Conservation Internship Program
The Center’s Conservation Internship Program trains young conservators from all over the United States and the world. Many are completing their education in graduate programs in conservation. Others are gaining experience prior to entering a conservation program. The residents function as part of the conservation staff during their tenure in Cody. They examine objects, write reports, and carry out treatments and individual projects such as collection condition surveys. The Chief Conservator works closely with the residents ensuring the quality of the training and the treatment of the collections.
For more information on our Conservation Internship program, e-mail Chief Conservator Beverly Perkins at [email protected] or call 307-578-4029.
Brianna Connaghan is from Dover, Delaware, and has her Bachelor of Science in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware. She has worked at Hagley Museum and Library; Winterthur Library, Museum, and Garden; and the University of Delaware’s Morris Library. She plans to get her master’s degree in Art Conservation with a concentration in book conservation.
During her time at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Brianna worked on high-fire ceramics, papers, and books. She assisted in the treatment of more than five hundred letters relating to a prominent Union general. The treatment included before and after photography, humidification, flattening, and tear repairs. She also worked with other interns on a project that used a pXRF (portable x-ray fluorescence) machine. Other projects included the making of wheat starch paste, iron gall ink, and bead work.
On her own, Brianna treated books from a collection within the McCracken Research Library. Treatment ranged from simple tear repairs to the reattachment of a book cover. Other books required book boxes to be made for them due to their delicate nature.
Brianna’s final days at the Center will have her assisting outdoor sculpture conservators and finishing her treatment of the books.
Kate Breitenstein is from Louisville, Kentucky. She has a bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in Geoarchaeology.
While Kate was at the Center of the West, she worked on several projects. The first was fixing a bird sculpture that had been shattered into many pieces. In several instances, this required that she make new sections of the sculpture. Since she had images of what the sculpture looked like before it was shattered, this was okay. Kate also worked on a letters re-housing project, in which she helped humidify, flatten, and clean several hundred letters. Some of the letters had tears that were repaired.
Later in the summer, Kate worked on a gun-consolidation project in concert with the Cody Firearms Museum. Several commemorative guns had flaking silver plating, so she designed a project to adhere the flakes back to the guns. This allows for them to be safely handled and moved. She also worked on a textiles project by working on cleaning a lace table runner.
The last project Kate worked on—and will continue to work on after she leaves the Center—is an archaeological obsidian scanning project. Dr. Larry Todd instigated the survey by collecting several hundred chunks of obsidian which the conservation department is scanning with an pXRF scanner. This will elementally scan the obsidian, and because each volcano that forms obsidian has a unique “finger print,” we will be able to tell where the obsidian is from. Since these rocks are often not found by their source, we can map trade networks by the obsidian left at sites.
Sarah Freshnock grew up in Prairie Village, Kansas, and currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bowdoin College in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in art history and visual arts and minoring in chemistry. During her time at Bowdoin, Sarah worked with the Bowdoin College Museum of Art to curate an exhibition about early twentieth century printmaking in New York City, was awarded the Richard P. Martel Jr. Memorial Prize for most compelling artwork for the 2016–2017 academic year, and was a Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar. Since completing her undergraduate degree, Sarah has held positions and internships with the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the National Park Service’s Historic Architecture, Conservation, and Engineering Center, and in multiple private practices.
At the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Sarah has led a large treatment of five hundred letters from a prominent union general, treated a woven basket, treated a high fire ceramic, and assisted in pXRF projects. She will be returning to Boston in the fall to continue her work with the National Park Service and with conservators in private practice.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Alyssa Rina graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts in 2013. Shortly after, she became interested in art conservation and spent the past four years garnering experience treating works on paper, photographs, objects, paintings, and books. She has worked with conservators in private practice and within institutions, some of which include the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Better Image; Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Odessa Foundation; Winterthur Museum and Garden; and, more recently, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Upon returning home, Alyssa will start a new technician position at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and apply to Art Conservation master programs this winter.
While interning in the Conservation Department at Center of the West, Alyssa worked closely with fellow interns and Chief Conservator Beverly Perkins on two main projects. One of these projects involved humidifying, flattening, and completing tear repairs on upwards of five hundred folded letters from a prominent historic figure. Additionally, Alyssa used a portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometer to analyze obsidian lithics collected from the Washakie Wilderness under Dr. Larry Todd’s ARPA permit with the Shoshone National Forest. These obsidian lithics are evidence of Native Americans moving throughout the landscape and the project is part of a larger initiative to investigate prehistoric human use of northwest Wyoming mountain landscape.
Claire Pfister is currently a high school senior in Cody, Wyoming. She has a deep love for art as well as dance and the wonderful outdoors of the Rocky Mountains. She has worked at the Center of the West for three summers, during which time she has participated in many conservation projects.
Most recently, Claire worked on a large collection of letters from a prominent historical figure including cleaning, humidifying, and flattening the letters. She also worked on a project to analyze obsidian lithics using a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer to better understand how Native Americans used the northwest Wyoming mountain landscape.
Alaggio Laurino is from the tiny town of Keuterville, Idaho, and attended Boise State University where he double-majored in Art History and Studio Art. There he served four years as the assistant curator for the university’s permanent art collection, and as the student representative on the University Art Collections Committee. During his senior year, he was part of a scholastic research team that sought to identify and reverse engineer purple pigments used in ancient encaustic portraiture. Upon graduation, Alaggio was named one of Boise State’s Top Ten Scholars of 2016 and was chosen to be commencement speaker. Before coming to the Center of the West, he spent eight months as a paper conservation intern for the Yosemite National Park Museum. With aspirations of one day attending a graduate conservation program, he is so elated to be at the Center of the West that he can often be heard performing small musical numbers with his fellow interns while they work.
During his time at the Center of the West, Alaggio has worked on Plains Indian bonnets, outdoor sculptures, various ceramic pieces, a wood cookie for the Draper Natural History Museum, a few works of art on paper. He even volunteers in the Draper’s specimen preparation lab.
A third-year graduate student in SUNY Buffalo State’s Art Conservation program specializing in objects conservation, Daniel Kaping is interested in particular in ethnographic, natural history, and archaeological collections. In 2008, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a bachelors degree in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. During the summer of his junior year, he volunteered at the site of Heraclea Lyncestis in the Former Yugoslovian Republic of Macedoni, where he was introduced to archaeological excavation. Daniel has worked as an art preparator and an outdoor sculpture technician; he has interned with paintings and objects conservators. Over summer 2016, he conserved freshly excavated finds as an intern at the American School of Classical Studies Athenian Agora Museum.
At the Center of the West, Daniel has worked on a variety of objects, including numerous firearms, a Crow bison-hide shield, outdoor bronze sculptures, an ichthyosaur, and natural history specimens. He also worked on converting a camera to take infrared photographs, useful to see through obscuring coatings.
Delora Rudolph, or Dee, was born and raised in Cody, Wyoming. She is a ceramicist with a style influenced by her love of Cody and the West. She is working on her Bachelor of Fine Arts in three-dimensional art with a focus in ceramics at Brigham Young University–Idaho. She has learned many different styles and techniques of pottery making; this has helped her to more successfully analyze ceramic ware for proper treatment, and to know how the ceramic should look when finished. Dee also sells her work in the Center of the West’s Museum Store.
Effie Clark is a recent high school Graduate. She grew up in Wyoming and fell in love with the wonders it holds. She enjoys many outdoor activities year around, and has a deep interest in many forms of art. At her first summer at the Center of the West, Effie evaluated more than two hundred Buffalo Bill’s Wild West posters. in her second year at the Center she cleaned an H.H. Cross painting of the valley of Cody. She has a great admiration for the people she works with and is continuously amazed at the amount of knowledge and detail that goes into every project and every artifact.
In summer 2017, Effie worked on accounting for the saddles in the Buffalo Bill Museum, cleaned a fire damaged cartridge board, repaired a few Dorothy Doughty bird sculptures, packed up our Ichthyosaurs sculpture, and worked on cleaning a few of the Center’s own outdoor sculptures. In the future, Effie would like to pursue an education in art at Northwest College, and hopefully pursue her dreams with finishing her schooling at the University of Queens in Canada.
Allison Rosenthal is from Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2015 with a degree in art history and chemistry, and she is currently enrolled in the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. She has previously interned at conservation labs at the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newberry Library, and the New York Academy of Medicine. While at the Center of the West, Allison is leading a study on x-ray fluorescence analysis of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s bronze sculptures, supervising and participating in the treatment of a collection of flood-damaged books, and treating a variety of other objects.
After finishing up her internship in Cody, Allison heads to the Amon Carter Museum in Texas to work in the paper conservation lab and expand her research on Proctor, and then back to Boston to continue her bookbinding education.
Claire Pfister grew up on a ranch in Wyoming and is a sophomore at Cody High School. She is a dancer at Rocky Mountain School of the Arts, and she loves art and the outdoors. She enjoyed working in conservation this summer, and the people she had the opportunity to meet. Claire cleaned an oil painting by H.H. Cross as well as its frame. She also worked on a bone of an Ichthyosaur, a Native American breast plate, and a bronze sculpture outside of the museum.
The best part of her internship at the Center of the West was seeing the huge variety of objects and procedures that are involved in conservation.
Effie Clark is currently a high school senior in Cody, Wyoming. She is taking advanced art classes at Northwest College and is a dancer and art enthusiast. Her mother is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and is a current outerwear designer. At her first summer at the Center of the West, Effie evaluated more than two hundred Buffalo Bill’s Wild West posters. She has a great admiration for the people she works with and is continuously amazed at the amount of knowledge and detail that goes into every project and every artifact.
This summer Effie cleaned a painting by H.H. Cross from 1899 that was hanging in the Irma Hotel cafe. The painting was left there unbacked for 35 years and was soaked with nicotine stains. In the future, Effie would like to pursue an education in art and also travel the world to further expand her education on the history of different societies.
Luisa Walter is an artist from Saxony, Germany. She got her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and is a participant of the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange program for young professionals. She studied Art and Graphic Design at Northwest College for two semesters and will continue with her studies in Germany, majoring in Art and English.
Her goal is to pursue a career in museum studies. “This internship gives me the great opportunity to look behind the scenes and get direction and guidance in my future plans. I really enjoy the work in the conservation lab.” Luisa worked this summer on two Indian head dresses, Ichthyosaur bones, and an Alaskan bear sculpture.
Michael Tusay is from North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and is a Lycoming College graduate. At Lycoming, he double majored in History and Archaeology and minored in Chemistry and Medieval Studies. Prior to coming to the Center of the West, his previous conservation experiences include Carnegie Mellon University Library, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History. He is currently a pre-program conservation student with a strong interest in conservation science.
This summer, Michael has been working on a Proctor XRF-analysis project, Plains Indian objects, sculptures, Ichthyosaur bone fragments, and a comparative hair analysis to identify an unknown museum artifact.
Nicole Schmidt graduated from Buffalo State College with a BA in Art History and minors in Chemistry and German. She is a pre-program conservation student and has returned to Buffalo Bill Center of the West for a second summer. Her prior internships include: National Parks Service at Harpers Ferry Center, Russell-Marti Conservation Services, and Laura Schell Paper Conservation.
This summer Nicole is working on a Proctor XRF-Analysis project, Ichthyosaur fossils, a 1600s matchlock firearm, Native American mittens, a wax sculpture, and following up treatment on a taxidermy bison. Following this summer, she plans to return to Buffalo and later Atlanta, Georgia, for further internships.
Tyler Loveless grew up in a small town outside of Denver, Colorado. He is currently working toward his Associate of Applied Science degree in gunsmithing at Trinidad State Junior College. Although Tyler is mainly working in the Conservation Department as a Center of the West intern, he has had many opportunities to work with firearms in the Cody Firearms Museum, including a German matchlock musket from the early 1600s. Tyler got to meet and work with Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons, and he has been able to document the Class III firearms within the Cody Firearms Museum.
Along with the German matchlock, Tyler has worked on many other projects in the Conservation lab, such as a pair of privately owned Native American mittens, a privately owned lamp, and three pieces of bone from an Ichthyosaur including a fin. During his time working as a conservation intern, he has learned many new skills, and has built connections with many valuable resources.
Vanessa Ocaña-Mayor was born in Peru and lived there until age 11, when she and her family moved to Florida. She received a BFA in Sculpture and BA in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2014. Vanessa’s previous conservation experiences include working at the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco–CTTC), and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (summer 2015). She is a pre-program conservation student hoping to specialize in Textile Conservation, and is part of the 2016 Center of the West summer conservation internship squad.
This summer Vanessa has been working on a Proctor XRF-analysis project, an Ichtyosaur leg bone, a Plains Indian storage bag, and a book from the McCracken Library.
Visit this page to meet interns from the past few years.