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Master of Cultural Heritage
Currently working for:
Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, Connecticut, USA
How long have you been working for this organisation?
Position title and short job description:
Collection Manager, Division of Historical Scientific Instruments. I preserve, catalogue, research and create exhibits about scientific instruments used at Yale since the University began in 1701. I present my research at conferences around the world and I write at least one journal article a year on a particular piece of apparatus. Within the University, I provide instruments for classroom teaching and I supervise undergraduate research. I also put together classes for primary and secondary students to teach them about the history of science.
Working highlight so far:
Filming an episode of “Greatest Inventions” with Discovery Channel about the discovery of the x-ray. I got to meet (and work with) “Bill Nye the Science Guy” for the day and they even filmed me cleaning a 19th century x-ray tube.
What are the things you enjoy most about your job?
I love creating exhibits and being part of the exhibit design process; it’s a rare creative outlet for me. I also love doing primary research and going through the archives of old Yale scientists and finding links with instruments in the scientific instrument collection. The history of science at Yale is poorly documented so I feel like my research is contributing to the rich history of this wonderful institution.
An area in which you have needed assistance:
Keeping up with technology in the museum world is really difficult. As a collection manager, you’re obviously expected to be able to operate your cataloguing software but you also have to know about the digitisation processes or standards for photography or scanning, you need a grasp of web design, html and other web based software and you need to be able to operate various other collection related software. In my museum we have staff using voice recognition software for data processing and we just implemented a new barcode location system. Learning these systems and technology takes time and it can be challenging. So, I've had to take classes occasionally to boost my working knowledge so I can operate more efficiently with less risk of error.
What do you intend to do in the future?
For the moment I'm happy to stay in collection management. However, I would like to work for a museum consultancy firm and do short term project based work in the field of design for museum and collection spaces.
#1 tip for current students studying your course:
Volunteer or work in a museum or cultural heritage institution at the same time as studying, it’s really important to apply what you learn. Working also helps reaffirm what you do and don’t know and what you need to know more about.