It has been way too long since I’ve written a post for GLAM Blog Club. This month, the theme is How I Ended Up Here. Not only does this allow for some great feelings of nostalgia, but also, time to reflect on my journey. It’s so easy to get caught up in the present or dread/fear/anticipate the future. How often do you take the time to sit down and really just remember where you started and how far you’ve come? I’m hoping that by writing this blog post, I can take the time to feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. I also hope that if you’re reading this post, you can also take some time out of your day to do the same.
Ok, so my story begins all the way back in primary school. Visiting museums was, for me, the best excursion ever. Seeing all the cool dinosaur bones and dioramas at the Queensland Museum is something that I can still so vividly remember. Especially seeing the two large dinosaurs that were and still are outside the museum in an outdoors area. My other hazy memories of museums and art galleries include visiting the Queensland Art Gallery and completing just about every school holiday activity I could find. I grew up really valuing museums and this is something that would continue.
I’m going to skip ahead to my first year of University. History was my absolute favourite subject in school so it made sense to enrol in a Bachelor of Arts/Social Science at the University of Queensland majoring in history. I eventually dropped the latter in order to focus more on my Bachelor of Arts. After trying almost every elective, I settled on a German language/culture minor. What proved to be an extremely good choice as it allowed me to spend some time/fall in love with Berlin. While I enjoyed studying history, I was more interested in how history is presented and how you can use objects to tell stories.
One day, during my first exam period, I was procrastinating and googled every museum in Brisbane just to see if they accepted volunteers. I found the MacArthur World War II Museum in the City and thought it would be a cool place to start gaining some museum experience. For about two years, this was my only volunteering gig. I would go in every Saturday and help with welcoming visitors, running tours, etc.
It encouraged me to apply for a 2013 history scholarship at the University of Queensland which involved curating a display case in the Queensland Parliament Library. I loved writing labels for an exhibition about international exhibitions. It was meta, it allowed me to reach out to the community, and, most importantly, it meant I could learn a lot about Queensland’s history from rare books and manuscripts.
After this scholarship, I started my honours year writing on memorialisation of the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials. I wanted another volunteering opportunity so I could balance my time and feel like I was actually using my skills. I was absolutely thrilled when the Queensland Police Museum gave me the wonderful opportunity to work with and publish parts of their textile collection. It sparked a long-lasting love of historical textiles. At this stage, I was pretty confident that I wanted to study Museum and Heritage Studies. The University of Queensland had a course, but I wanted to try something new. I sent my application to the University of Sydney and was accepted to start studying mid-2015. In the six months leading up to me moving inter-state, I worked and volunteered almost everyday to build my experience and learn everything I could possibly want to know.
I continued volunteering at the Police Museum. I also started volunteering at the Commissariat Store Museum (a convict museum in Brisbane) and the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology in Caboolture. It was a very tiring six months but I am so glad I took the time to really get a grip on what I was going to study.
Then I moved to Sydney. One of the best decisions I have ever made. After a month of living in Sydney I got my first paid job in the museum/heritage sector as an education tour guide on Cockatoo Island. I still remember how excited I was when I got the job as this was really my first paid job doing what I loved. After my first semester, I boarded a plane to Melbourne to intern at the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History. Here, I developed a love of medical objects/history and learnt so much from my supervisor, Monica Cronin. It was during this internship that I realised this kind of work was exactly what I wanted to do and there was no going back.
For about a year, I held seven casual/part time jobs in museums and at heritage places (see About Me or my Extended CV for a list!). I did so because casual work was really all over the place and I needed to piece together something that resembled a full-time job. The stress of filling out rosters, ensuring I had enough hours, was insane. This was all worth it in the end. I gained so much experience in so many different areas I was confident and prepared to go for something more permanent.
In August this year, I started my role as Exhibitions and Education Officer at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum. In just a couple of months, I have already had so many incredible opportunities. I can’t wait for the years ahead.
That’s my long-winded How I Ended Up Here story. I could not have ended up here without the support of oh so many people. At the risk of turning this into an Golden Globes acceptance speech, you know who you are and I thank you. I am incredibly proud to be in this industry and to have ended up exactly where I am.