Project Officer and Proud!
My name’s Lib and I’ve written the odd blog post in the past for The Training Museum. For two years my role involved looking after our Trainees, which meant there was never a dull moment! The majority had never considered working in museums before, but went on to achieve incredible things during their year with us. I’ve seen them undertake large-scale projects, win awards, have articles published, give conference presentations and lead public tours. Each one made a real difference to the service, and as their Trainee mum, I do feel extremely proud.
So how did I end up here? After a number of years working for contemporary arts companies, I arrived at Colchester + Ipswich Museums back in 2015 and have been completely converted. From day one I’ve felt valued and, while there was a lot of museum-specific things I had to learn (and fast), my time working for galleries proved extremely relevant. I may not be involved in putting on exhibitions or devising events, but I’d like to think I help my colleagues achieve those things.
One of the tasks I enjoy most is evaluation – I’ve always loved a spreadsheet! Knowing who our visitors are, what they enjoy and what they would change really does help us improve for the future. Finding out who is coming to our museums also gives us an idea of who isn’t, and if my colleagues and I can understand why, we can try and reduce potential barriers. Someone once told me “there’s no such thing as hard to reach audiences, just hard to reach organisations”.
I’m also extremely lucky to be involved with our team of volunteers (here I am prepping for Volunteers Week). We have a range of roles, from assisting family activities to documenting objects, gathering visitor feedback to conserving collections. During the latest round of recruitment the team in Ipswich were even looking for Lego builders! Volunteers invest their time, energy and expertise, so it’s important they feel valued and supported.
You may also find me at careers fairs, encouraging future generations to consider museums. The sector values such a diverse range of skills, it’s not just for those who have studied history (personally I dropped it at the first opportunity!). If I was to ask, ‘what roles do you think there are in museums’, how many do you think you could name? Here’s a few I’ve come to know:
access, administration, advocacy, archiving, business planning, cleaning, collections documentation, collections research, commercial, commissioning, communications, community outreach, conservation, consultancy, couriering, curation, digitisation, digital marketing, display maintenance, education, emergency planning, evaluation, event planning and delivery, exhibition design, exhibition installation, finance, finds liaison, fundraising, graphic design, HR, invigilation, live interpretation, management, membership, photography, print marketing, rationalisation, retail, security, text writing, tour guiding, training, trustee, volunteer coordination, website editing, welcome host, workshop planning and delivery…
Over the coming months, some of my colleagues who have skills in these areas will be sharing their experiences.
Ta ta for now