Chamizal National Memorial

Museum Curator Assistant (DHA-RA)  -  El Paso, TX

Position Type: LHIP Direct Hire Authority Resource Assistance (DHA-RA)
Primary Field: Resource Management

The Museum Curator Assistant will assist in the second phase of updating the park’s 2010 Scope of Collections (SOCS), conducting research on particular archival items, and further reducing the number of undocumented non-accessioned items in the collection. In addition, particular items will require research prior to their accessioning and cataloging. The intern will be asked to conduct accessioning and cataloging as needed.

The museum collection for the Chamizal National Memorial has the potential to include cultural objects, objects of natural history, and archival material. As of Fiscal Year 2020, Chamizal National Memorial’s (CHAM) museum collection consists of (approximately) 15,561 museum items in its collection. The museum collection does not include archaeological or natural history objects/specimens. All objects in the museum collection are cataloged as historical items and are associated with the region’s unique bi-national heritage, environmental, economic, social, and political interactions. The collection maintains an extensive holding of items specifically related to the documentation and survey of the United States and Mexico international border, the Chamizal treaty, and park-sponsored programs that have occurred since the CHAM’s inception in 1966.

The Scope of Collection Statement (SOCS) is the basic curatorial planning document that guides the acquisition and preservation of museum objects, specimens, CHAM associated records, archival, and manuscript collections. It defines the limits of the collection based on the park’s purpose and interpretive objectives as stated in the legislation, mandates, and park-specific planning documents. A large part of the intern’s responsibility will be to assist the Cultural Resources Program Manager--who has collateral museum duties--in completing the second phase in updating the park’s 2010 Scope of Collections document to ensure that the document reflects current information for proper acquisition and preservation of museum objects and archives while clearly defining the sideboards of the collection based on the park’s purpose and interpretive plans.

The documentation of non-accessioned material will require updating an existing WORD document of non-accessioned files begun in February of 2018. The non-accessioned items include various objects, pieces of artwork, administration files, and other types of files. Another important goal for this project will be to assist in the accessioning and cataloging various objects in the park’s electronic database, which are presently dedicated to a museum laptop computer. This will help in significantly reducing our backlog of non-accessioned and non-cataloged objects and archival material. By park staff prioritizing the items to be accessioned and cataloged, the intern will be contributing to the opening of a new permanent park exhibit that will feature some of these items.  As part of the accessioning and cataloging processes, the intern may be asked to conduct online and/or library research on specific objects and archival materials in order to properly describe them in the electronic database. If time allows, the intern will be able to participate with park staff in conducting a required annual inventory of park museum collections, including all archival materials.

All the aforementioned work products must be completed in a manner that meets the Secretary of Interior’s Standards as identified in the NPS museum handbooks and NPS museum collections guidance documents. Thus, attention to detail will be critical for proper data entry and descriptions of items entered in the park’s electronic database. The intern will be asked to read relevant sections of the NPS Museum Collection Handbooks. These handbooks and various object indices will be explained and made available to the intern. The supervisor will assist the intern in using the handbooks, manuals, and indices throughout the accessioning and cataloging process to ensure that the work products meet DOI and NPS standards while effectively updating the park’s existing database.

Qualifications

The intern’s qualifications for this position will require the following knowledge, skill sets, and abilities to successfully perform and complete the various learning goals listed below:

  • strong technical writing skills
  • skilled using Microsoft WORD, Excel, and PowerPoint software programs;
  • ability to learn then-new museum electronic database program;
  • basic knowledge and skill in conducting online research using Google;
  • basic knowledge and ability to perform library research;
  • ability to drive an automobile;
  • ability to attend to detail;
  • good analytical abilities;
  • good technical skills; and
  • good social skills and ability to work with others in a team setting.

The intern must be enrolled as a current student during the period of this internship.

Work Environment

The intern will be working indoors with collections in the park's curation lab, two storage facilities (one on-site and the other off-site), and exhibit areas in the Administration Building and Visitor Center. The buildings are temperature-controlled and provide good air conditioning during the summer months. The park sometimes does host more than one summer intern. The Cultural Resources Program at Chamizal National Memorial has hosted up to two interns in a summer.

Driver's License

The intern will need to drive their personal vehicle to and from work each day and will therefore need a valid driver’s license. In addition, the intern may need to drive to the nearby El Paso Public Library and the library of the University of Texas at El Paso library to conduct research pertaining to the park’s museum collections.