University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

A wonderful year

In November 2014 the University of Cambridge Museums recruited Lia Butler on to our Creative Apprenticeships scheme, which offers both practical and administrative experience in a cultural setting through a year-long apprenticeship.

Throughout the year Lia has undertaken a number of placements with the University of Cambridge Museums, and at Wysing Arts Centre, whilst also completing NVQ Level 2 training through Cambridge Junction’s Creative Learning Programme.

Here Lia looks back on all that she has achieved throughout her Apprenticeship.

Circuit-Unlock-Cambridge_Photo-Mike-Cameron-2015-(94)“Well, the end is nigh, and it seems all too soon. A year of bouncing between buildings and departments, and people and roles has passed, and what a year it’s been. It seems hard to give a brief overview of what I’ve done because there is so much to say. This post probably won’t do it justice, but I’ll give it a go…

In the beginning, there was an interview day, and a unique one it was. Handling objects and insights into the Fitzwilliam Museum’s galleries and collections got the candidates interested right away. I was eager to learn more about the role, and obviously eager to impress that (not so) scary panel of judges!

My first Apprenticeship placement  required me to visit each of the University museums and report back to the University of Cambridge Museums office of my experience as a visitor. Which was a great start! Getting paid to enjoy a museum isn’t half bad is it? Thank you to the lovely people in the University of Cambridge Museums team that made my start a good one!

Next placement: I head over to the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Visitor Services team. I am thrown into the galleries in those cold winter months, and I get to spend more time in each gallery than I ever would in any other role. This gave me the chance to admire the beauty of the pieces all the while getting to meet wonderful members of the public! Thank you to Mercy, Gallery Attendant, for being my ‘buddy’ and letting me follow you around for my first few days, and thank you to the rest of the Visitor Services team for generally being lovely, helpful and interesting individuals!

I move on to the University of Cambridge Museums shop on Kings Parade, where I learn all about the retail side of Museums. How to use visual merchandising when promoting exhibitions, how to select items that represent each of the Museums and teaching foreign customers how to count English currency! Thank you to Ruth, Shop Manager, for teaching me all the ways of the shop and being such a positive person, it was a pleasure to work with you and the other staff members at both the University of Cambridge Museums and Fitzwilliam Museum shops.

Over the summer I join the team at the Whipple Museum to help out with their education activities. In the beginning I was drawing colouring sheets for kids, and by the end I was leading a group of 18 year olds on a gallery session! This placement gave me the chance to utilise my creativity, designing and creating kids activities, as well as working directly with the little ones at a very busy pirate themed Chypps event! Thank you to the Whipple team for taking me on and thank you especially to Lorena, Learning Coordinator, for all your help and giving me the opportunities to do things I would never have thought myself able to do (and thanks again for lunch).

I’m now finishing my year in the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Marketing and Press team. I’m getting the opportunity to really understand the workings of this kind of department, the serious amounts of time and effort that go into each social media post, each press release, each What’s On guide, everything! So much thought is put into each task and it really has taught me the importance of attention to detail. Thank you to Tracy and Lucy, Marketing and Communications Coordinators, for the many tasks you’ve given me and all your guidance along the way.

Whilst I’ve been chopping and changing placements throughout the year, there has been one constant: Wysing Arts Centre. Getting to know the people and the processes here has been great, and the skills I’ve learnt  over the year I will be able to transfer anywhere. The events I have had the pleasure of working at have always been very interesting, the whole world of contemporary art is interesting! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck into everything to do with Wysing. Thanks  to Louise, Operations Director, for all your help, Lou, Receptionist, for generally having to put up with sitting next to me every week and to the rest of the team for being so friendly. It’s really a great place to have worked.

For the majority of my year I spent my Mondays at Cambridge Junction, working towards putting together a festival (as mentioned in my previous blog post). It was truly a privilege to get the chance to put together something like this in such a fantastic venue, a rare opportunity. Junkyard Festival: House Party will be an experience that I will not forget, and that I will always be proud of. Thank you to Lisa, Creative Learning, the other Apprentices and every member of staff that helped with planning, preparation and everything on the night. You really were the ones who made it possible.

So yeah, it’s been a busy year: lots of places, lots of faces and many valuable skills to take me onto my next steps!

But you’ve not gotten rid of me just yet… I have been offered a temporary role with the Development Office of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Many thanks to Linda for all of your support and the many opportunities you’ve given me over the course of the year. As well as thanks to Amanda, previously Opening Doors Coordinator, for taking me on in the beginning and your brilliant attitude throughout and to Marie, Children & Young People Officer, for imparting your very valuable interview and job wisdom!

Who knows where I’ll be in 2016? What I do know is that this Apprenticeship has provided me with all the right stuff for the working world, so thank you and no goodbyes just yet!”

Lia Butler, Creative Apprentice, University of Cambridge Museums

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