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Case Study: Neil

Personal details
Degree:PGDip Museum and Gallery Studies Profile picture
School(s): School of Art History
Year of Graduation:Nov-2009
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: n/a
Job title: Archive Curator
Occupational Sector: Archiving
What has been your route to getting your current position?

I have worked and volunteered at a number of museums and libraries. This is my first curatorial position, which I gained shortly after finishing the MGS course at St. Andrews.

What does your job involve ?

I am working in collaboration with an artist, Bob and Roberta Smith, to interpret the Epstein Archive, which the gallery recently acquired. My main roles are to catalogue the archive itself and to help the artist in any way I can with the interpretation of it. This has included installations, films and live performances

What are the best bits of your job ?

Working with the artist has been undoubtedly the best part of my job. I really enjoy the process of collaboration and I have been surprised by the breadth of tasks I have undertaken. We have made a number of short films connected to the archive, which have been great fun. I had never edited a short film before, and this is something that I have enjoyed learning. I’ve been quite lucky in that the gallery gives me a great deal of freedom to explore the role however I wish.

Why were you successful?

I think that the three most important things that helped me get the job were the MGS course at St. Andrews, without which I would have been unlikely to even get an interview. Secondly, the volunteering in museums that I had done prior to appointment – work experience is very useful when it comes to talking about relevant experience in interview. Thirdly, having got advice from Helen Butt at the Careers Centre, I was myself in the interview. I didn’t pretend that I could do things that I had no experience in and emphasized what I could do. I think that the coaching that Helen gave me prior to interview was very important.

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

The course gave me numerous skills that helped me get the job. At a basic level, I simply wouldn’t have known how to do my job without the course. Training in cataloguing, experience in curating exhibitions, learning about team work – these all aided me hugely in getting this job.

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

From my own experiences, I would say that volunteering in museums and galleries is one of the most important things that you can do. It may seem like a pain sometimes, namely as you don’t get paid, but you gain experience and contacts that would be difficult to come by otherwise. The museum/gallery community is surprisingly small, so there is no harm in getting to know as many people as you can.