staff, volunteer mentor, and selecting the artifact they will be working on.
o The second 1.5 hours will be spent learning the Past Perfect software, artifact care, and other accessioning practices. The third 1.5 hours will be spent researching the artifact’s origin.
o The final 1.5 hours will be spent focusing on how to properly care for the artifact.
Completion of Curator-in-Training Program
Once the student is signed up for the program he or she will be asked to establish a set schedule for the four weeks that they will be working on their project. The six hours can be completed in a number of ways: the participant can choose to do the project all in one day or on multiple days during the four weeks.
The Curator-in-Training will be expected to complete the six hours within a four week period. If he or she does not complete four hours within the first three weeks, they will be removed from the program. Students’ work will benefit the museum's programs and exhibits.
Completed work from the six hour program will be incorporated into an exhibit or other museum program.