I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve heard someone say “oh, I didn’t get into museums the usual way”. I know people working in museums who have PhDs in history, some who started out working in labs, and others who have skipped through jobs in different industries before landing in the GLAM world. I’m a little different, one of a number who started their career knowing that museums were a place that they wanted to work, and launching straight in.
I started a Bachelor of Arts wanting to learn more about history and culture. I had done volunteering at small artist-run galleries, the Art Gallery of South Australia, and at various arts festivals, but towards the end of my undergraduate degree I thought it would be good to do some proper volunteering behind the scenes of an institution. I hadn’t worked with a collection before and I was eager to learn. I began volunteering at the Migration Museum here in Adelaide and this is really where my interest in curatorial work began. I was lucky to work hands on accessioning new objects and assisting in anything else I could. I found out about the Deakin University Museum Studies program there, and started my postgrad studies there soon after.
I was vaguely interested in working with technology, but it wasn’t something that had really captured my attention over the course of my studies. It wasn’t until I needed to pick a topic for my Masters thesis and someone suggested a case study on the new exhibition at the National Motor Museum that it really sparked my attention. I quickly became drawn into the possibilities that I could see come from utilising innovative technologies in engaging audiences. This area quickly became the part of museum practice that I was most excited by.
Serendipitously, around the time that I was writing my Masters thesis, a new museum was preparing to open in Adelaide. When I found out about MOD., I was very excited. Here was a new institution that was doing lots of the things that I had been reading about: engaging with target audience, making space for Aboriginal communities, and using technology as a method of engagement. I was lucky to be carving my niche right as MOD. opened, and then be in the right place at the right time right as a job opening arrived that was shaped like me.
I’ve learned a lot over my five years working in the GLAM sector and I am really excited for this next step. My Fellowship is an amazing opportunity to stick my nose into some of the big institutions doing exciting things, and bring it all back home with me.