A look at the History Center through the eyes of a Summer Intern

The History Center has provided me with the opportunity of seeing the inner-workings of a successful museum from a vast array of angles.  As both the public relations and development intern, each day spent at the museum was filled with new tasks, from gathering Richmond History Maker nominations to reviewing grants.  While these tasks were done behind a desk, plenty of time each day was spent around the museum and attending meetings, which provided further insight into the museum’s operations and future plans.

Every day presented itself with a new learning experience, but one of the most enjoyable projects was assisting with the Richmond History Makers program.  I was part of the process from the beginning as I gathered nominations, often getting distracted by all of the fascinating unsung heroes that were nominated.  Once the nomination process ended, our work at the museum just began as we moved towards the selection process and finally planning all of the events to follow.  This project was not only fun because I was able to learn about all of the individuals and organizations within Richmond that have not been recognized, but I have been able to follow such a large process and event from its very beginning and will look forward to seeing the final product in October.

Along with continued History Maker efforts, I was able to gain valuable experience working with the development side of the museum, from assisting with grant writing to helping set-up the museum’s new online giving site.

While all of these public relations and development projects were great learning experiences, nothing beat the fact that when I came to work I was so close to Richmond history.  While I have lived in Richmond, Virginia my whole life, I never realized all that the History Center had to offer.  On my first day I was able to take a special behind the scenes tour and I was in awe of the objects that stood in front of me – Richmond history at my finger tips.  I was able to sort through and dive into this history as I searched for weekly mystery items to post on our social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.  From the below photo posted in honor of National Dance Day to a kaleidoscope from 1890 these objects were not only interesting to find, but stood as a great way to engage the community to help everyone discover what the History Center has to offer through the vast and diverse collection of objects.

Practicing for the Junior League Follies
September 14, 1959
Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection

While the History Center is clearly here to preserve Richmond’s history, the staff and their vision are extremely inspirational as they develop new ways to stay current and engage Richmond’s diverse community with projects such as the upcoming “History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project” exhibit and their collaboration with VCU School of the Arts students who will be displaying their works and instillations in the 200-year-old Wickham house.  This balance between preservation and innovation is one that not only makes the History Center such a great asset to Richmond, but a fascinating place to work.

Rachel Wilkerson
Public Relations, Marketing & Development Intern
Valentine Richmond History Center