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VCU Archaeology

An experience that will be remembered for a lifetime

By Diana Salazar

Ever since I entered as a VCU student in the Anthropology program, I’ve always been interested in taking part in Dr. Means’ Virtual Curation Laboratory Internship. Because there was a delay in my credit hours, applying for the internship meant my senior year, but I was very excited to get started working in September. And after a few weeks, I realized the struggles but exciting experiences that I would have to partake in. It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy either and I’m very excited to work here again next semester.

Most of my days in the internship meant cleaning up the 3D replicas and painting them. I loved doing these the most because they were quite relaxing and simple to do. But it always got very messy and when other interns were in the lab, we’d all just laugh about it. After a 3D print was done, we were responsible for cleaning it up because they often had pieces of plastic in between spaces and a support at the bottom. We also had to remove any rough patches and smooth them out using a dermal. This meant that tiny pieces of plastic got everywhere. You wouldn’t realize how many times I’ve had to stand up and brush myself off clean. And painting meant that you’ll mostly get it on yourself. But don’t worry, it’ll come right off if you cleaned it with a little bit of water right away. The best part was trying to replicate the color and design of the object. It didn’t have to be perfect, but I always tried my best that I would google search sample images just to get it right.

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Cleaning up a 3D printed model of a B-25 Mitchell bomber

Working in the Virtual Curation lab is intense because of the kind of artifacts that you are able to come into contact with. The best part of this internship was the fact that I never thought I would get close to the belongings of Edgar Ellen Poe, Nazi WWII artifacts, or even the World’s Oldest Peanut and World’s Oldest Ham! I had the honor of cleaning up and painting this beauty, but it was definitely quite difficult trying to get the right color cause of its age.

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Painting and attempting at eating the World’s Oldest Ham

But most of my time here was working on the artifacts from the National Constitution Center because we worked on them for about a month and half as soon as the internship started. This was a big project that we were working on because we were going to present it to them and so there were many of the same 3D prints that we had to clean and paint and get ready. It even dragged out until the end of this semester because we planned on boarding them against the wall in a Museum.

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Holding up two 3D printed artifacts from the National Constitution Center

At the end of the semester, I’ve learned and gained so much knowledge and experience. They have helped me gain an interest in working in museums or 3D printing locations because of its importance and dedication. I’m really looking forward to working for the Virtual Curation Lab again and being a part of this team.

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