Colonial Williamsburg Internship Abstract

My name is Emily Knoche, and I am a rising junior at the College with a double major in Global Studies and French.  I am very excited to be a part of the Woody Museum Studies Internship Program this summer as I am considering a career in this field.  My internship is through the Collections, Conservation, and Museums division of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  I have a strong background in historic interpretation and guiding tours, but this will be my first experience with some of the more behind-the-scenes aspects of museum operations, so I am very much looking forward to all the learning opportunities this internship will allow me.

I am working through Bassett Hall, one of the museum sites within the CCM division.  Originally dating back to the 18th century, Bassett Hall saw many different occupants, but most significantly, it served as the Williamsburg home for John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, during the 20th century.  JDR Jr. was responsible for financing the Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, a process begun in the 1930s which involved a historic reconstruction of the city to its original colonial appearance, making Colonial Williamsburg today one of the largest and most authentic living history museums.


Bassett Hall is unique among other homes in Colonial Williamsburg in that its historic significance spans several centuries.  The house itself was built in the mid-1700s was added on to several times.  Today, Bassett Hall is interpreted as it existed in the 1940s.  The furniture and artwork are the same as when the Rockefellers lived there, which creates an interesting blend between traditional and modern.  This is especially apparent in the different tastes of Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller.  While John preferred more traditional pieces, Abby had a passion for modern and folk art.  An avid art collector, she was instrumental in establishing the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and her extensive collection of American folk art serves as one of the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums.


My first project here is to design an interpretation manual to be used to train future employees at Bassett Hall.  Reading and compiling hundreds of documents about the history of the Rockefeller and Aldrich families, the Restoration, and Bassett Hall itself has been a great way for me to learn about the site in depth and appreciate its significance.  My main project for the summer will be to create and implement a family-oriented education program to highlight aspects of the history and culture surrounding Bassett Hall beyond the general guided tour. Additionally, because there are many interns within the CCM division, there will be weekly seminars and field trips to different sites and museums as well as collections sites and conservation labs.

It is exciting to be part of an internship program that allows such a comprehensive experience in museum studies, and I am really looking forward to gaining new perspectives.  I will be posting regularly, so follow allow if you would like to learn more!