Claire's comment below (spoiler alert) about working in a multi-generational way is one of the things I like best about working at Te Papa. Having folk like Claire around to work with means I get the chance to work in a (to steal from the tuakana header) reciprocal way, every day. In my short time at Te Papa, Claire has worked inclusively and enthusiastically. Though many of our tuakana mention how much energy they see emerging professionals have, Claire is a great example of how much energy established people have and how well they can pass it on. So thank you Claire, I look forward to continuing to work with you in 2017!
In five words, describe your role in the sector.
Curator, connector, facilitator, sponge
What is it about the sector that you love?
That a sector exists in which I can do all the things that I love - think, discuss, imagine, write, collect and obsess about objects, meanings and ideas – all the while working with, and meeting a never-ending stream of talented and interesting people from all over the world. It is a sector that is teeming with both kindred spirits and people with very different perspectives. At its best it operates as a gift exchange of ideas, beliefs, values and skills. I learn every day.
While the people are great, I really, really love the stuff. There is no better antidote to a bad museum day, than heading to a collection store room and basking in the stuff of people’s lives and dreams in all its 3D tactile-ness. Its inspiring and humbling.
What have been some challenges in your career?
Navigating the tensions between being a generalist and an expert, finally settling into an area of expertise and almost silencing the voice that likes to whisper ‘fraud’.
Saying ‘no’ to things – there is a lot of candy on offer in the sector and it’s easy to get distracted and pulled in multiple directions. I am trying to ignore the FOMO and focus on doing less, more in-depth.
Far too many organisational restructures. Some well-handled. Others disastrous all round. As restructuring seems to be a constant, you need to work out how to negotiate the process in a way that sits well with your integrity, self-respect and respect for others.
Finding a work / life balance. Because the work is so interesting, it tends to be all-consuming and seeps into every corner of your life.
What challenges can you see moving forward?
Personally, keeping apace of and adapting to changing work practices and demands while continuing to champion traditional, long-term curatorial work, such as collecting and research, and proving their worth. And continuing to say no when I really want to say yes.
What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?
There is nothing like the bright eyed enthusiasm of a newbie to help defrost some of that institutionalised cynicism (which you might not have even realised had built up) and help you look at things afresh! It’s been said so many times before, but new perspectives, experiences, skills and ways of doing things. I love working in multi-generational teams.
What is your spirit animal?
I was a bit alarmed to discover it’s a llama, but the description totally won me over - ‘Majestic, under-appreciated and like 80's fashion: a future style icon’. According to the quiz, my time will come. Just you wait!