Carpet Beetles in the Attic?

Posted by: Mellany Artmstrong

Cleaning out carpet beetles, categorizing thousands of postcards and giving tours are all in an intern’s day’s work for Virginia Pollock ’18.

Pollock, a Curatorial Studies major with a minor in Textile Design, gained quite a lot of experience during her summer internship at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, an authentically restored Victorian house museum and garden in West Germantown.

“Being in the classroom can never prepare you for some of these things, like, ‘Oh, there’s carpet beetles in the attic, let’s create a plan for conservation of a collection,’” she said. “That kind of hands-on experience – doing graphic design or working with the collections – is so valuable.”

The internship was a second-go-round at the mansion for Pollock, who served as a volunteer there in 2016. The internship ‘popped up’ when another student left.

“She did magnificent work, just as a volunteer,” said Diane Richardson, executive director of the mansion and Pollock’s supervisor, noting that Pollock catalogued, photographed and archived period clothing that was found in the mansion’s attic. “There were things up there that I didn’t even know about, and I’ve been here 10 years.”

Pollock used her graphic design skills in creating an invitation for the mansion’s Magnificent Maxwell Affair, a fundraiser to forward the mansion’s mission of showcasing Victorian-era Philadelphia through architecture, grounds and gardens, and collections. The design featured a lace pattern found on clothing in the mansion’s collection.

One of the more interesting jobs she had was to sort through, organize and scan a postcard collection from the late 1800s and early 1900s that was donated to the mansion. Many of them contain messages that leave readers wanting to know more.

“Elsa might die of regret at having lost her husband on their wedding day through her womanish curiosity that must know his secrets,” Pollock read on one. “What does that mean? And then they talk about something else in the next sentence. So many questions!”

The postcards were good fodder for social media postings for the mansion, Richardson said.

“It was National Bikini Day and Virginia tweeted a picture of a postcard we had of a vintage bathing suit,” she said.

Pollock, who lives in the Philadelphia are, chose Moore for several reasons.

“The school offered a very unique Curatorial Studies program that is hard to find at an undergrad level at other schools,” she said. “I also like Moore because of the small size of the school. That helps create a strong community and allows for exploration with different classes, research topics and mediums.”

Pollock would like to become a curator or work in a museum one day.

“But, you really can’t plan, something might pop up,” she said.