An apprenticeship behind the scenes at the museum

Rosie O'connorMuseum folk can be quite a daunting bunch with their degrees and doctorates about art, history and design.  The idea of having a career in a museum can seem out of reach for many.

So it’s been refreshing to bump into Rosie O’Connor a few times as I’ve been wandering through the museums.

Always friendly and keen to help, Rosie is on an apprenticeship with the Royal Pavilion & Museums, learning all about how a museum works behind-the-scenes.

Rosie, 21 originally from Gloucestershire had been working for a small charity in Brighton when she saw the apprenticeship role advertised. She is now into her second year.

‘I got a place at university but decided not to go,’ says Rosie. ‘It was the last year before the fees went up and it felt like a big yes or no. I decided no and moved to Brighton, where my boyfriend was.

‘I’m really pleased now that I made that decision not to go to uni as I’ve enjoyed the work so much and got so much experience. There are courses on museum studies which my family suggested I study for but I don’t think they are the areas of a museum I’m interested in. They are more aimed at teaching and educating and I’m more interested in the administration side, I think.

‘I’ve now completed my Level 2 NVQ in Customer Service and I’m about to do Level 3 diploma in Business Administration. I do my college work one day a week, which usually involves collating the work I’ve done at the museum.

‘We get so many applications at RP&M from people who have studied history of art at university and they are all looking for unpaid work experience doing just what I’m doing. I’m really lucky as I’m being paid to learn the skills.’

Selection of butterflies in frames in Blue exhibition at Hove Museum
Blue exhibition at Hove Museum

Rosie says she is really proud of much of the work she has done at the museum around the various departments.

‘One of the best things I’ve done is working on the Into the Blue exhibition at Hove Museum. I worked on the interpretation of the work and helped to write the text panels and with the gallery design. It’s great to look at the show now and think I helped put that together. There’s so much going on and there’s always something different happening every day.’

In the future, Rosie hopes to carry on her work in museums as a career.

‘I’d love to stay working here but I don’t know what will happen. But as it is I’m really hopeful I’ve now got the experience to work in another museum in the future.’


Caroline Sutton, Blogger in Residence





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