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Wednesday, 2 May 2018

30 before 30: Museum Rites of Passage

How is it Spring already? When we first thought about this article the year was looking fresh and we were starting the countdown to our 30th birthdays - now they are fast approaching! Age is only a number isn't it? But this has given us an opportunity to reflect on our time so far and how we have developed into mid-career professionals. Sure, we're pretty peeved that we've not made it onto the Forbes 30 before 30 list but has anyone in the museum world?! Where is our museums 30 under 30 list - looking at you Museums Association!

While 30 before 30 lists may feature of our #careergoals Pinterest boards they certainly give unrealistic expectations to what you can achieve, especially in an industry where it takes years of studying, volunteering, bouncing around positions to get a single toe on the ladder. So, the typical Ministry fashion we thought we'd mix it up a bit and think about the 30 rites of passage you may experience as you move from early career professional to mid-career professional. 

  1.  Get a paid museum job! It’s been a hard slog and you’ve spent way more hours volunteering with way too much responsibility but you’ve made it! 
  2. Apply for a new job a month into your contract – with short term contracts we’ve all spent time at work ‘in the stores’ applying for a job as soon as you’ve got one.
  3. Break an object (because we've all been there)
  4. Sign up for Museums Showoff 
  5. Delete a record on the Collections Management System - by accident of course.
  6. Have a strop for not being invited to an exhibition opening 
  7.  Finally get invited to an opening 
  8. Get so drunk at an opening on the excitement of free booze and canapes that you puked in the toilets - hey at least its not on an object!
  9. Pull a sickie for a hangover (after the opening)
  10. Pull an all-nighter on an install (or several in a row)
  11. Wake up in the middle of the night and panic about the location of an object or status of a loan.
  12. Go to a museum late and dance the night away 
  13. Rip your jeans at work - right. across. the bum.  
  14. Play pallet truck races in the stores (a safe distance from the objects, obvs). 
  15.  Eat at the nearest dirty café to the museum
  16. Schmooze your way into a free coffee in the museum cafe
  17. Speak to the director of your favourite museum, have a fan girl panic, then creepily add them on LinkedIn. 
  18. Have your photo taken for press and marketing 
  19.  Stalk a celebrity in the museum - and know how to act around them
  20.  Be called a curator (even if you’re not) correct them, explain, give up, let someone call you a curator. Conservator also counts. 
  21. Explain to your family that you won't be going on antiques roadshow. Also why you won't be buying a house any time soon. 
  22. Explain that you're not able to give valuations for their ‘priceless’ vase/necklace/hunk of junk that’s been in the garden shed for ten years. 
  23. Go on a courier trip! 
  24. Realise that overseas courier trips are actually a bit lonely and there is a lot of waiting around. 
  25. Fall out of love with museums, fall back in love with museums. In, out, shake it all about - this one never goes away. 
  26. Spend every Thursday lunchtime refreshing the Leicester museum job page. 
  27. Spend every weekday working in your museum, then every weekday evening at other institutions at events and openings. 
  28. Visit an exhibition and spend most of your time checking out the art hanging, checking the distance between the object and the barrier and tutting if it’s against your own museum policy. 
  29. Check out a range of museum stores and have storagegasms at their plan presses, rolling racking, shelving, the things we would do with good storage facilities! 

  30. Make friends and as you move on, get insider info from museum across London and the country!


This is not an exhaustive list and nor is necessarily something to aspire to but most of these points have been part of our journeys.  We'd love to hear more about how your museum career looked in your 20s! Tweet us @curiositytweet using #30before30. And if you are writing for the MA and want to publish a UK museums 30 under 30, just make sure to publish it in the next few weeks, ok?!

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