Museum Anthropology

    IMG_6555   Working in collections at the NMAI   Teaching colleagues how to better store textiles at the IMS

For a complete list of museum experiences see my resume: Mendelsohn Resume March 2021

Collections Management

My first collections management experience was as an intern at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. There I learned a wide range of skills including art handling, use of conservation materials as well as about repatriation processes and culturally sensitive collections practices. More recently I applied this experience in my role as graduate assistant for the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies at the University at Albany. There I developed and implemented a collections management strategy to better preserve our textile collection.


Textiles were folded before rehousing  Textiles were housed folded in cabinets


  IMS textiles Ethno Lab 3Skirts and other long fabrics were rolledIMS textiles Ethno Lab 2

Museum Education and Public Outreach

My first experience with museum education was as an intern at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. During the internship, I brought school groups and summer camps on tours of the museum based on certain themes. Each tour also ended with an arts and crafts project. I have since applied this experience to my work with the Izapa Household Archaeology Project, using slides and artifacts to teach community members and local middle school students about the process of archaeology and the role of Izapa in Mesoamerican history.

Presenting to Izapa community members in 2014

Curatorial Experience

My first experience curating an exhibit occurred during a senior seminar at Dickinson College. There I co-curated the exhibit American en plein air: Impressions by Henry Ryan MacGinnis for Dickinson’s Trout Gallery and contributed to the publication of the exhibition catalog. The project also led to an additional publication in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine:

Lee, Elizabeth and Rebecca Mendelsohn. Henry Ryan MacGinnis, Painter of American Landscapes. Fine Art Connoisseur 6 (3): 32-37.

At the America: en plein air exhibit opening

 Museums of the World

Visiting different museums around the world (so far in Europe, North America, and Central America) has helped me to understand the different types of narratives that are constructed by museographers in art, anthropology, natural history, and archaeological site museums using different methods to engage their diverse audiences.

Some of the visits that have most influenced and/or challenged my ideas about issues of representation, authenticity, museum space, and using different media to tell a story, include:

  • Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City
  • Museo Templo Mayor, Mexico City
  • Museo de los Altos, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
  • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC
  • Field Museum, Chicago
  • Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii
  • Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth, England

Helpful Resources:

American Alliance of Museums-

Council for Museum Anthropology-

International Council of Museums (ICOM)-

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