Ruby Gary ’23

Carter County Museum, Ekalaka, MT

Ruby Gary '23 kayakingThis summer, I was a virtual intern with the Carter County Museum (CCM) in Ekalaka, Montana. Ekalaka is a tiny old ranching town in southeastern Montana, wielding a population of 350. The Carter County Museum is a natural history museum that focuses on the region’s geological, paleobiological, and human history. It also has and executed a number of paleontological digs and is one of the stops on Montana’s Dino Trail.

I worked under the guidance of Museum Director Sabre Moore and Museum Educator Stephen Hobe to develop two projects about culture, storytelling, resource protection, and environmental and public health. The first was to sift through CCM’s photo archives of the nearby Medicine Rocks State Park, and curate and design a virtual photography exhibit using the digital program ArtSteps. The exhibit is now available for public viewing at the museum. My second project was to write an interpretive guide for a nighttime nature walk through Medicine Rocks State Park. The guide required a visit to the park itself, and research on the local ecology, basic astronomy, and the conservation history of the site. The interpretive guide was used by CCM on their August “Star Party” event open to the public.

My internship was paired with work with Professor Robert Rydell of the Department of Museum Studies at Montana State University. I was assigned a syllabus of readings on museum philosophy, museums and communities, and a museum’s potential as a space for guiding national dialogue; and I had the privilege of meeting virtually with Professor Rydell every few weeks to discuss the readings and the role of museums, arts, and public humanities and sciences in society.

My internship with Professor Rydell and CCM was an unexpected intersection of so many of my academic interests: environmental studies, geology, public health, and cultural studies. I was able to tap into skills from my past experience in visual art and theatre design as well, and try my hand at environmental education in developing basic ecology lessons and activities for children. My conversations with Professor Rydell made me reevaluate the potential role museums can play as spaces for public dialogue and contemplation. My work with CCM has attracted me to the possibility of being involved in a museum that is committed to its local community. I am excited at diving into a place where grassroots activism and museum work intersect, and I hope to start that work back at Williams and in North Adams.

I’d like to thank the Sherns for supporting my internship with the Carter County Museum. This experience has given me the opportunity to experiment intellectually, even after the summer was unexpectedly altered.