Hailing from Pennsylvania, Rachael McGlensey is on a six-month U.S. Embassy supported internship working as Collections & Conservation Intern at Bahrain National Museum. Rachael was particularly interested in experiencing a different area of the Middle East after having worked in Jordan previously.
Hear from Rachael in her own words…
Rachael described her decision to come to Bahrain saying, “Great…Although I have a Master’s degree in Museum Studies, I hadn’t worked in a museum prior to this, so it was great to be able to practice all the skills I’d gained during my degree. My last position as an archivist allowed me to apply some of my knowledge, but my role in collections care at the Bahrain National Museum is much closer to what I would ultimately like to be doing with my career. I don’t really get homesick. It helped that my group of friends does weekly game night video calls, and I talk to my family regularly as well.”
“The global situation of 2020 presented unique challenges in this regard, but it wasn’t hard to settle into Bahrain. It’s very accommodating to expats, and everyone I worked with in the museum was very kind and welcoming.”
“Regarding experiencing a new place, say yes to everything. Meet new people and accept their invitation, go to events, visit as many sites as possible, try new things, and listen to all the locals’ advice. In terms of the work itself, be confident in your abilities! When in doubt, go back to research. Anything you might need help with, you can find resources and communities for online, whether it’s travel nerves or career advice.”
“The artifacts here are older than anything I’ve worked with before, so it’s wonderfully mind-boggling to handle pottery made by humans 4,000 years ago and consider how similar we are. I love being able to constantly learn new things about the objects I’m working with. Another highlight of this experience has been the opportunity to really put my collections care skills into practice. I’ve gained more confidence in myself and my abilities, and it’s incredibly satisfying to know I’m making a lasting contribution here, and that I’m well-equipped to do so at other institutions as well.”
“A common challenge of working in the Middle East is sourcing appropriate museum/ archive quality storage material. It’s not as readily accessible as it is in other areas I’ve worked, such as the US or the UK, so in order to preserve objects as safely as possible, it often takes a combination of research and bargaining with local and international vendors, and adaptability to work with materials that are locally available. But these are valuable skills to have in any field, so I’m grateful for the insight this challenge has provided.”