Verity Smith: Project management at the National Media Museum

In September 2012, I completed the full time MA in Museum Studies, having undertaken my placement at the National Railway Museum in York. This involved working on the redevelopment of the Station Hall gallery with the Exhibitions team, and community outreach work with former railway workers.

Wishing to fulfil my ambition of developing a career in the museum sector, I began job hunting. Initially, I took up a post at the University of Leeds working as an administrator for the Clinical Research Network. Whilst most of my working week was a world away from museums and heritage, my role was very enjoyable and rewarding. It equipped me with relevant experience, transferable skills that I have since been able to apply to working in museums. I am enormously grateful for the opportunities it opened up and the perspective it provided on my career.

Concurrently to this role, I was then able to take on part time paid work for Leeds Museums and Galleries as the Youth Group Coordinator (for volunteers aged 13-24) based at Leeds City Museum. I was responsible for coordinating the first major First World War commemoration project by the museum service in 2013. This was a digital media project using Facebook’s timeline function to document effects of war on the Home Front in Leeds, the content for which was entirely developed by the young volunteers. This provided a great opportunity for partnership working with academics at the University of Leeds, community engagement with a range of volunteer groups across the city, and cultural exchange with international twinning partners. 

I was thrilled to be invited back to Leicester by Dr Sheila Watson in 2014 to deliver a seminar on the WW1 Leeds project to students undertaking the Museums and Histories module. It was a great pleasure to teach such an enthusiastic group of students!

In April 2016, I was delighted to be offered the role of Project Management Assistant in the Exhibitions department at the National Media Museum in Bradford. Primarily, my role supports the development and delivery of major and diverse temporary exhibitions which draw on the museum’s fantastic collection of film, photography and television. Our major exhibition for summer 2016, In Your Face, was an interactive investigation of the most photographed, examined, and expressive part of the human body. As part of October half term week, we worked with Aardman Animations to celebrate their 40th anniversary and reveal how some of their best loved animated creations such as Wallace and Gromit communicate through facial expression. Meeting some of the talented model makers, storyboard artists, and the founder of Aardman himself, Peter Lord, has definitely been a highlight of the job so far!

I have been a Trustee for the Social History Curators Group since 2014, a role which I consider to be hugely important in supporting museum professionals in their interaction with and care of social history collections. Since June 2016 I have taken on the role of Secretary, and I am also co-editing the SHCG Journal, a peer-reviewed publication, for 2017. SHCG is very keen to diversify and increase its membership, and is looking to better engage, work with and support Museum Studies departments and their students. More information is available on the SHCG website.