In five words, describe your place in the sector
Coordinating content, cameras and people.
What first drew you to the sector i.e Do you have a particular memory of a moment that got you hooked?
My Mum works in the sector, so from the womb I’ve been dragged around galleries and museums, and been set against doing the same thing my Mum did. I don’t think I was ever overly impressed by these visits, but I learnt not to touch, which seats were comfiest, and if you behaved well you could choose a postcard in the gift shop at the end.
At high school I tried to rebel and not take Art History, but ended up in the class anyway. I then repeated that at university by attempting commerce papers, but ended up doing Art History to Honours level, and getting a job as a Gallery Host at City Gallery Wellington.
I guess there wasn’t one moment in particular, but instead a gradual realisation that I actually liked art and couldn’t resist it anymore. Additionally, I’ve discovered a love for museums and am now undertaking the Masters of Museum and Heritage Practice this year.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
I want to say getting a job, but I appreciate that I’ve actually been really lucky in that regard. During my first week at university I got a job at Te Papa and haven’t left since (though I have moved jobs internally).
On a smaller scale, having to explain contemporary art to visitors at City Gallery can be a challenge, but it’s also very rewarding when you can see them “click”, and understand what you’re talking about. I think the big challenges are yet to come, and will come, when I try to get my “dream job”.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
Professionally, I’d say the Imaging Team at Te Papa. I joined the team as a complete novice, but they didn’t move. They trained me and have given me lots of opportunities. They are what every team should aspire to be – great communicators, excellent workers, and absolute coffee lovers.
Personally, I’ll never underestimate having friends I can talk to about both my loves and frustrations of the sector all day, everyday. My fellow museum friends Harriet and Catriona are great to talk to about the sector over coffee, sushi, and beer. Equally, my new classmates – and potentially future colleagues – in the Museum and Heritage Practice program are fantastic.
And I guess I better finish with my Mum, because it seems mean not too, and she’s pretty cool (sometimes).
What do you think people at your own level (emerging etc) bring to the sector?
Above having refreshing ideas and positive attitudes, I think a great addition is that most of us are technologically savvy and pick things up quickly. It may sound like a small thing, but I think it puts us at a great advantage, as we know how to reach people, connect people, and streamline processes.
It’s also an advantage that a lot of us have come out of university programs, and are thinking not only of our day-to-day work, but the bigger picture in which we are working. It’s so easy to get bogged down with your everyday tasks, but most of us “emergers” can see the greater good we are working towards, which is really what museums are all about.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
I’d like to see more organisations giving people a chance who don’t have a PhD. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a full-time job, but offering work placements and internships. The beauty about people at an emerging level is that we aren’t always looking for a money making opportunity, but just to get experience and meet people. We aren’t afraid to do the nitty gritty, fiddly, dirty work.
I’d love to see more university programmes engaging with their local galleries, museums and heritage sites, whether this is through placements, internships, field trips, workshops, or assignments. Museums are literally knowledge holders, and we should be using them like we use libraries.
What is your karaoke song?
Hungry Eyes by Eric Carmen – I’m sucker for romantic comedies, and the scene in which it’s played in Dirty Dancing so bad, but so good.