Michael Banks, Curator: Museum Job Spotlight
My name is… Michael Banks
The name of my museum is… Griffith University
My job title is… Curator – Griffith Archive
What’s your day to day like? What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility is to tell the Griffith Story. Which essentially means preserving and sharing the history of my organization – Griffith University. I undertake a number of tasks including collection management and development, exhibition curation, historical research projects and social media engagement.
My days are very interesting and varied – at least from my point of view. I could be asked to provide historical images from our collection to the High Court of Australia, undertake research for academics or a faculty on a particular topic, curate an exhibition for a public event, or rescue some old images or film that someone has found hidden away in a storeroom. No one day is ever the same.
What is your absolute favorite part of your job? ?
It might sound a bit cliché’ – but the best part of my job is that I learn something new every day. Each day, I learn something new about Griffith University which in turn helps improve my telling of the Griffith Story.
What advice would you give someone that wants to work in your profession?
Again, it might be cliché’ to say this – but be open to opportunities. Try to be flexible and agile in your approach to gaining work in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector. Let’s say your dream job is to be a museum curator. You need to remember that this might be a dream job for lots of other people as well. GLAM jobs (at least in Australia) are keenly contested.
So if you are finding your opportunities to break into museum work are limited – try to gain employment in say a library where you get involved in cataloguing and/or collection development. What you learn in the library while working with a collection – will likely be transferable to working in a museum. Museum curators will often need a level of collection development/cataloguing knowledge and/or experience.
What is the best part about working in the museum industry? ??
Preserving material for future generations to view and interpret. Reaching new or expanding existing audiences by presenting innovative exhibitions and engagement programs – is also personally rewarding for me.
What part of your job is the most surprising?
I still remain surprised at some of the stories and material I come across that has relevance to the the Griffith Story. A few years ago, I found a class photo of some foundation students from 1975. In that photo, there was a student nursing a goat. Upon investigation – I discovered the student holding the goat had brought the animal to campus to act as the class mascot. I am still trying to establish whether the goat graduated or not.
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