Emma (right) with Trust Chair David Strachan and Trust Manager Sam Ross
During my GCAS internship at St Andrews Preservation Trust, I was appointed Visitor Engagement Officer at the Heritage Museum. This was a valuable opportunity to foster strategies to enhance visitor engagement in the Museum, particularly during the busy summer season. Using my knowledge from my MLitt in Museum and Gallery Studies and previous experience as a tour guide, I found that working with volunteers, along with front of house duties enabled me to grow into this role.
Working closely with museum volunteers has allowed me to gather all their styles of guiding, which I used to create a tour script accompanied by some tips to help new volunteers form their own guiding styles. Skills such as communication and teamwork are essential to building a welcoming environment for our visitors. For example, I worked with a team of volunteers to produce translated guide leaflets such as Japanese, Hungarian, Arabic and Greek to form a greater accessible experience for non-English-speaking visitors.
Retail management has been a responsibility within the role where I have learned to track inventory, sales progress and identifying customers’ needs all of which are essential to generate an income for the museum. Our annual Art & Craft Sale is one example where I used both curatorial and retail management skills which I particularly enjoyed setting up.
Emma with volunteer Hunor at the Cupar Heritage and History Fair, September 2023
While putting the knowledge and experience from my MLitt studies to the forefront of my role, I also learned a new aspect of museum work – Event Management. Events are essential in helping to raise awareness of the Museum, as well as raising funds to support wider museum work. I enjoyed this aspect of my role, and being part of a wider team of volunteers and staff was fulfilling.
Taking onboard the skills and experience from the internship has been unbelievably valuable and will help me develop new skills with regards to collections care, engagement, events, and fundraising. This would not have been possible without the opportunity and funding being granted by GCAS. At the end of my internship I had my contract extended and will now be working as Project Collections Assistant during the major redevelopment of the museum. I look forward to continuing to improve my collection care and management skills, while engaging the wider community with collections and promoting St Andrews Past and Present through events and tours. Working with a dedicated volunteer workforce brings a great satisfaction to my job and has helped me build on my career as a museum and heritage professional.