PhD student sheds light on the past at Nickle Galleries | New
One cannot expect to find a treasure trove of ancient Greek and Roman coins in the Canadian prairies. For connoisseurs, the collection of pieces held by the Nickel Galleries in the Taylor Family Digital Library helps make the University of Calgary a destination for academics.
Classical Studies PhD candidate Brittany DeMone recently completed a Talent transformation internship (TTI) as an intern in numismatic collection with the Nickle Galleries. Numismatics is the study of money and for DeMone the opportunity to supplement his research by training with coins was truly transformative.
“I have an academic interest in visual culture and have worked with Marina Fischer, a collections specialist at Nickle,” says DeMone. “I learned from Marina that there was an opportunity to pursue an ITT, so I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about museum practices.”
Working with a world-class collection
the Nickle Galleries Numismatic Collection is the largest and most important collection of academic coins in Canada, and a rich teaching and research resource for UCalgary students and faculty. The collection consists of 23,000 artefacts ranging from the early coinage in the 7th century BCE to the modern period, including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, medieval, Jewish, Islamic, ethnographic and modern coins.
DeMone assisted in the management of the collection, reorganization and cataloging of parts as well as the identification of parts that had not been cataloged. She also provided documentary services, taking photos of the collection for future digital exhibitions, the Nickle website and for use by other researchers.
“Bronze pieces in particular can be rusted or worn away from handling,” DeMone explains. “It can be a challenge to see the little details or read the inscriptions. High resolution photos can enhance details hidden with the naked eye.
DeMone, an experienced photographer with her own business, worked with a special light box to control the lighting conditions in the photograph. While the internship gave DeMone the opportunity to apply existing skills and develop new ones, his work also serves to make the collection more accessible to other researchers, in person and online.
Courtesy of Brittany DeMone
Unique opportunities for UCalgary graduate students
“The experiential learning aspect of the internship was invaluable,” says DeMone. “When studying material culture, it can be rare to have the opportunity to manipulate ancient artefacts. This gives me important experience in the museum field.
The internship is also bearing fruit in the academic activities of DeMone. “Before, I didn’t feel brave enough to tackle numismatic evidence in my research. Having hands-on experience of learning coin handling and identification, I now feel much more confident to incorporate numismatics into my research and teaching as well.
DeMone didn’t have to look much further than his own backyard to find the perfect spot for his doctoral classics. After traveling to the University of Nottingham in the UK for her masters degree, DeMone returned to her hometown of Calgary to work with Dr Lisa Hughes, PhD, in the Department of Classical and Religious Studies.
“I worked with Lisa as an undergraduate student,” says DeMone. “She introduced me to Greek and Roman art and architecture, and I fell in love with it. She sparked my interest in visual culture and I knew I really wanted to work with her after my masters degree.
Experiential learning helps students prepare for the next steps
DeMone plans to defend his thesis later this year and hopes to continue work related to both his degree and his internship.
“I’ve always been fascinated by teaching and sharing material that I love and have a passion for, whether through academics or the museum field,” says DeMone. “I think my background in curation, museum management, photography and even building exhibitions will translate into other opportunities.”
The transformative talents internship program is offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. It gives students the possibility of enriching the internships by reflection, additional financial support and course credits. Students who complete a TTI will also have it on their transcripts, which can be useful when applying for future degrees or looking for career opportunities.
“The TTI program has helped hundreds of graduate students create experiential learning opportunities that are recognized both inside and outside the academy,” said Dr Robin Yates , dean and vice-president, graduate studies. “For many students, the internship is a key part of the graduate study experience at Calgary.”
“Brittany’s contributions and her passion for the discipline she has chosen have been of immense benefit to Nickle Galleries,” says Christine Sowiak, Chief Curator. “The TTI program is ideal for students pursuing careers in museums, galleries and heritage, because hands-on experience is as rare as it is essential. We are delighted that the TTI program has opened up such an opportunity to our students. “
Learn more on the transformative talents internship program.