Saturday, 31 July 2010

Getting Started

This is my first ever blog posting under my new persona, 'The Secret Curator.' I'm here to tell you all about my experiences of starting out in an industry that is squaring up to difficult period, with dramatic budget cuts on the doorstep. I'll also write about exhibitions I go to and anything else I find interesting from the world of museums.

To give you a bit of an idea about myself... I'm lucky enough to have a job curating a fantastic collection in a reasonably large museum in London. It's my first paid position in a museum, but like most people who end up in this profession I've done my fair share of volunteering, visiting and pumping any professionals I could get hold of for information in the hope of getting an edge when it came to interview. I'm sure I'll refer back to some of those experiences, good and bad, as I reflect on my work.

I've been working here for about a month now, and already I can see that there are fascinating politics between different groups of staff. As the 'newbie' I feel pretty removed from it all at the moment, but I am very aware that its only a matter of time before I'm sucked in and defending the curators' corner against all those other parts of the museum. It's difficult to tell from a month 'on the inside' whether this is how the museum always runs - I really hope not! I'm fairly confident that actually a lot of the politics stems from the wider financial state in the country, with every department trying to prove their worth. In this particular museum the situation is bitter-sweet. We're lucky enough to have Heritage Lottery Funding for a gallery project, which is where the funds to pay me came from, so parts of the museum are flush with the funds to develop an exciting new display. However, other areas in the museum are facing a difficult time ahead with the general budget expected to shrink dramatically.

Despite the doom and gloom I'm incredibly excited to be working in a fantastic institution, with truly exceptional collections. They say that necessity breeds invention, and I think the difficult times ahead for museums will lead to a lot of new and exciting solutions to providing what our visitors need. I hope to write about some of these solutions here in my blog!