Monday, May 23, 2011

Star Wars Day

This past Saturday was Star Wars Day at the Higgins. When I arrived to take photos, the line to get in was way out the door! All the museum guests looked like they were having a great time with the Star Wars characters who visited from the New England Garrison of the 501st Legion and Alderaan Base of the Rebel Legion. The Higgins Sword Guild and Doshi-Kai Kendo Dojo also joined in for some lightsaber demos. The helmet in the last photo was passed around during a presentation on creating plastic armor. Very cool!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Last Day

Today was my last day as an intern at Higgins. The staff surprised me with a get together over pastry to thank me and wish me luck in the future. Many thanks to them from me as well! Furthermore, this evening was the opening reception and ribbon cutting for the new Castle Quest gallery, which I photographed as usual.

Though there were some challenges throughout the semester, I'm happy I had this opportunity to work with everyone. I also really enjoyed all the events held at the Museum and hope I can continue to photograph these as a volunteer. If/when I do, I will most likely keep updating this blog.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sword Class

As I mentioned before, I attended another sword class to shoot some different weapons, techniques, and students.

At one point, there was a group of students trying the class out for the first time.

Trebuchet Contest

The Museum held a trebuchet contest this weekend. For anyone who does not know, a trebuchet is a Medieval siege device and a type of catapult. Teams built their own trebuchets and were judged on accuracy, coolness, etc. As usual, I was there to shoot photos.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Photos

While I was at the Museum for Robin Hood Day, I stopped by the sword fighting class. I'll be going again this Saturday to see some other weapons/techniques, but until then, here are a couple pictures from last time.
The first one was used for a brochure about the classes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Journal 7: The Overall Experience

At the beginning of my internship I set a number of goals for myself. These were not very specific and included gaining real-world work experience, photography experience, improving communication with visitors/staff, and gaining any skills in general. While shooting photos this past week for some Museum events I realized how I had achieved some of these goals.

One of the things I noticed was how easily I could go up to people for photos. I was not as nervous shooting people close up as when I first started, and I became better at asking for photo releases. At the beginning, the Museum Director asked me to focus specifically on people's emotions when photographing and I know I take more of these shots now than a few months ago partially because I am more comfortable. It is easier for me to speak with other staff members as well, not just visitors.

Since I have shot several events throughout the semester, I had the chance to try different methods to find something that works with the space. The challenges of the different rooms in the Museum lead me to think of different things to try when shooting and therefore helped improve my photography skills. I have seen other staff go over why certain images work and others do not, giving me a better idea of how and why certain photos are chosen for different purposes. For example, recently one of mine replaced an older photo on the Academy of the Sword brochure put out for visitors. Libbie pointed out a few reasons for why it was chosen over the old photo, which gives me an idea of more things to think about when shooting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Robin Hood Day

This past Saturday was Robin Hood Day at Higgins. All the guests I talked to said they had a great time, and the staff/volunteers did a wonderful job acting out the story of Robin Hood all day. I was there to shoot some photos, although I didn't get as many as I would have liked. Nevertheless, here are a couple to provide a glimpse into the day:

The Sheriff of Nottingham wasn't too happy with Robin's antics during Prince John's retelling of the Robin Hood story.
Quite a few of the Merry Men and citizens of Nottingham got together for the Sherwood Sing-a-long, including Robin himself (center), Maid Marian, and the captured Prince John (far left).
These young ladies joined in on the fun too:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Journal 6: Codes of Conduct

The Higgins Armory Museum follows both written and unwritten policies for conduct and ethics. The "Employee Handbook" provides a brief statement on staff “conduct and appearance,” mentioning professional dress and respectful interaction with visitors. There is also an “Employee Code of Ethics” written specifically for the Museum, and extra guidelines for individual departments, such as Development, which are not included in the handbook but available elsewhere. These are straightforward policies that focus on fulfilling the Museum's mission, respect, loyalty, honesty, and confidentiality.

Please understand that I am choosing not to post the rest of this journal entry since these are private policies not available online.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bar Mitzvah Photos

Joanne, who is in charge of museum rentals, asked me to take some photos at a Bar Mitzvah this past Saturday. The focus was on the set up - the tables, buffets, etc. to show people interested in renting the Museum how it can be transformed for events.

The evening was Lord of the Rings themed. Credit goes to Bloomer's Florist for the centerpieces and to Pepper's for catering.
It was quite fun and I wish I could have stayed longer to get some images of the guests enjoying their food instead of just empty tables. I will try adding these shots next time I'm at a rental event.

I also enjoyed talking to the party's photographer, who showed me some of his photos and shared ideas/tips.

A couple of my favorites:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Journal 5: Tasks/Assignments and Educational Implications

As I have mentioned before, most of my tasks involve research and/or organization. I also photograph some events and have opportunities to offer input on designs for invitations and brochures, though these are not everyday assignments. I feel that I am more proficient in completing the normal tasks than I was at the start of the semester and learn a lot about how a non-profit organization (specifically a museum) works. I have not gained a large amount of new skills, mainly because I have mostly been using previous skills, including some from classes I have taken.

One of my first assignments was updating the online calendar with many of the events for this year (available at Though this was not difficult to learn or accomplish, it was a necessary task since it allows the public to see what is going on at the Museum.

Several of my other tasks involved doing online research for specific businesses and related information, such as contact addresses. For example, a few weeks ago Joanne, who takes care of rentals and some events, suggested I look for New England breweries for the September Festival of Ale. I began this task but did not find a large amount of information at the time. Last week, Joanne asked me to return to it and I had much better luck, finding some breweries that were not yet on her list. As I became more familiar with craft beer and breweries, associated events and organizations, I could better complete the task.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Scimitars to Samurai: Armor Goes Global

Like I mentioned in my previous post, my friend Chris and I photographed the exhibit opening last Saturday. There wasn't as many people there as I had hoped, but it was definitely interesting and enjoyable.
Here is a quick overview of some of the day's events:
Nancy did a presentation about Queen Zenobia of Palmyra
In this area, visitors could examine things from the cultures represented in the exhibit, such as samurai armor, a Persian hand shield, and spear heads.
Finally, here are a few photos from the demonstrations of Japanese fighting/sword techniques, performed by Doshi–Kai Kendo Dojo.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Journal 4: Preliminary Evaluation of Internship Experience

Think seriously about your internship performance thus far. Reflect on the items below and use them to help clarify areas of strength and weakness so that you may improve the outcome of your internship.

1) Intern's Name: Malgorzata Malkowska
2) Internship Firm/Organization: Higgins Armory Museum
3) This internship provides me with an adequate learning experience for my background.
Somewhat. I am learning many things, but they are often unrelated to my background experience. For example, I am definitely learning about the workings of a museum and about arms and armor, but my background is in theatre, photography, graphic design, and communication in general. I have opportunities coming up to shoot more photos, but have not had a chance to do any design, public speaking, or other things I studied. I have mostly done research, and organizational tasks such as making lists of events, calendars, etc.
4) My mentor at this organization understands my goals and objectives.
Yes, I believe she does. For example, she supports my desire to practice shooting photos and has suggested opportunities for it.
5) I did adequate preparation investigating the sponsoring organization and level of placement before accepting this position.
Yes, I researched the Museum and spoke with the director to find out what the position would involve. I understood going in that I would complete tasks concerning events, the Higgins' website, and marketing as necessary instead of having a specific job description with things I would always handle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Week of February 28th

I realize I haven't said much about what I've been doing at the Museum on a daily basis. I've also been thinking I could do more in the time that I'm there each week. Of course after I thought that, I had plenty to do. Here are some of the things I worked on this week:

Scimitars to Samurai: Armor Goes Global is a new exhibit opening this Saturday. There is also a reception during the week (by invitation). Joanne, who deals with event rentals and organizing some Museum events, asked me to find songs from the countries represented in the exhibit to use as background music for this reception. Looking for traditional music from each country (that was actually available on itunes) was pretty interesting. I ended up with African drum music and some Persian songs. (Joanne had some from Japan already, and Suzanne added a bit from India, I believe).
This is one piece Joanne and I enjoyed: Babatunde Olatunji - Drums of Passion

Libbie (PR, memberships, etc.) also had a task for me. She had a stack of a few dozen letters concerning donations. These need to be looked through and entered into a spreadsheet to make the contact and donation information in them more manageable. This is a pretty large task, which I will continue next week.

While I was working on the spreadsheet, Suzanne informed us that some images had been copied without citing the sources, and the curatorial department could use help looking through books to find the originals. I was asked to help, but unfortunately could not since it was the end of my day. Hopefully the images have been or will be found soon.

Finally to finish the week, I will be photographing the exhibit opening with my friend Chris Hoey, who is volunteering his photography. There will be some cultural presentations going on during the day we'll be sure to capture, including Japanese sword technique presentations. It should be a great time!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Journal 3: Organization Hierarchy, Management structure, Communication Methods

The Higgins Armory Museum has a defined formal organizational structure including incorporators at the top, then trustees, the executive director, and department managers. For example, The education department has a manager, then someone in charge of different subsections and finally teachers, volunteers and other staff. Although this is the formal structure, it is flexible and the amount of staff fluctuates as needed. Additionally, some leadership positions are currently empty; there is no marketing director.

In the informal structure there is a focus on working together as a team (although the executive director has final say on everything) and across departments, with some people holding multiple positions in different ones. For example Libbie takes care of both communications (marketing/PR) and membership (annual support). She has also trained staff for the store since she has experience in that area. This sharing of positions is necessary because not all of them are always filled.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Journal 2: Organization/Personal Goals of Your Internship

When I first decided to find an internship, my main goal was to gain real-world work experience. Although organizing events, creating promotional materials, and serving as General Manager for my campus' radio station gives me some experience working with outside companies and a variety of people, I knew working in a more professional environment would be different than working with students. An internship seemed like a good way to meet more people, especially in a field related to my interests, and to get a sense for the work environment without too much pressure.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Viking Invasion!

On Saturday the 29th, Vikings invaded Higgins Armory!
My assignment was to photograph the day's events.
These included:
Viking games in the Great Hall
Making your own shield and rune necklace

Friday, January 28, 2011

Journal 1: The Organization and Its Mission

The Higgins Armory Museum is a non-profit organization housing John Woodman Higgins' collection of arms and armor established in 1931. Higgins, who operated a steel plant, initially kept the collection at home but it outgrew the space. The collection of around 5,000 items includes mostly European pieces from the Middle Ages and Renaissance but also pieces from other eras and places, such as Greece, Japan, and Persia. The building itself, constructed in glass and steel, used new technology of it's time, and as a result has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. (For more history:

Since 1979, a public board has operated the Museum and changed the original mission statement. Currently it states, “The Higgins Armory Museum is dedicated to exciting a passion for learning and discovery by engaging the broadest community with our collection of armor and arms in the context of the times and cultures in which they were created.” As shown by the mission statement, the museum's purpose is to educate in an interesting and enjoyable manner.

This statement is appropriate since the museum's collection and programs have the potential to appeal to a large audience, including people who already have an interest in history, weapons, or metal work but also children and people who might not know anything about the time periods addressed. While most of the exhibits are behind glass and similarly arranged to those in other museums, the programs give people a chance to interact with items from the collection, learn period martial arts, get more of a feel for medieval life, etc.

Still, as with most things, there is a lot of potential for improving how the mission statement is achieved. The biggest issue currently includes marketing events and programs. If people do not know about what the museum offers, the museum cannot engage them in learning. Another issue is changing the exhibits more often. Only about 1000 items are on display at a time, meaning people are not aware of the majority of the pieces in the museum. With more change, returning visitors have more opportunities to see something new, so the aspect of "discovery" is never lost. Fortunately the interim director, Suzanne Maas (also my internship supervisor) and other staff are dedicated to working on these issues. For instance, there are already plans for changing exhibits this year.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Beginning

I started my internship on the 20th, a few days later than expected due to snow. On the first day, I got the chance to tour the collection and hear some interesting stories about the Museum's construction. On the second, I was able to participate in a large marketing meeting. I won't get into details, but everyone came up with a lot of good ideas for getting the Museum's name out there. These two days were a perfect way for me to learn more about the Museum, see how the staff interacts and get to know everyone better.
After some computer issues were finally solved the third day, I began working on event information and a marketing matrix the Museum uses.
Although this is a regular office environment, I have to admit it can be a little unreal. Imagine waiting outside an office, seeing a man in a full suit of armor walk by, and not even thinking it's strange.
I'm definitely looking forward to working with everyone at the Higgins and to all the Museum's events - including Viking Invasion this Saturday.