Corinne Burrell ’18 spent a semester using the pieces of the past at the Smithsonian museums to create events for the present.
Working with rare and priceless artifacts is key for museum studies majors, but Burrell got to create opportunities for the future of museums by interning for the world’s largest museum, education and research complex.
As an intern in the Office of Special Events and Protocol for the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., Burrell worked with museum events. She described her position as a utility player often assisting with site visits and walk-throughs for upcoming events and artists. One memorable day, she left her office at the Smithsonian Castle and went next door to Arts and Industries to assist with a site visit for a musician. The artist turned out to be the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
“He came in, looked at the space, and he took out his cello and gave us an impromptu private concert,” Burrell says. “To be so close to this virtuoso in a stunning space with less than 10 people was absolutely breathtaking.”
Burrell’s time in Washington, D.C., was part of the Lutheran College Washington Semester in which Concordia students have participating in for more than 15 years. The semester combines both classes and hands-on internship opportunities for students in the nation’s capital.
"Although Washington, D.C., semester programs are often identified with the discipline of political science, LCWS – a consortium of 13 Lutheran colleges from across the United States – offers students of all majors the opportunity to gain professional experience through a wealth of internship opportunities in a wide range of fields," says Dr. Rebecca Moore, Concordia’s LCWS coordinator.
In addition to international musicians, Burrell had a chance to work one of the large-scale donor-relations events. Potential donors were escorted from one museum to the next and got a sneak peek at some pieces of entertainment culture.
“One of the stops we made was in the tunnels of the National Museum of American History,” Burrell says. “We got a behind-the-scenes tour of objects not available to the public. We saw the first ever Kermit puppet, along with other Muppets, too, the original 'Wizard of Oz' Scarecrow costume, archetype sketches of 'Steamboat Willie' and early Disney princesses, Ricky Ricardo's bongos from 'I Love Lucy,' and lots of other Americana.”
For Burrell, museums and ancient artifacts never get old. She’s traveled to Italy on an archeological dig and closer to home she has helped mine the college archives for the exhibit “History and Heritage: Celebrating 125 Years of Concordia College.”
She believes the lessons taught by college archivist Lisa Sjoberg, history professor Dr. Joy Lintelman and art professor Dr. Susan Lee were key to having the opportunity in D.C.
“Smithsonian internships are pretty competitive. I truly believe the skills I have learned at Concordia helped me land the position,” Burrell says.