Eleanor’s Adventures in Wonderland

Two summers ago, I went “down the rabbit hole” of dollhouse furniture in the Museum’s collection (https://bostonchildrensmuseum.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/down-the-rabbit-hole/) With hundreds of pieces of previously uncatalogued dollhouse furnishings, one of my interns finally picked up where I left off. Read more about her adventures in here with Boston Children’s Museum collections…

IMG_7593My seven year old self would be extremely jealous of the position I’m currently in. For the past few months I’ve been helping digitize records of Boston Children’s Museum’s dollhouse furniture collection as the Growdon Collections Intern. Growing up an avid doll-lover, memories of playing with my own dollhouse are some of my strongest; and one of my favorite places to go – and drag my unwilling family to – was an independent doll and dollhouse store. Getting the chance to dive headfirst into the endless drawers of miniatures at Boston Children’s Museum is literally my childhood dream!

It’s my last day as Growdon Intern and as I look back fondly on my time here, I’m astounded at how much I’ve learned. It’s hard to appreciate the work the Collections team does when visiting Boston Children’s Museum for a short time, with 24 window displays, and special programs only showing a small percentage of the range of over 50,000 objects!

The importance of the collection at Boston Children’s Museum is often forgotten. My insight into the thought and curation behind exhibitions and programs from this department only emphasizes just how significant it is. The opportunity that young people have at Boston Children’s Museum to explore artifacts and objects curated for them, relating to the exhibitions and experiences they interact with throughout the building is unparalleled. In education programs featuring collections, children are given the time to appreciate and interact with museum collections in a way that other institutions may not have the ability to imitate.

Getting up close and personal with the amazingly intricate pieces that make up the Museum’s dollhouse furniture collection has been such a fantastic experience. As an Art History graduate, learning about museum storage, digital and hard copy records, and collection’s management has been invaluable to me, and the experience here will no doubt help as I figure out the next steps in my career.

My role saw me mainly assisting the Collections team with their extensive workload, as they digitize all of the collection records. In focusing my attention on dollhouse furniture I was able to work more efficiently – as well as get a little nostalgic! The miniature furniture is a great example of how vast and diverse the Museum’s collection is, and although it only takes up a small amount of drawers in storage, I was able to have a peek through some of the other shelves, finding myself completely in awe of the incredible artifacts from all over the world. You could spend days examining the Native American collection alone!

I also got to join the Collections team on a field trip to the Concord Museum, where we were given a behind the scenes tour of their storage, and got to explore the museum, with exhibits all about their fascinating local history. Following the Collections Manager as she installed various windows gave such great insight into curation and highlighted the collaboration between all staff throughout Boston Children’s Museum. Taking advantage of inter-departmental staff meetings and helping with the newest staff window allowed me to meet more of the wonderful people working all over the Museum, and I was constantly blown away by the strong work ethic, kindness, and passion of everyone I met.

I return home to Ireland in August with a heavy heart, but so grateful to have finished out my time here working with Boston Children’s Museum. I wish I could sit amongst this wonderful, inspiring collection forever, but I’ll just have to remember all the good times (as well as following all antics with @bcmcollections, of course!)

Eleanor Costello is an Art History graduate from Dublin, Ireland. She has spent the past year in Boston and has been Growdon Collections Intern at Boston Children’s Museum since March. She returns to Ireland in August looking to continue to gain work experience in creative fields. After months of working with miniature furniture, she is looking forward to rummaging through her parents’ attic and pulling out her own childhood dollhouse again!

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