During the summer Lynn Rice interned at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg. What follows is her reflection on her experience:
My project this summer was to design and install IdeaZone. This is an interactive space for families to explore and learn about this year’s state theme, the arts in Pennsylvania. This project was a test of my abilities as that I have limited background in K-12 education. At the same time, this project was a perfect fit as I have extensive experience in the performing arts. The intent of this year’s theme is to bring light to the idea that the arts are not just paint to canvas, but that it stretches across many areas, such as the stage, architecture and communications.
This internship helped me see the connection between what I study in class and practical aspects of museum work. For example, one main concept I have taken from my graduate studies so far is the concept of a’space for dialogue’. It encompasses the idea of an exhibit or room where people can have open conversation with the public historian and each other to gather their own individual experience. In IdeaZone people can do just that.
With my time working in IdeaZone, I saw a three-fold public history experience. First, I created an exhibit which takes an understanding of the audience, a focus on content, and the creativity of the historian. Second, in this space the audience has a place they feel the interaction with the content, whether it be hands on artifacts or activities for families. And third, I physically directed the exhibit, acting as the bridge between exhibit content and the public. In many ways, IdeaZone was the ultimate public history experience for both the intern and the families.