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Internship, next step to job opportunities for Rainey Knox

Sophomore history major, Rainey Knox recently completed an internship at a major Beaumont museum enhancing her education, gaining experience she hopes will lead to the next opportunity and even taking a piece of the museum’s collection – a petrified rat – on a road trip.

As an intern for the McFaddin-Ward House Historic House Museum, Knox worked from June to the first of rainey knoxSeptember digitizing a large portion of the museum’s collection. As a result of her work, the archives and oral Interviews are now accessible online. The other main facet of Knox’s internship was research, which furthered her investigative skills and helped the museum gather information for its expansive collection.

“What impressed me most about Rainey is her creativity,” said Ashley Thornton, curator, McFaddin-Ward House. “She constantly pushes herself to produce her best work. As a result of her diligent work ethic and poise, her creativity shines through with ease and effectiveness.”

The internship opportunity at the McFaddin-Ward House, which is available every summer, was especially appealing to Knox, a Beaumont native who was homeschooled her high school years. By the time she was 16, she had achieved the rank of full docent at the historic home located in Beaumont’s historic district near downtown and was giving tours. During the years she served as a docent, Knox also volunteered in the home’s reserve collections and was allowed to handle objects on current display.

“I like to teach people in a nontraditional environment, and I think museums are really important to education,” said Knox. “I think it’s very important for people to be able to engage in actual objects instead of just in a classroom setting.”

Knox has been to museums all over the world and toured many historic homes on both coasts of the U.S. On one trip to Leipzig, Germany she stayed with family friends in their 100-year-old home. Despite her travels to museums near and far, Knox’s love of utilitarian objects of the past came from her docent work at the McFaddin-Ward House.

“I was given a spoon that was quite eroded on one side, and it really finally clicked with me that someone must have loved that spoon,” said Knox. “I had this ‘a-ha’ moment because you can see that someone was here and using this object. That, for me, just ties it all together and reminds us that we’re a collective.”

Among the Tiffany lamps, wool rugs, pink damask chairs and trumpeted cordial glasses, the McFaddin-Ward collection contains a petrified rat, a coveted treasure.

“The rat had been caught in a trap in a remote location in the carriage house,” said Knox. “They discovered it years later and it was perfectly mummified because of our humid environment. It’s in perfect condition.”

When Knox began her internship, the rat was on loan to the Bryan Museum in Galveston as part of its exhibit on the plague. She got to go to Galveston, spend a day touring the Bryan Museum and retrieve the rat to bring it safely back to the McFaddin-Ward collection.

“That’s just another thing I love about the job. When you loan something out you get to go and explore and see how others interpret objects and see what their collections are like,” said Knox. “There is a sense of community in the museum field.”

Traditionally, McFaddin-Ward interns create a physical exhibit as part of their efforts, however, due to COVID-19, Knox contributed the museum’s first digital exhibit, “Contemplations on Crafts,” which can be viewed on the museum’s website.

I’m very grateful to have achieved this first major internship and to have an exhibit easily accessible online,” said Knox. “I think it’s definitely going to help me get bigger internships in the future. I’d love to do something in Houston, the east coast or in Europe. That’s where I’m interested in going from here.”

For information about internships and jobs, contact Lamar University’s Career & Professional Development at 409.880.8878 or go to the Career & Professional Development website.