In five words, describe your place in the sector.
Collections access advocator and facilitator
What first drew you to the sector i.e. Do you have a particular memory of a moment that got you hooked?
I’ve always been fascinated by our collective histories. Growing up I watched too much Time Team and trained to be an archaeologist. After I secured a job with the National Trust U.K. I was hooked.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
Moving from the UK was hard, in particular having to grow a professional network from scratch and find my way into the sector. I was only given a nine month visa to find a full time, permanent job in museums, which added a bit of pressure to the mix!
Nowadays the challenge comes from the nature of my role as an untraditional and perhaps not quite understood or embraced position in the wider museum context because I really sit between Collections and Digital efforts. By trying to provide new and unprecedented access to our objects I have had to challenge the conventional mindset. Overcoming this means we were able to forge an open policy that allows everyone not only to access our information, but also to download and use our content on their terms.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
I am so fortunate to have had several managers who have seen some potential in me and taken a risk to support me and to help me grow. They recognised that a person is far more than the sum of their experience and they have helped really me to develop the skills I needed to progress. They taught me what it means to be a leader (Thanks Windsor, Tom, Taryn, Michaela).
I also have a great group of colleagues who continue to inspire and delight me with humour, good sense and great ideas. You know who you are.
And finally, Tess, who I count on in a thousand different ways, every day.
What do you think people at your own level bring to the sector?
The ability to re-inspire those amongst us who still love what we do, but sometimes need new eyes to remember the wonder that drew us all here in the first place. It’s this ability that causes positive change.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
We need to rethink the way we digitally share our collections with the world. As a sector we have a tendency to replicate our back of house databases online, yet our curators and exhibition designers have thousands of ways to share the stories of our collections on the museum floor. It just wouldn’t be acceptable to print out an excel file and tack it to the gallery wall and yet this is what we do online. Of course this is because we are trying to get our collections out there and this is the easiest way to do it. As it becomes commonplace to share our national collections on the web, I think that we should start to create systems that accept not just an assortment of voices and views, but also their contexts.
Our audiences have access to an unprecedented amount of data online, however the foundation of what museums do will continue to rest in community knowledge holders and curatorial expertise. We must create digital spaces that celebrate our institutional voice as a trusted source whilstmaking space for the knowledge seeker, the expert, the artist. I believe that our collection’s web presence should reflect what we are doing on our museum floors and allow for organic and agile navigation through our shared cultural content.
We have to let people speak. We have to hear them. It is not enough to expect them to listen.
What is your karaoke song?
Lol…no comment J