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Penobscot Marine Museum switches to virtual intern program

By Fran Gonzalez | Jun 12, 2020
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport has four interns working remotely this summer.

Searsport — The intern program at Penobscot Marine Museum has transformed this year into a remote effort because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing protocols.

Jeana Ganskop, education director at the PMM, said this is her second year working at the museum and also the second summer running the intern program.

Last summer the museum brought in two college graduates, she said, and it was hoping to do the same this year when the global pandemic suddenly halted everything. She had interns lined up, but “the logistics really weren’t going to work.”

“My goal is to appeal to students considering a museum field,” she said. In this program students gain valuable experience while “learning a little about Penobscot Bay.”

This year the museum has four interns, two are in graduate programs in museum studies and one has finished his undergraduate studies in history. In addition, this summer will feature a high school intern who will also be working remotely.

With the technology available, Ganskop was able to transition the positions to remote internships. She and the four interns are often emailing back and forth and have weekly video-conferencie meetings using apps such as Zoom or GoogleMeet. “When we're discussing a new project,” she said, “I tend to meet with them one-on-one by video. It makes it feel just a little more normal.”

She said one intern is tapping into the museum’s database to catalog ships built in Searsport or that were captained by local seamen.

North Carolina native Lauren Taylor is working on her master's in museum studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program in New York. Her ideal job, she said, would be as a collections manager or curator at a museum, but she enjoys many different areas of museum work.

In her current role at the museum, she works with the collections' databases, contributes to web-accessible information about PMM's collections, writes social media content, and has completed a final collections-based visual project.

“Ultimately, my work will help improve public access to information about the wonderful collections PMM has,” Taylor said.

As a digital collections intern, Taylor uses software that allows her to remotely access a computer desktop at PMM. “Most internships related to collections are in-person and very hands-on, so I'm lucky to be interning with PMM this summer,” Taylor said.

“Through this internship, I still have the opportunity to work with collections while at a distance from the campus. I think the flexibility, adaptability and digital literacy I’m gaining from this internship will prove to be a very beneficial moving forward in my career,” she said.

“PMM, and the other interns being hosted this summer, are an excellent group to work with! I'm learning so much from this experience already, and I'm thankful to have this opportunity to do the work I really enjoy,” Taylor said.

Intern Katie Lade a student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she is pursuing her master's in museums, heritage, and public history.

In 2019, she received her bachelor's degree in history and political science from Webster University. Lade is passionate about historical research, working with the public and engaging with complex historical narratives and objects as a way to encourage lifelong learning, she said.

The third college graduate intern is Matt Zink. A recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, he received a bachelor's degree in history in May. Throughout the course of his undergraduate degree, Zink developed a passion for research and education in U.S. history, and seeks to continue that passion through higher education.

Rounding out the intern lineup is Audrey Groski from Hampden, where she will be graduating from Bangor Christian School in June. She plans to study history at Liberty University this fall. After checking out the museum’s online presence, one of Groski's first projects will be researching and writing trivia questions for weekly #triviatuesday social media posts.

The next remote Maritime Trivia Night is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m. Ganskop said everyone had a good time at the first trivia night event and that it "was a little cozy," with 10 people attending through Zoom. “You don’t have to know a whole lot about Penobscot Bay, just maritime history,” she said.

The museum is also hosting an online nautical book club with the interns' help, where visitors are given links to free online books to read. They then post their thoughts, comments and questions and share related videos. For more information on these two programs, visit

Ganskop said the museum staff enjoys working with interns and their ease and familiarity with social media are helpful in reaching younger audiences. “Their energy and fresh perspective are invigorating. Although this year is different, I'm already excited about what our interns have accomplished and how they are stepping up to the challenge.”

PMM External Relations Director Sabrina Kettell said the museum is looking forward to welcoming visitors for the 2020 season beginning June 30.

“While our campus won’t be open in the same way it has traditionally been, we are excited to offer new guided walking tours. These tours will commemorate Maine’s bicentennial by focusing on Penobscot Bay’s rousing maritime history.”

For more information, visit

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