Everyone who works in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) sector has a unique career pathway. However, with the ongoing incredible financial pressures on this industry, and seeing fellow organizations we know and love in Victoria recently closing, we recognize that it can be difficult to see yourself beginning a heritage or museum career.
There is no blueprint for a career, but in this #MeetMMBC series of blog posts, staff at the Maritime Museum of BC want to share how they got into their field of museum work, and what industries, skills, and contacts helped them along the way.
What is your name and what do you do?
Hello! My name is Tina, and I am the Development Coordinator at the Maritime Museum of BC. In a nutshell, my role works directly with memberships, donations, and marketing!
What was your first museum role?
Fun fact: this is my first time working in a museum! I am so grateful to the Maritime Museum for the opportunity.
Did you find any degree or diploma programs useful for museum work?
Absolutely! In December 2021, I received a BA from the University of Victoria for my double major in Anthropology and Art History & Visual Studies. I wholeheartedly endorse these programs if you have a passion for working in the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums). The professors in these departments are incredibly knowledgeable and deeply committed to their students’ success. Thanks, UVic!
Have you worked outside the GLAM sector, and has that contributed to your museum work?
Most of my professional background has been within this sector, specifically in a gallery setting. However, my most recent position before joining the Maritime Museum team was at a small independent company called Elate Beauty. My title there was Community Engagement Coordinator, yet as is often the case with small businesses, my responsibilities extended across various departments within the company. This flexible work environment gave me many valuable skills that have proven to be highly transferable to my role in the museum.
Have you completed co-op or intern terms of work? Were they paid or unpaid?
While not formally designated as internships or co-op programs, I did have the opportunity to work in roles tailored for students in the past. These positions were 100% compensated, providing a valuable learning experience while still supporting me financially.
In the GLAM sector, what has been your breakdown of full-time vs. part-time or casual work, and permanent vs. temporary contract work?
My positions within the GLAM sector have mostly been full-time contract work while I was in school. I would alternate between eight months of university coursework and four-month contracts in libraries or galleries. When the pandemic began, I actively pursued additional opportunities within the gallery where I was already employed. This gave me additional experience and provided a more stable income during uncertain times. My employment at the Maritime Museum is my first permanent position within the GLAM sector.
Have you been mentored?
I have not been mentored officially, but I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the guidance and support of former colleagues and professors, who I like to think of as my informal mentors. I am so thankful for them!
Why do you do museum and heritage work?
The true root of my fascination with museum and heritage work stems from a specific reason: my love of stories.
In museum collections, each item has a unique history that, when placed with other pieces, forms a larger and more complex story of the past. Through these narratives, I discover an extraordinary connection to the lives and experiences of those who once possessed and used these objects. As the saying goes, stories grant us the opportunity to live a thousand lives, or in the case of the Maritime Museum, hundreds of thousands of lives. I can’t wait to experience as many stories as I can!