I am currently the Natural History Curatorial Trainee at Leeds Discovery Centre as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Skills for the Future’ programme. This traineeship will equip me with the skills, experience and knowledge to gain an entry level job in the museum sector.
As hinted in my byline I have a background in the Arts, my degree was in German Studies with Film Studies. However I have have always been interested in natural history, and after doing a six month internship at the Film Museum in Duesseldorf I knew I wanted to work in museums.
After graduating I went to live with my parents in the UAE. I was very lucky as the Emirates Natural History Group has a chapter in Al Ain where we lived. Even better we got to go on amazing field trips into the desert and around the oases of the UAE and Oman, which mean learning a lot about desert animals and ecology. I was especially interested in the geckos and other reptiles of the region. I did work experience in the veterinary department at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife which meant a lot of washing up, but I also got to look after a mongoose called Zak, and get up at dawn to take blood samples from a herd of Oryx.
Back in the UK I studied biology courses at the Open University and at Birkbeck, as well as Working part time. This also allowed me to spend lots of time volunteering in the heritage sector. I started off promoting modern art at Valentines Mansion, and sorting leaf litter samples for the Soil Biodiversity Group at the Natural History Museum. i also started a project recurating the NHM’s colection of Buthid Scorpions.
After a year I left the SBG and became a volunteer in the Vertebrate department helping a whole lota specimens and putting them away in the newly refurbished Zoo Store 1. Once this project was over , I assisted unpacking yet more fish for the Fish department, before becoming a mammal department volunteer, mostly topping up the spirit collection, but also finding papers on echidnas, and once cleaning and topping up platypus specimens that has been dissected by Sir Richard Owen. I also got to do a lot of labelling of rodent skulls, which really hones the concentration!
Last summer I was invited to flex my curatorial skills working on the ENHG’s arthropod collection, which needed cleaning, freezing and sorting to order level. It was a very succesful trip, I gave a talk to the group about why curation is important, and then we had a hands on demostration. This plus my work in the collection room, helpsecure funding to buy top quality modern cabinets for the collection.
Leeds isn’t quite as exotic as the UAE, but it is very nice to be here.