Caroline is currently an assistant learning officer at an art gallery in the North of England. She has a BA Architectural Glass and Ceramics and a Masters in museum education.
I didn’t know that this job existed until well after I had graduated from my undergraduate studies. I knew that I was good at teaching from experience as a dance teacher and as a teaching assistant in a primary school. I heard about the Masters course while volunteering with the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums learning team encouraging families to get involved with museums and galleries in the area, which I did while I was a teaching assistant. During the Masters course I had an eight-week placement in the gallery where I currently work, and after graduation worked as a freelance educator before securing a part-time post, which then became full-time.
There are lots of challenges in the work I do. I organise a schools education programme facilitating group visits to the gallery, as well as workshops and tours. We also have a family programme involving everyone from tiny tots to elderly people doing things like Christmas arts and crafts. We also run special projects, for example centred on literacy in secondary schools, where we display the responses made by pupils once they have been exposed to the exhibits in the gallery. I regularly network with teachers, arranging professional development sessions for them in how they can use art more effectively in their classrooms. Perhaps the most rewarding part of my job is working with children and adults who would not normally come in to an art gallery, seeing them learn and enjoy the exhibits.
During an average day, I have to be really flexible and need good communication skills, working as I do with really young children, adults and teachers - often in quick succession. I also need to be good at time management, enjoy teamwork and employ considerable creativity in producing resources and thinking up new workshops and ideas to engage the public. It is impossible to get bored and working with the public is lovely.
It can be quite challenging finding permanent work in this area. I freelanced for a while but others have had to take short contracts or part-time work to build up their experience. I would certainly recommend volunteering in local museums and galleries as soon as you think you might be interested in this kind of work. It is worth the slog! It is not a nine-to-five job but it offers a huge variety of work and considerable autonomy in managing your time, as well as the satisfaction of introducing members of the public to art, watching them learn and enjoy.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.