This is guest post by Oliver Spiers, Trainee Curator- British Museum who graduated from our program early in 2011. You can read Olly’s thesis here [pdf].
Having recently completed a Masters in Cultural Heritage Management at Flinders there comes a point where you finally submit, take a sigh of relief and then think ‘what the hell am I going to do now?’ I was lucky enough to come across a traineeship at the British Museum called the Future Curators project.
Among the five posts they were advertising there was one position available to work with the Oceanic collection. Despite there being about 700 applicants for the five positions I was lucky enough to get selected. One of the key points in my favour was the experience that Flinders offers students to work directly with Indigenous communities, whereas some of the other applicants had a more detailed knowledge of specific regions and objects, very few had actually been to these places or worked with communities.
Since the traineeship started earlier this year, it has literally been non-stop work in many different areas. My tasks have ranged from researching objects about to go on display, such as a Crocodile mask currently on show at the museum until October, to selecting my own objects to put on show for the next two years. My personal favourite so far has been stalking people around the gallery ‘evaluating’ how they use some of the new technology we offer visitors, as well as what they go look at and how long they spend with a specific collection. It is quite surprising how many people simply walk through a gallery without even looking at anything, although this may be because Ancient Cyprus is a slightly dull topic, especially compared to mummies and shiny objects just down the corridor.
Although only an 18 month traineeship, the experience I’m gaining is going to make finding work in museums that much easier next year. So if anyone is tempted, the next round of traineeships should be advertised at the start of 2012, so keep an eye out for it!!