The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum was founded in the year 2000 by a Vietnam veteran and African American military historian, Captain Paul J. Matthews. The Museum is a proud member of the Houston Museum District, and is the only Museum dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier, in the United States of America. The museum is looking for help cataloguing archival materials, designing children-friendly exhibits, interviewing local veterans for an oral history project, and acquiring new materials for the collection.
1. Children Friendly Exhibit(s)
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum would like to improve upon its child friendliness by providing modern interactive exhibits for children ages 3 to 17. This project would give the student the opportunity to develop an exhibit or multiple exhibits that are educational and fun. He/she will be able to conceptualize the exhibit(s), conduct the necessary research on the information to develop the exhibit(s), as well as the information that will be displayed with the exhibit(s). The student will write the narrative for the exhibit(s). The student can also use technology to enhance existing exhibits or to create new exhibits. He/she should provide the museum with their research findings, recommendations, design, and implementation plan. The culmination of the project should end with at least one children’s exhibit. This is intended to be a fun learning experience for the student who will assume this project, as well as for the many children who will enjoy the exhibit for posterity. This could be a fun project for someone interested in architecture, design, museum studies, public history, history, computer technology, etc.
2. Oral History Project
The student will conduct research to identify individuals locally and nationally who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and in the present wars and conflicts, to collect their oral history for an oral history collection that will be housed at the museum. The student will conduct audio or video interviews depending on the circumstances of the interviewee and transcribe them. He/she will work closely with the museum in developing a set of questions to ask. The museum previously assisted with an oral history collection for a university, so that process can be used as a guide. Additionally, the Library of Congress is currently working on the Veterans’ Oral History Project and they can be used as a possible resource. Acquiring pictures, letters and other archival materials in addition to the interviews is ideal. This project is ideal for students with interests in history, public history, American culture studies, ethnic studies, education, communications, journalism, and public relations.
3. Accessions Project
This is a two-fold project. The student involved in this project will conduct research that will help the museum identify individuals and organizations in order to actively recruit acquisitions for the museum’s collection. He/she will find a creative way to reach out to these individuals and/or organizations. The student will assist in identifying items of interest or significance that the museum would like to acquire and for the donors to donate. He/she will catalog and arrange the collection of the items donated. Additionally, he/she will work with the current accessions software to update the catalog with the new acquisitions as well as acquisitions that are not currently listed on the accessions catalog. The student will work to ensure that all acquisitions are documented and accounted-for in the accessions catalog database. He/she will go through the museums holdings to ensure that every item has been accessioned properly. The student will gain hands-on experience in working with acquisitions, museum accessioning software, understanding and implementing the accessioning process, and learn more about various historical artifacts. This project is ideal for those interested in public history, history, museum studies, archival science, and library science.
4. Library Project
The student will identify areas for improvement in regards to library and archival practices. He/she will assist the museum in developing the library processing system so that the books and archival materials can be signed out or checked out for use only within the library. The student will work to update the current library catalog and create an archival catalog. The student will assist in turning the library into a functional space to conduct research by making suggestions in implementing the library design for research and through creating a finding aid for the archival collection. He/she will also work towards digitizing the catalog and finding aid. This is the perfect opportunity for students with interests in public history, library science, archival science, or museum studies.
5. Museum Marketing and Outreach
The student will conduct analyses of the museum’s patron demographic to help with finding better ways to market to them and to a broader audience. The student will assist in finding creative ways to develop programming which appeals to the museum’s audience and increase its visibility locally and nationally. The student will assist in developing a new marketing strategy and campaign for the museum. This is the ideal project for students with an interest in marketing, e-marketing, community development, museum studies, or social media.