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Case Study: Mark

Personal details
Degree:MA History of Art Profile picture
School(s): School of Art History
Year of Graduation:Jun-2002
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Museums Galleries Scotland
Job title: Membership Development Manager
Occupational Sector: Museums, galleries and Auction houses
What has been your route to getting your current position?

After completing the Robert Jones Scholarship I discovered that scholarships existed in the USA which would allow me to study museum theory at a Post Graduate level. I graduated from University of Missouri - St Louis in 2006 with an MA in History and a Graduate Certificate in Museums Studies, achieved after two years of study and internships at a contemporary art museum, private art foundation and state history museum.

Late 2006 I returned to Scotland and was the contracted project officer on a £600k Heritage Lottery Funded local museum re-development in Moray. After the museum opened I started working in my current post for the membership body of over 340 museums in Scotland.

What does your job involve ?

Museums Galleries Scotland is a membership body for museums and galleries throughout Scotland. My role includes attracting new members, assessing grant applications, providing internal support to colleagues, liaising with members on major external projects like the Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as acting as the organisation’s representative at various events and with numerous stakeholders.

What are the best bits of your job ?

Undoubtedly, the best bits of my job involve the travelling opportunities to visit museums all over Scotland and I often sneak a view of the objects in storage, behind the scenes. I have attended various conferences in England and even had a trip to Kolkata in 2009 for a project connecting Scotland’s museums to India.

Why were you successful?

While at St Andrews I volunteered at Hill of Tarvit (National Trust for Scotland) and interned at Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice for three months in the Summer of 2001. From there my internship experiences have included all types of art/history institutions which I think gives me broad knowledge of what the diverse Scottish museums and galleries face on a daily basis.

What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
The knowledge of art and history proved useful when working with curators and educators in the museums and galleries. In the museums the passion of studying art at St Andrews continued with me while working with it! Since moving to desk work the communication skills used at university have been more helpful than the skills of ‘how to look’. I am part of the communications team and my role involves working with many different types of people, which has been helped by the experiences from my degree.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
The museum and gallery sector is very small in Scotland and there are increasing opportunities to volunteer and more paid internships will be available in the future. Keep the passion, read the latest news on ideas and advances in the field and become involved with your local museum or if possible a museum/gallery you most admire. Remember curators are not the only jobs in museums, they need marketers, fundraisers, educators, conservators, and passionate effective leaders.