Graduate profile: Anna Rebus - History, consultancy and distance learning
My very first foray into the world of heritage and interpretation occurred way back in 1987 when I volunteered to give tours to dignitaries at the opening of the brand new junior high school I attended. I diligently memorised all the specifications for the new building along with the personal history of the school’s namesake. I delivered my tour with enthusiasm but I was quietly devastated when the only question asked of me by the tour group was “where’s the toilet?”
Undeterred, my enthusiasm for history and storytelling did not wane. While attending the University of Calgary, Canada, I completed undergraduate degrees in geography (urban studies minor) and archaeology (museum studies minor). I worked as an archaeological assistant for both the University of Calgary and Parks Canada before becoming a museum educator teaching visual literacy at the Nickle Arts Museum. While working as a program officer for the Cantos Music Museum (now National Music Centre) in Calgary, I decided it was time to return to school and I chose to complete an MA in Museum Studies through the University of Leicester.
Life and love took me to Australia while I was in the middle of my museum studies degree. Within a few weeks of my arrival I found a job as an interpretation officer with the South Australia Department for Environment and Heritage. This was an exciting opportunity for someone from the Canadian prairies. My job involved writing interpretive materials for national parks and working with park rangers to develop interpretive plans for the state. In addition to exploring national parks throughout South Australia, this position gave me the opportunity to tackle lengthier writing projects including a guidebook for the Yurrebilla Trail, and I co-authored a chapter for a university textbook.
I returned to Alberta in 2007 and found a job as a project historian for the Airdrie Centennial Committee. Working alongside a group of dedicated volunteers, we spent two years completing a multitude of centennial projects for the city of Airdrie including oral history interviews and DVD, historical markers, a 242-page history book, and a school resource kit. This project marked the start of my career as a museums and heritage consultant, which today involves a gratifying mix of archival research, personal interviews, exhibit and publication design, interpretive planning, curation, and writing. I have helped developed exhibits and publications for organisations across Alberta, including the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Okotoks Museum and Archives, University of Calgary Department of Family Medicine, Hungarian Veterans’ Association Calgary Chapter, and the CKUA Radio Network.
It was on a 2015 trip to one of America’s small but great museum cities, Santa Fe, New Mexico, that I solidified my decision to complete an MA in Heritage and Interpretation through the University of Leicester. The program allowed me to enhance my existing skill-set while gaining a new understanding of the changing role of museums in the modern world.
Each of my master’s degrees has enriched my career at different times in my life. My museum studies master’s helped to open doors for me as an emerging professional; my heritage and interpretation master’s degree has expanded the depth and breadth of my museum practice as a mid-career professional. I’m delighted and thankful that the University of Leicester and Museum Studies has been part of my lifelong learning journey.
Time for my next project!
Museums and Heritage Consultant Calgary, Alberta, Canada
MA Heritage & Interpretation 2016-18