Monday, 15 June 2015

THE MUSEUM ROAD LESS TRAVELED

THE GRAD SCHOOL GUIDE

BY: JENNY FORD

Whenever I tell someone I'm in Museum Studies, they usually assume I want to be a curator — "Like with dinosaurs or Egypt or something?" The truth is, there are countless different roads to explore in the museum world. There is a lovely list of some of these areas of interest on the Master of Museum Studies website, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. So, I put the question to my fellow students. What museum studies path interests them, and how has that influenced their studies?

AMELIA YAN: EDUCATION

Amelia gives a school tour at the Textile Museum of Canada.
Amelia gives a school tour at the Textile Museum of Canada. Credit: Amelia Yan
1. What drew you to your area of interest?
I love working with children! As I have a background in education, I enjoy facilitating museum programs and designing hands-on learning experiences for kids.

2. What museum studies courses have been most valuable to you so far?

Museums and Their Publics (MSL1350H) and Public Programs and Education (MSL2332H) have been the most rewarding courses. They have given me insight into developing programs for different publics, as well as best practices in the profession. They have also trained me to create museum programs of my own, and evaluate their effectiveness for future improvement.

3. What book/author have you found most useful given your area of interest?
The Journal of Museum Education is the most helpful resource for me. Its articles discuss contemporary museum education practices and relevant issues within the discipline.

MADELEINE ADAMSON: VISITOR RESEARCH

Madeleine at a PAMA event conducting visitor research.
Madeleine in action at a PAMA event. Credit: Madeleine Adamson
1. What drew you to your area of interest?
I knew visitor research would allow me to engage with visitors—something I really enjoy. I also see the value in giving visitors a voice so that it is possible to incorporate their wants and needs into future exhibitions, plans, and decisions.

2. What museum studies course has been most valuable to you so far?
Hands down, the most useful course for gaining skills and experience in visitor research has been Museums and their Publics (MSL1350H). The hands-on, practical, and engaging class gave me the skills and confidence I needed to embark on several visitor research projects at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA).

3. What book/author have you found most useful given your area of interest?
Beverly Serrell and Samuel Taylor’s Try It! Improving Exhibits through Formative Evaluation has been very helpful in designing formative evaluation strategies for a current project at PAMA—interviewing visitors about their opinions on homelessness to inform an exhibition on homelessness in the Peel Region.

LEENA KILBACK: CONSERVATION & REGISTRAR

Inside Montgomery's Inn historic stie with Leena.
Leena on the scene at Montgomery's Inn historic site. Credit: Leena Kilback
1. What drew you to your areas of interest?
I studied archaeology during my undergrad and love stuff. I have collections of collections at home!

2. What museum studies course has been most valuable to you so far?
The Conservation and Preservation of Recorded Information (INF2120H) has been my favourite so far. It covered such a wide range of topics for archives and libraries and we had field trips to some awesome sites.

4. What book/author have you found most useful given your area of interest?
Conservation Concerns: A Guide for Collectors and Curators by Konstanze Bachmann covers many topics briefly for all types of materials, including their storage and conservation.

JENNIFER MAXWELL: COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT

Installing a kayak at the Fort la Reine Museum
Jennifer installing a kayak at the Fort la Reine Museum. Credit: Jennifer Maxwell
1. What drew you to your area of interest?
As an amateur historian, I spent the majority of my time studying books, articles, records, diaries, etc. My connection with the past was always removed. Working as a collections registrar at the Fort la Reine Museum in Portage la Prairie, Man. changed all that. Through objects, collections management (CM) offered me the connection with history I was lacking.

2. What museum studies course has been most valuable to you so far?
Collections Management (MSL1150H) is the classic "Collections Management 101" course. I learned something new every week. The practicum was the perfect opportunity to put theory into practice (as well as being a resume booster!).

3. What book/author have you found most useful given your area of interest?
I have found websites and databases more useful than books. Some websites and databases I have bookmarked include the Canadian Conservation Institute, the Australian Institute for Conservation of Cultural Material, and the Collections Management Standards Toolkit. These sites contain so much practical information, helpful images, and related resource links.

AS FOR ME... 
JENNY FORD: INTERPRETIVE PLANNING

Looking at collection of animal bones in a drawer.
Me peering at collections for a potential exhibit. Credit: Jenny Ford
1. What drew you to your area of interest?
I've always loved storytelling, history, and writing. Interpretive planning combines all these elements. I love how objects, text, media, and interactives work together to form a three-dimensional story for  visitors. 

2. What courses have been most valuable to you so far?
The Interpretation and Meaning Making (MSL2330H) course opened my eyes to the world of interpretive planning both on a practical and theoretical level. Museums and Cultural Heritage (MSL2370H) also helped me understand the critical issues facing museums and how that influences interpretive planning.

4. What book/author have you found most useful given your area of interest?
The book I keep returning to is Exhibit Labels: An interpretive approach by Beverly Serrell. I find it  incredibly practical when going through the process of planning an exhibition. For me, it goes beyond just labels to other exhibition elements.

WHAT'S YOUR MUSEUM PATH? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!

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