I’m thrilled to be a brand-new addition to the team here at MIA while the museum undertakes a collections audit – a lengthy, intensive, but critical process that ensures everything is a collection is in order (spoiler: it’s usually not).
As a result of changing technologies, changing people, and changing practices, the ways in which a museum keeps track of it’s collection can change drastically over time. Collections audits are regular procedures undertaken to ensure that, despite these changes, a museum can still uphold it’s mission, mandate and vision.
I’ve been a big fan of collections work ever since my somewhat non-traditional entrance into the museum profession during my undergraduate degree. An Environmental Geography student, I was enrolled in my university’s Co-op education program, looking for typical environmental work (think environmental monitoring, GIS). In late spring, worried I would spend the summer with no job at all, I took a job as a Curatorial Assistant working with the collection and exhibition at the University of Victoria Art Collections. I loved everything about it, from the work (centering around another collections audit but also involving curation), exhibition design and installation, to interacting with artists. My tasks were creative, stimulating, and I believed deeply in the importance of it all. Thanks to that experience I went on to work as a Summer Museum Interpreter at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and with my Environmental Geography degree in hand I began an education in the Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto this summer.
Collections work is meaningful for everyone who interacts with a museum: visitors, artists, staff, researchers, you name it! The objects carry a multiplicity of stories, meanings, and geographies. To be entrusted with working directly with them is immediately inspiring and endlessly fascinating. The collections at MIA are, for me, are particularly important because they are voices from one of the most rapidly changing places on the planet. Furthermore they are cared for and presented by a small institution with a small staff, and it’s often these places that mean the most for particular communities. I was very fortunate to visit the Canadian Arctic during a youth-based research voyage studying climate change and art. The collections at MIA remind me of that time and of that place, and also add new layers to that experience. For these reasons and so many more I am very much looking forward to my time at MIA!
– Posted by: Lily Jackson, MIA’s Collections Management Volunteer