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Collections Care and Management at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Student Researcher: Breann Young, Fine Arts Major, Art History and Chemistry Minors

Mentor: Catharine Hawks, Museum Conservator, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Project Description: Breann Young had the opportunity to work in the Conservation Department of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for ten weeks during the summer of 2015. Breann simultaneously completed her summer internship under the supervision of Catharine Hawks, the Museum Conservator, and pursued independent research of her own. For her internship, she took inventory of non-accessioned props and mannequins from previous Anthropology exhibitions, particularly American Indian exhibitions, searching the museum and the off-site storage location for such items as taxidermied wolves, donkey saddles, and small boat models. The process of item location and inventory that she pioneered will be used as a prototype for future inventory projects in departments across the National Museum of Natural History.

Breann YoungShe also volunteered her time in the Conservation, Botany, Fluid, and Vertebrae Paleontology collections, picking up valuable additional skills and knowledge. For instance, under the direction of world-renowned forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley, she learned how to clean and consolidate skeletons, working on a family of 17th-century skeletons; performed "rapid capture" digitization on botanical specimens; assisted with a fluid survey on birds stored in alcohol; and worked in the Fossilab, a public "fishbowl" laboratory where she removed and sorted microfossils from dirt collected from a site in Montana.

Following graduation in May 2016, Breann plans to return to the Conservation Department at the National Museum of Natural History, working on a wide array of collections projects similar to the ones she worked on this summer. Because of her experiences at this museum, she now looks forward to starting a career in natural history conservation, physical anthropology, and bone treatment.




September, 2015