As I hope you have all heard, the Marin History Museum is currently hosting a new exhibit entitled “Justice and Judgment” which premiered on October 29 and will remain open to the public until the spring of 2013. The exhibit works to uncover the story of Marin’s law enforcement and emergency services and sheds light on the history of the court of law in the county. Within this narrative, there are three interrelated yet unique subjects of historical study. In “The ‘Q:’ San Quentin State Prison,” the fascinating, if not grisly, history of the county’s landmark prison is divulged in a celebration of the institution’s 160th anniversary. On hand are a variety of artifacts from the San Quentin Prison Museum in honor of the occasion. “Behind the Badge: Marin’s First Responders” focuses on the development and role of Marin’s agencies of law enforcement and emergency services in the county’s rich history. To finish off the exhibit, “Marin County Courthouses: Laying Down the Law!!!” highlights the history of the court of law in Marin.
As a member of the Marin History Museum community that was intimately involved in the creation of the novel “Justice and Judgment” exhibit, I would like to speak to my own experiences within the creation process. This past summer, I served as an intern in the curating department under curator Holly Gallagher. As a history major who is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in public history to prepare for a career in curating, my work with the Marin History Museum provided me with critical opportunities to engage in the curatorial process. My work focused on the “Behind the Badge: Marin’s First Responders” section of the exhibit. I helped Holly out with any and all research necessary to uncover the history of the diverse law enforcement and emergency service agencies in Marin County, participated both alongside Holly and on my own in meetings with many of these agencies to gather information and artifacts, and kept track of the information and artifacts gathered throughout the summer. At the end of the summer, it was my job to type up all of the information that I had gathered throughout the summer in an organized and coherent manner. My work with MHM was very much a learning experience for me in the best way possible. Not only did I genuinely enjoy my work and all of the members of the Marin History Museum community that I met, but I was given the opportunity to apply my research and writing skills that I had learned in the classroom to a practical worldly situation. I learned how to navigate the stacks of boxes full of artifacts in the museum’s collection and how to properly handle certain types of historical artifacts, such as old hats, in addition to honing my research skills. At times, my work brought me into contact with other parts of the exhibit, such as when I accompanied Holly and some MHM volunteers to the San Quentin Prison Museum (located on the grounds of San Quentin itself) to inspect and transport artifacts for “The ‘Q:’ San Quentin State Prison” exhibition. Every step of the way, I gained a new appreciation for all of the behind-the-scenes work of putting an exhibit together, from the birth of an idea for a fascinating historical study to its fruition in the form of a finished exhibition. My work with MHM provided me with a critical foothold into the world of public history and museum studies outside of the classroom, and for that I am truly grateful.
That being said, all I can hope for is that you enjoy the MHM exhibition “Justice and Judgment.” So come on out to the Boyd Gatehouse and take a look for yourself. Enjoy!
This post is created by Marissa, intern at MHM.