Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

MBT – Assistant Museum Curator


I’m Catherine Reade, I’m 31 and I’m an assistant curator
at the Powerhouse Museum. My job involves acquiring
objects for the collection, researching the collection, helping the curators
develop exhibitions. I go down to the basement
a few times each week to look at objects that might
be going into exhibition. So I might measure the objects, describe the objects, take just
a very quick photograph of them. And occasionally
I’d write labels that are going
into display and showcases. I would respond to
public inquiries. From time to time,
I work on the help desk and I give information
to the general public that’s come into the Powerhouse
for a visit. I also photograph the objects
and then download those images from our digital camera
onto the database. A curator
is a person who’s responsible for a collection of objects in a collecting… within
a collecting institution, a cultural institution. And they’re responsible
for developing the collection that is, bringing in objects that support
what’s already in the collection or building up
areas of the collection that are somewhat weak. And they’re also responsible
for writing articles, putting objects on display and just generally
making the collection available to the broader public. I’ve been interested in history
ever since I was little. My dad is a keen historian and has
a wonderful collection of books. I used to look at
his collection of books, probably before I could read. And then
when I was in primary school, the show ‘For Love or Money’ was released by the ABC. And, every week, it would
look at a series of antiques. And the panel
would talk about the significance
of those objects. And I was enthralled by
how things were made. And I was just impressed
by how beautiful they were and the history or stories
behind each of the objects. That really encouraged me to follow the career
that I’ve chosen. Well, I did
art history and curatorship at the
Australian National University. And my fourth year
was on curatorial studies. So that included an internship,
which was fabulous experience, and really was
what got me my job as an assistant curator. Um, the contacts
were invaluable. I recently completed
my masters of modern history and that’s been quite helpful in giving me a much better
overview of recent history and how craft and design
have been influenced by historic events. A university degree is essential
to become a curator, either in fine arts or in
museum studies or history. And I would recommend
that anybody who is interested
in becoming a curator would also do some work
experience or an internship in
that area. And perhaps move around in
different areas of the museum – in curatorial, registration,
conservation – and see what it is that they’re
particularly interested in. Hopefully, I’d like to be
a full-time… a curator in the decorative arts
and design collection. The skills that you would need
as a curator would be thoroughness, an eye for detail, a sense of organisation, an ability to work with various
deadlines and competing tasks, an ability to work with people
from all areas of the museum, and you also need
a sense of creativity because
you need to be able to visualise how a story will look within
an exhibition or in an article. You also need to have
a passion for history and an interest in
how things are made. Being a curator
is an important career because as a curator, you’re
the caretaker of the past. You’re responsible
for looking after objects that reflect the way that people
once lived, and also how we live
now and that’s obviously invaluable
to the people of the future. I love my job. I love working
with beautiful things. I love history. I love research. It’s not always
terribly exciting. There’s a lot of
administrative work to do. But it’s a real buzz
coming down to the basement and looking at objects and working with
creative people. So it’s a career
that has… You meet passionate people
all of the time. And I’m passionate about
the things that we collect.

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