What is your current work in the culture, museum or heritage fields?
I am currently the Operations Coordinator at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. The Maritime is a mid-size museum with under 10 full-time staff members. Its mission is to “promote and preserve our maritime experience and heritage and to engage people with this ongoing story.” The museum opened in 1955, and moved to its current location in downtown Victoria in 1965. It has a large collection, an extensive research library and archive, and three floors of exhibits in its heritage building, so there is always a lot to do!
When did you graduate from CRMP? What was your degree?
I graduated from the CRMP in December, 2013. At UVic, I was taking a Master’s Program in History conjointly with the Graduate Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage. The two programs paired very nicely together, and it worked well to finish both programs over the 16-month period.
Describe a typical day in your current job.
In my current role, I manage the day-to-day operations of the museum. Because we have a small staff, day-to-day management can vary widely, and can include everything from human resources and other administrative work to exhibit and program coordination. While part of my day is made up of routine tasks like ordering supplies and arranging building maintenance, I also get to work on things like putting together lecture series, organizing the museum’s book club, assisting facility rental bookings, and helping design and mount exhibits. Every day is different, which is something I really enjoy about my position.
How do you think the CRMP influenced the way you approach—or found—your new job?
The CRMP has influenced my approach to my job in a variety of ways. On the one hand, it provided me with the practical skills for tackling the day-to-day work at the Maritime. Everything from creating community engagement plans to implementing project charters, and from conducting visitor experience surveys to producing comprehensive exhibit plans was covered in the various courses I took in the CRMP. All of these practical skills have been essential on a day-to-day basis. Though I had worked at a museum previous to the Maritime, in some cases it was great to get some reinforcement on what I was already doing, and in other cases the program provided totally new approaches and skills that I have found essential in my new role.
On the other hand, the CRMP also provided the theoretical background and global context for making big decisions and tackling strategic planning in an informed and meaningful way. The program places strong focus on how the heritage industry is changing, how global forces are impacting museums and heritage institutions, and the solutions that other professionals and institutions are putting forward to stay current and relevant in the 21st century. I have found this theoretical knowledge essential not only to placing my institution in a broader context, but also to placing myself and my future in this field in perspective.
Finally, of course, I can’t forget to mention that the CRMP was actually responsible for my new job. In May, I started at the Maritime as an intern through the CRMP Internship program. The staff at UVic helped me arrange the internship, helped outline projects and learning outcomes for summer internship, and provided support and feedback throughout the process. The experience was invaluable, and the opportunity to get a foot in the door at the Maritime ended up leading to a contract position, and then to my current full time position.
What courses have you found most valuable in informing you in your current career?
One of my favourite courses was a Social Engagement course. Though all the courses were great, and they have all been very useful, in my current role I find myself liaising between the museum and community stakeholders on a regular basis. This might include facilitating discussions with other institutions, communicating with community organizations, interacting with the Board of Directors, organizing lecturers, or managing exhibit specialists. In coordinating between all of these very different groups, it has been extremely valuable to have the practical and theoretical resources that the Social Engagement course provided.
Describe your best memory from CRMP.
In one course, we read a great article about a museum in Alberta which invited community members into the museum to select pieces out of the collection to include in a “treasures of the collection” style exhibit. I thought it was a brilliantly coordinated exhibit, and that the Curator in charge of it had done a very clever job of making the collection accessible, visible, and meaningful. One great thing about the CRMP is that people from all over the world and at any stage of their career can be in the classes. It turned out, I realized, that the Curator of that exhibit didn’t just have the same name as someone in the class – it was the person in our class! It was wonderful to be able to directly ask her all about how she conceived of, designed, executed, and evaluated the exhibit!
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you’re considering taking the CRMP jointly with another program at UVic, I strongly recommend it. I felt that the coursework overlapped well, and that my History MA really informed my coursework in the CRMP and vice versa. Both programs were very accommodating, and I think that the CRMP was a great way to ground my MA in the public sphere.
- Posted March 1, 2014