Illustration with black line drawings on a white background with text " A Semester Abroad at LCMM"

The Work of a Museum Fellow: Inclusion and Accessibility through History, 3D Models, and Collections

In 2022, Julia Park joined the team here at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum as Fellow working in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to explore and make recommendations on how our exhibits and visitor experience could be more accessible and inclusive for all visitors. Over the course of her fellowship, Julia engaged with a variety of different projects and topics related to the Museum’s collections and exhibitions, including 3D modeling, writing new exhibit labels, researching the Museum’s collections and archives, and creating interactive visitor programs. At the end of her fellowship, Julia documented her experiences and findings at the Museum in this video and we’re delighted to share it here.

Video text transcript:

A semester abroad at LCMM
Lois McClure of Burlington, Vermont: The LOIS is a full-scale replica of a 1862-class sailing canal schooner, a boat built to sail across Lake Champlain and still fit through canals. The plans for the Lois were first made in 2001 based on 2 shipwrecks in Lake Champlain. After 20 years of service, the Lois will retire in 2023. How do we honor a history after its material belongings depart us?

Chapter 1: The life of every thing
Perhaps the romantic prospect of museums and their role as conservators is that it is not just the objects that are being preserved but also their stories. Stories exist in that which can be read, heard, touched, seen, and also not seen.

Chapter 2: Space
Most of the space on the Lois was used for cargo. This is where the captain and their family would live at sea. This floor plan (from the original 2001 plans) expresses the family space as as a flat 2D drawing. By combining drawing from multiple perspectives we can understand a 2D space as a 3D space. Through a digital model, we can have a 3D experience without requiring its physical elements. What else would’ve existed within these walls? What stories carry on in this space?

Chapter 3: The life of stories
One way museums tell stories is through museum labels. Museum labels are created through conversation between objects; historical documents; museum researchers, archivists, editors; and the public. These conversations are never one-sided. Museum labels are living texts – they are constantly listening and responding, evolving and changing.

Chapter 4: Aladdin
The S.S. Aladdin was a ship built by boys of Camp Dingley Dell in the summer of 1928. At the bow of the ship was a wooden figurehead of the fictional character Aladdin. This particular object in the collection tells 2 stories. The wooden object was a magical fable turned figurehead on a tie-dye clad ship for summer campers. However, the physical details on this Aladdin mimic harmful stereotypes. These specific stereotypes of the “East” were created from a belief in Western supremacy in order to justify colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries (Orientalism by Edward Said). Together, both narratives help create a fuller understanding of the S.S. Aladdin and the stories it will continue to tell in the future. As stewards of historical objects, museums must lean into nuance in stories told and untold, uplifted and diminished, created and being created.

Post Card (addressed to Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Road, Vergennes, Vermont 05491)
Museums are living and breathing with stories.
Never frozen in time, objects sing, dance, weep, and rejoice.
Hear them for who they are and tell them your own stories.

Love, Julia
Courtesy of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Created by Julia Park

This fellowship position was made possible thanks to support from a family foundation