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Case Study: Emma

Personal details
Degree:PGDip Museum and Gallery Studies Profile picture
School(s): School of Art History
Year of Graduation:Jun-2005
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: The Black Watch Castle & Museum
Job title: Museums Manager
Occupational Sector: Museums, galleries and Auction houses
What has been your route to getting your current position?

With a Masters in Scottish History, and a background in Community Development, attending the Museums and Galleries Studies course at St Andrews University was one way to bring together history and working with people. Before finishing the course, I began work on a project to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The project involved coordinating a reminiscence programme, an events programme, an exhibition and a schools programme. Both my community work experience and museums training were vital in obtaining the post and bringing the project to fruition. With a good background in project work, I moved on to work with a museum development partnership. My role aimed to develop collaborative working and shared best practice to increase the provision of learning and access in our partner museums, in particular developing education and events.

What does your job involve ?

I am now based with The Black Watch Castle & Museum in Perth, a medium-sized independent museum. Initially, my main task was to complete an inventory of the collection, amongst other documentation tasks. However, my role has expanded to include many other duties, including the completion of the Museum’s application to the Museum Accreditation Scheme. The job has grown to encompass a range of curatorial duties, including exhibition work and managing volunteers. Since being promoted to Museum Manager I have taken on a variety of additional roles, including project management, managing funding applications and management of paid staff.

What are the best bits of your job ?

My current job has changed much since I started and has given me the scope to develop myself personally and professionally. I’ve been given the opportunity to make my job my own, and follow the path that most interests me. The best bits of my job are seeing a project come to fruition, whether it is a grant application to assist funding new interpretation, or the formalisation of our outgoing loans process. I’ve particularly enjoyed working in our museum stores to improve the documentation and collections care.

Why were you successful?

Having a varied employment background helped me to get my foot in the door with my first museum project job – they were looking for someone with museum knowledge and community development experience, and I fitted the bill. The experience I gained in project management then served well to get my next project post, where I continued to gain experience and knowledge to get my current post.

What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?

My Postgraduate Diploma gave me a good basis to begin work in the museum sector.

What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?

Working in museums is very rewarding and I love my job. It’s a good thing, because the pay is low and jobs are scarce at all levels in the sector. Before committing to working in the sector, make sure you have gained practical experience of working in museums, have a breadth of work experience and knowledge to help you stand out from the crowd, and have researched what jobs are out there.