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Central Washington University

CWU Grad Headed to Washington, DC for Smithsonian Museum Internship

Hanna Person

Hanna Person, who graduated this month from Central Washington University with a degree in anthropology, is headed to Washington, DC for a paid summer internship at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History.

Person, who’s always been a natural history buff, chose CWU because of its anthropology program and museum studies minor and because she wanted to attend a small school. In addition to her classes, Person participated in a five-day field course at Mount Rainier and assisted in multiple exhibit installations at CWU’s Museum of Culture and Environment. She says the experiences helped her land the Smithsonian internship, as did the great recommendation from Mark Auslander, professor of anthropology and museum studies and director of the CWU museum.

“She's extremely hard working, very creative, and takes a good deal of initiative,” Auslander said about Person. When he learned the Smithsonian might be looking for an intern to help organize its Rastafarian collection, he didn’t hesitate to recommend Person to Jake Homiak, director of the collections and archives program at the Museum of Natural History.

“Internships like this at the Smithsonian are extremely competitive, but my museum studies colleagues and I had no doubt that Hanna would be a very strong candidate,” Auslander said. “We are just thrilled for Hanna.”

Person will help register and accession the museum's collection of global Rastafarian material culture, working under Homiak, a noted scholar of Afro-Caribbean religions.

'A quiet adventure'

“I realize that, for most people, being in the back room and handling the objects is pretty boring. But for me it’s interesting,” Person said. “It’s a little mystery. You’re learning about the object, you’re handling it; it’s like a treasure hunt. A quiet adventure.”

Person was an intern at CWU’s Museum of Culture and Environment under collections manager Lynn Bethke, who said Person’s work and the work of other interns is vital to the operation of the museum.

“Hanna is a great student—always ready to take on new challenges, but also detail oriented; great attributes for anyone interested in museums,” Bethke said.

Person helped in multiple CWU exhibit installations, “writing text, mounting panels, installing objects, and doing all of the many little things that go into making an exhibit come to life,” Bethke said. “She also did a great deal of work processing a collection of baskets from the Philippines which was donated to us in 2012.”

The Museum of Natural History is right on the National Mall in the heart of the capital. Person hopes to visit as many museums as she can during her six-week stay in Washington, DC, and expects the experience to give her a better feel for museum collection and help her decide what sort of graduate studies she wants to take part in.

Person is a 2012 graduate of La Center High School and, thanks to Running Start, finished her four-year degree at CWU in just two years.

PHOTO: Recent CWU graduate Hanna Person is pictured in the past exhibit "Where there's Smoke ... Living with Fire," at the Museum of Culture and Environment. The exhibit borrowed gear worn by wilderness firefighters from the state Department of Natural Resources. Person says her experience working at the CWU museum helped her land a paid internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC this summer.

Media contact: Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841, barnott@cwu.edu

June 25, 2014