Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My Museum Education Career: Life After HLF Skills for The Future training - Carly Smith-Huggins

I completed my HLF Skills for the Future traineeship back in April this year and have been up to lots since I have finished. The good news is that I have found employment in the museum education sector. During the traineeship, I trained across the Oxford University Museums learning all about museum education and outreach and working with a range of audiences from under 5s to adults. I really think that this experience helped me to shape and form my career in museum education.

Carly during her time as a Skills for the Future trainee

Since my traineeship I have been working in Oxford based museums the first being the Museum of Oxford, which is based in the Town Hall. At the Museum of Oxford I was the Heritage Learning Assistant and was responsible for the informal learning programme, specifically working with families, but I also delivered special projects with adult community groups. I designed, promoted, and delivered family workshops and activities for children of all ages and abilities. The skills, experience and knowledge that I gained from my traineeship really helped me to just dive straight in and understand family audiences and how they can benefit from museums and their collections. My favourite workshop during my time there was Tudor Tunes. This was a whole day family workshop where families could find out about the Tudors, play with Tudor toys, and listen to music played by our visiting Tudor musician. I wanted to give visitors an insight into what the Tudors might have done and how they entertained themselves, encouraging young children to see that it’s not so different to how we entertain ourselves today. There was even a chance to have a go at playing music and learning Tudor dances. 

Carly delivering a workshop

I also worked with a couple of adult community groups to create a community exhibition on the 20th century artist, James Allen Shuffrey. Shuffrey painted local and iconic Oxford buildings and colleges. During the project I took groups out to visit these locations in order to inspire them to create art works in response. Again the skills gained from my traineeship had a great influence on my ability to run this project. During my traineeship I worked with an adult community group to create lanterns for the Christmas Light Festival lantern parade and this experience really helped me to understand adult audiences and how I can support them during a project. The exhibition will be going on display from September – November in the gallery space at the museum, so go along and see it. 

Carly supporting a member of the Christmas Light Festival community group

Now, I have just started working at the Oxford University Museums again. I feel very happy to be back here working with such fantastic and passionate teams. My official job title is Assistant Education Officer: Families, Secondary, and Special projects. Half of the week I am the Families Education Officer at the Pitt Rivers Museum where I deliver family and under 5s workshops in the museum, and design trails and other activities for families to get involved with the museum and collections. The other half of the week I work in the Museum of Natural History assisting the team in a variety of ways! I will be delivering access sessions and art introductions for secondary school students as well as training and recruiting volunteers for the upcoming Science Saturday workshops for families. I am looking forward to working with a range of audiences and getting to know the collections. 

So far at the Pitt Rivers I have been running lots of events. My favourite so far was Row, Row, Row Your Boat for the under 5s. For this I took the children around the museum on a Row Boat Adventure Tour singing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ along the way. We looked for different types of boats in the museum including canoes, salamas and ships. I am really enjoying being able to put everything I have learnt over the last two years into practice and being able to work on what I am passionate about; learning, museums, and creativity. 

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