WC Senior Invited to Present at Public History Symposium

March 9, 2018

April Neff to Share inSight into Her Exhibit-Building Internship

April Neff’s hands-on learning opportunity to help create a museum exhibit at Wilmington College not only shifted her career interest toward public history, but also resulted in an invitation to talk about it at a scholarly conference.

PICTURED: Senior April Neff will discuss the amount of work, collaboration and how the positive experience of creating a major exhibit has affected her career aspirations.

Neff, a senior from Maineville double-majoring in history and education studies, will participate in the Wright State University Public History Symposium March 16. She will share insight into the topic, “Starting from Zero: Collaborative Exhibit Building in a Small Museum.”

As an intern with WC’s Peace Resource Center (PRC), she is working with other students on an exhibit highlighting conscientious objectors from World War I, which will open in November — commemorating the First World War armistice 100 years ago in 1918. The Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center (QHC) at the College is hosting the exhibit as the bookend to its popular gallery exhibit and related programming held four years ago in observance of the start of The Great War.

“I never realized the opportunities that might fall into my lap when I started this internship,” Neff said, noting how excited she is as an undergraduate to be invited to present at what is essentially a symposium for graduate students.

“I’m looking forward to hearing their presentations and for them to hear mine,” she said. “I want to put an emphasis on how much work goes into creating an exhibit. I also want to share what I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown through this opportunity.”

Indeed, she and her WC colleagues have been conducting exhaustive research that includes going through artifacts and old books, while also learning specific museum software. “The letters I’m reading are 100 years old!” she added in noting her fascination with the original subject materials.

Neff’s symposium presentation also will emphasize the importance of collaboration in the production of exhibits — “when everyone’s voices are heard.”

She and the other students are working with Dr. Tanya Maus, director of the PRC/QHC, who is especially pleased with Neff’s opportunity for scholarly presentation.

“April has been an outstanding example of hands-on learning, as she quickly learned about archives, museums and the preservation needs of the Peace Resource and Quaker Heritage centers,” she said.

Neff’s internship experience has served to give her a greater focus with regard to both her interest in history and career aspirations. She transferred to WC after earning an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in history from Sinclair State University.

“When I came to Wilmington College, I thought the practical thing for me was to become a history teacher,” Neff said, noting she comes from a family that “loves” history, “but I’ve discovered a real interest in historical research and creating exhibits.

“This has been a great hands-on learning experience.”