Emma Larson ’21

The Wende Museum, Culver City, CA

My work this summer as a Collections Intern for the Wende Museum of the Cold War was a truly incredible experience. Indeed, I am so, so thankful that despite all of the challenges that this summer threw our way, my supervisors and I were able to craft a memorable, beneficial, and extremely interesting remote internship for me to partake in.

Located in Culver City, California, the Wende is a collections-based research and education institute that preserves Cold War artifacts and history. With both a physical gallery space and an immense online collection, the Wende prides itself on its ability to act as both a traditional history museum which caters to the general public and as an immense resource for Cold War researchers worldwide. As a Collections Intern, my summer work focused on 
cataloguing and updating the museum’s existing collections. For example, I spent the majority of my hours with the collections of glasnost era posters. Using photographs of the works taken by my supervisors, I translated the posters, researched their context, wrote short descriptions for them all, and added them to the Selfie of Emma Larson '21museum’s database. 
Eventually, these posters and my descriptions will be included in the Wende’s rapidly expanding online collection.

I was fortunate that the Wende’s small size allowed me to interact with some of the museum’s other departments. For example, another one of my projects was researching Soviet paintings for one of the museum’s upcoming exhibitions. This entailed lots of deep-googling and translation work. It’s wild to think about all of the information we have at our disposal! In addition to aiding in research, my Russian-language skills also gave me opportunities to teach others. Perhaps the project that I am the proudest of is a handbook I crafted entitled Working with Russian: A Guide for the Non-Russian Speaker. The document provides a short overview of the Cyrillic alphabet as well as tips and tricks for pronunciation and transliteration.

While my work at the Wende was on the one hand tons of fun—I’m an utter history-nerd and spending my days looking at artifacts from my favorite historical era is a dream come true—I also recognized that it has helped me work towards many of my future professional goals. I’ve learned that I truly love museum work. Though I am perhaps more drawn to the educational and curatorial side of things, I am thankful that my time at the Wende showed me all of the collections work that goes into such endeavors. Furthermore, many of the skills I acquired throughout the summer will surely help me to market myself to future employers. I not only have mastered the art of “working-from-home,” but also am fully fluent in the language of museum databases and am a certified historical object handler. We’ll see where this all leads me, but I feel more comfortable entering the world of history, museum, 
and academia with these tools at my disposal. I am so very thankful to the Sherns for their generosity and to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for facilitating this incredible summer experience.