Blog

Museum Jobs

Costumed Educator

Time Frame: May – October 2017

Hours: 2 – 3 tours per month; approximately 2 hours each tour evening

Wage: $25 per tour

Summary:

As a costumed educator for our Shipwrecks & Ghostlore evening program, you’ll tell ghost stories, shipwreck tales, and local lore to groups of all ages. Some of the topics include pirates, witches, unusual phenomena, and eerie tales. Our museum and the stories we tell are at the very heart of the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. We are looking for enthusiastic and engaging storytellers who can deliver positive program experiences for our visitors from near and far. Content training and costume will be provided. 

Successful Applicants Will: 

  • Be interested in local history and folklore
  • Feel comfortable talking about ghosts, pirates, witches, and other unusual phenomena
  • Be able to communicate effectively with people of different ages and backgrounds
  • Have experience developing and leading guided tours
  • Be able to gauge and adapt tours to visitors’ interests and needs

How to Apply:

Please send a thoughtful email with attached resume and three professional references to Kasey Zronek, Director of Education.

Museum Jobs

Creative Content Intern

Anticipated Start Date: Summer 2017

Hours per Week: 20+

Wage: Unpaid Internship; course credit may be available

Summary:

The intern will manage the museum’s social media presence under the guidance of museum staff. This will include developing a Snapchat account for the new museum brand, in addition to maintaining a steady stream of postings on existing accounts. Throughout the summer, the intern will utilize museum resources to produce high quality photographs and videos for marketing. This internship will provide an excellent look into digital content management at a small nonprofit.

Responsibilities:

  • Consistently manage the museum’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts
  • Create & develop Snapchat account for a new brand
  • Produce quality photographs for shop and museum marketing
  • Help with occasional video-based projects
  • Generate blog content and assist with blog management

The ideal candidate will:

  • Demonstrate excellent communication skills, verbally and in writing
  • Be fluent and confident in social media management
  • Possess a creative eye for marketing photography
  • Have the ability to work independently
  • Be flexible, and self-motivated with exceptional time management skills

How to Apply:

Please send a thoughtful email with attached resume and three professional references to Kasey Zronek, Director of Education.

Museum Volunteers

Tour Guides

Volunteer with us at 24th Street on the Boardwalk!

Tour guides will help visitors engage in meaningful exploration of our exhibits. During the summer season, this means welcoming visitors, answering questions, and offering “highlight tours” of the galleries, lasting 10-15 minutes. In the slower seasons, guides can develop and offer more in-depth tours, depending on visitor interest.

Some of the topics covered in our galleries include storms, shipwrecks, beach culture, and World War II. Regardless of subject, the guide’s goal is to encourage conversation and discovery for people of all ages.

We will train volunteers in the subject areas, but it is important that applicants are able to:

  • comfortably approach and engage visitors
  • communicate effectively with people of different ages and backgrounds
  • gauge and adapt to visitors’ interests and needs
  • interact in a cheerful and courteous way
  • problem solve and work independently

Applications are due no later than 15 May 2017. Shifts are 3.5 hours, and volunteers are asked to commit to at least 1 shift per month.

The application can be found here. It can be completed digitally using free Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or other similar software.

Please send applications and direct questions to Kasey Zronek, Director of Education.

Museum Volunteers

Administrative Volunteers

Come volunteer with us at 24th Street on the Boardwalk!

Administrative Volunteers will assist the museum in its day-to-day operations. This will primarily include answering basic visitor questions via telephone. Volunteers will also help by preparing occasional mailings or materials for special events. Some volunteers will also assist with research, scanning, and filing. Regardless of task, the volunteer’s goal is to help the museum run smoothly for visitors.

We will train volunteers for specific tasks, but is important that applicants are able to:

  • interact in a cheerful and courteous way
  • problem solve and work independently
  • remain organized and detail-oriented in a busy environment
  • communicate effectively with people of different ages and backgrounds

Applications are due no later than 15 May 2017. Shifts are 3.5 hours, and volunteers are asked to commit to at least 1 shift per month.

The application can be found here. It can be completed digitally using free Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or other similar software.

Please send applications and direct questions to Kasey Zronek, Director of Education.

Museum Volunteers

Museum Ambassadors

Come spend your summer vacation with us at 24th Street on the Boardwalk!

Museum Ambassadors (ages 14-18) will host interactive Education Stations within our galleries. They will engage visitors in hands-on exploration of artifacts and teaching materials. Some of the topics include storms, shipwrecks, beach culture, and World War II. The program’s goal is to encourage conversation and discovery for people of all ages.

We will train volunteers in the subject areas, but it is important that applicants are able to:

  • comfortably approach and assist visitors
  • interact in a cheerful and courteous way
  • problem solve and work independently

Applications are due no later than 15 May 2017. The program will run from 19 June – 1 September. Shifts are 3 hours, and volunteers are asked to commit to at least 2 shifts per week throughout the summer. We will work around vacations or other plans, as long as they are communicated to the Education Director in advance. Applications will not be accepted if you will be unavailable for more than 2 weeks of the program.

The application can be found here. It can be completed digitally using free Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or other similar software. Please send application and direct questions to Kasey Zronek, Director of Education.

Coast Guard History

The Legacy of African American History in the USCG

by Kasey Zronek

On 26 September 1918, 111 Coast Guardsmen aboard the USCGC Tampa were killed when the ship was blown up by a torpedo off the coast of Europe. This represented the loss of approximately 2% of the Coast Guard’s men, the largest loss of life (by percentage) of a service in a single incident during World War I. James Jenkins Adams, an African American Cabin Steward, was one of the men killed.

On 17 January 1920, the Coast Guard commissioned former Navy Submarine Chaser SC-268 as Coast Guard Cutter Adams, to honor Cabin Steward James Jenkins Adams, who died aboard the Tampa. But…how could this be? It was 1920, and Adams was an African American. The only way he could serve in the Coast Guard was as a steward or a cook. He couldn’t even enlist as a regular seaman. And they named a ship after him?

tampa-2
USCGC Tampa (Image Courtesy of Naval History & Heritage Command)

While conducting research for our museum’s African American history exhibit, I didn’t expect to have this question. I just wanted to learn about the Coast Guard’s involvement in World War I. Instead, I found records that made me question what I thought I knew about Coast Guard history.

I assumed the first African American honored with a cutter was one of the heroes we talk about every year. Captain Michael “Hell Roaring Mike” Healy famously commanded the cutter Bear as part of the Revenue Cutter Service in the 1880s. The USCGC Healy (WAGB-20) is a polar icebreaker named for him. Alex Haley was the Coast Guard’s first and only Chief Journalist during the 1940s. USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC-39) is a former Navy ship recommissioned as a Coast Guard cutter to honor him. The two were named within months of one another…in 1999. Almost 80 years after the commissioning of the Adams.

Is it possible that the first African American to be honored with a cutter wasn’t one of these men? Could Adams have been the first one bestowed with this honor, almost 100 years ago? From the records I’ve seen, it is not only possible, but likely. Adams wasn’t a captain or a trailblazer, but he was a hero.

He was born in Key West, Florida, around 1895. His parents were immigrants from the Bahamas. His father worked as a cigar maker to support their family of six. Adams enlisted in the Revenue Cutter Service when he turned 18 in 1913. His service kept him mostly close to home, and in May 1917, he married Myrtle Chipchase, a long-time neighbor. With the world at war, the couple didn’t have much time together. In July, his ship left Key West to be outfitted for war. In September 1917, it sailed for Europe. A year later, after exemplary wartime service, the Tampa and its crew completed what would be their last convoy assignment.

111 Coast Guardsmen perished aboard the Tampa on 26 September 1918, including Cabin Steward James Jenkins Adams. Though their lives were short, the legacy of their service lives on in Coast Guard history.

Kasey Zronek is the Education Director at the Virginia Beach Maritime Museum located in Virginia Beach, Virginia

 

Museum Collection

History at the Bottom of the Sea: Virginia Beach’s Shipwreck Documentation Project

Written by William Hazel (Originally Published 05.20.2015)

Holding a lost historic treasure right in your own hands: it’s one of those special privileges shared by the staff of The Old Coast Guard Station in Virginia Beach. Working with the museum’s shipwreck documentation project, one discovers that treasures do, indeed, still wash ashore.

Many of us imagine discovering lost treasure while wandering the beach. We visualize a hillock of Spanish doubloons cascading from a rotted chest buried conveniently in the sand. Gold, silver, jewelry, and extravagant baubles lost in shipwrecks centuries ago. The treasures that are found most often, however, are the parts and pieces of the old ships themselves.OCGS_shipwreck_tag_Rudder_Piece

To museum staff, they are priceless. Kathryn Fisher, Executive Director, is buzzing around a massive wooden relic with a palpable joy.

“This is awesome.”

This shipwreck treasure is rare. The massive shape clearly reveals it is a sailing ship’s rudder; the old copper alloy fittings and pintles are still holding two large beams together. Eleven feet of pure history, from the lost age of sail, when, as they say, the ships were wooden, the sailors iron. The powerful ocean currents will usually break a piece this size into a dozen or more fragments. What washes ashore is often unrecognizable. You can identify most shipwreck finds as old, but seldom will they reveal their place on a vessel.

And there are more. Among the artifacts recently examined from the Cape Henry area is a large curved timber, what’s known as a futtock. It’s a perfect example of the complicated compound rib structure that acted as the massive skeleton of these great sailing ships. Another wreck piece holds a still intact sheet of copper–the kind used to line ship hulls against the ongoing organic attacks of shipworms and marine weeds. Still another features hand-hewn tree-nail, or trunnel holes, where pins or dowels would run to hold together timber construction. These hand-hewn runs have a completely different character than those made by machine drills. This is the kind of detail that can help date a particular find. This one may be from the 18th Century.

OCGS_shipwreck_tag_Hand_Hewn_Work

The Old Coast Guard Station Museum began its shipwreck documentation program in 1989. The goal of the program is to document all known shipwreck sites and fragments discovered along the Virginia Beach shoreline. The long-range vision of the program is to link the data with other maritime institutions doing the same.

It would be astonishing to find something that uncloaked the deep secrets of a ship’s name and origin. This area is well known in maritime history because of the thousands of shipwrecks these treacherous waters claimed. It is impossible to know for sure a particular piece belonged to a certain vessel unless it offers something unquestionable.

Staff tag and study each shipwreck piece individually; measuring, photographing, and noting important aspects of each treasure. Donated objects can become part of the museum collection. Many, though, are tagged and left, often reclaimed by the water. Austin Burkhard, a student at the University of West Florida, and intern for the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, joins the OCGS crew on this mission. He has been experimenting on the Eastern Shore with different types of shipwreck tags that can withstand Mother Nature.

“Sunlight does the most damage.” He nods with experience.

That’s not just true for the tag, its true for the entire artifact. It can survive surprisingly well rolling around in the ocean, or buried in a sand dune, but once exposed to the full UV power of the sun, it deteriorates with surprising rapidity.

OCGS_shipwreck_tag_Kathryn_Fisher“This is more than old wood,” states Fisher, seen below, her passion noticeably inflected. “This is about the people on these ships. We get closer to their lives.”

The term “shipwreck” is so homogenized in our dialogue that what really happened to the vessels, to these people, becomes too easily diminished. The famous shipwrecks are one in a million. If you think you are going to stumble onto one of Blackbeard’s rum jugs, you are missing the point.

Hampton Roads is about ships; the people that build them, the people that sail on them, the valuable cargos they hold. Gaze into the channel today and you’ll see ships that are 800, 900, sometimes 1,000 feet long, moving massive amounts of goods around the globe.

These vessels of old were doing the same. Thousands upon thousands of ships moved massive amounts of material through these waters. Crewed by hard working mariners that took to a life on the sea. Cargo was their moneymaker, their treasure. The money was in the sugar, the lumber, the potassium nitrate, the tobacco, the tar and asphalt. No engines. No radios, no modern navigation. They sailed. That’s the only option they had. They sailed these waters.

The terrible storms here chewed so many of them to bits. In a matter of minutes, Nor’easters would turn a 200-foot three-masted Barque into kindling.

OCGS_shipwreck_tag_Tag_ExampleNow, you cradle a piece of one of those ships in your hands. The wood is brittle, demanding a careful pressure. The powerful smell so distinctly salt-aged and organic. You think of the people on this ship. What were they like? You imagine their faces, their knurled hands. You imagine their clothing, the clunk of their boots on deck. You wonder where they called home. Most profoundly, you ask yourself why they didn’t make it into the safety of the bay that day.

And you feel it. You cling to this little bit of history and in your core you feel it.

Connected.