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Summer Staff: Joel Wodhams

Name: Joel Wodhams 

How long have you worked at MOA?

I have worked at MOA since May 2017.

What is your job title and what do you do?

My job title is “Curatorial Research and Exhibition Design Intern.” I research to develop blogs, exhibits, and internal documents for the museum to use.

How did you begin working at MOA, and what led you to this position? (Education, previous experience, passion, etc.)

I began interning at MOA for the Museum Management and Curatorship program at Fleming College. Before Fleming College, I graduated from the University of Waterloo majoring in Anthropology.

What drew you to this position? How did you hear about it?

I heard about the position from one of my instructors at Fleming College. I studied archaeology in university, and the chance to work with artifacts drew me to the position.

What do you love about being a staff member at MOA?

I’ve loved all the opportunities for me to learn while I’ve been a staff member at MOA. More than the “academic” skills, I’ve been able to work on my hand skills. This has been something that I have struggled with for a long time. While at school I could not cut a piece of foam core (the material we mount museum panels on) to save my life. My cuts were always jagged, crooked, and rough. While my cuts are not perfect, they are so much better now than they used to be!

If there was one thing you could tell the world about MOA, what would it be?

Give the virtual reality exhibit a try! It’s so much fun and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Few museums have this type of resource, especially smaller specialized museums like MOA. It is such a great opportunity. The current long house virtual exhibit combined with the reconstructed long house is an immersive way to explore life in the past.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I am wrapping up a few of my projects as my internship ends very soon.

I’m in the final stages of my part of the harvest festival exhibit. I’m deciding what objects will be on display, designing the panels, and creating a floor plan.

There are a few odds and ends that I’m also taking care of in this last week. There are some labels and signs in the gallery that I need to replace and adjust.

How has your job changed since you started?

At the start of the internship, I focused on research. While I did learn about the archaeology of Ontario in school, there was still a lot of catching up to do. Once I caught up, the research shifted to creating the resources I would need for my exhibit projects. These were updating the Southwestern Ontario: 13 000 Years of History Exhibit and the Farming Before Canada: The Harvest Season at the Lawson Site.

Ever since around mid-July, my main focus has been on designing and writing for these exhibits.

What advice can you give others?

When you think about archaeology and artifacts, remember that archaeology is about people. It sounds silly to say, but an actual human person made each artifact in our collection. I don’t think those of us who present archaeology to the public focus on this aspect as much as we should. Archaeology is only interesting and valuable because it tells us about humans in the past.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing? (What are your hobbies/interests?)

A weird ‘hobby’ that I have is that I like to explore in Google Earth. It’s nice to drop down into street view and explore a town or city that you will never go to, or revisit places you’ve been. You can even explore some museums that way!

Have you had some memorable experiences at MOA in your time here?

I have!

I never had the chance to go on any archaeological digs. I did not get the chance to experience the joy of discovery that is such an important part of archaeology. While I was cataloging a box of artifacts I found a broken tool that I was sure I had cataloged before.

When I went through the box to double check, I found the tool that I thought I cataloged. It turned out that the two pieces fit together! A small experience, but for me it let me feel a part of the discovery aspect of archaeology.

Do you have a favourite moment or story you would like to share?

I get lost on my way into the reconstructed village every single time I try to walk through the palisade. There is a small maze when you walk through the opening, and without fail I hit several dead ends before I can get in! It’s not a difficult maze—I just have a horrible sense of direction!

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