Neil Curtis FMA
Head of Museums and Special Collections, University of Aberdeen
Almost my entire working life (so far!) has been spent working with the museums in the University of Aberdeen. Given Aberdeen’s location, it would be easy to become disconnected to the wider sector, so I have had to put quite a bit of effort into being actively involved with professional organisations. This has included being the local organiser for the annual conferences of the Group for Education in Museums and the Museum Ethnographers Group, and joining committees such as the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel and University Museums in Scotland.
I have also tried to think about the wider implications of my work, which has been helped hugely by working in a university with access to tremendous library resources. I became particularly interested in museum ethics, and the changing social roles of museums and collections. The importance of trying to embed theoretical issues within practice, and vice versa, led me to being involved in establish a postgraduate programme in Museum Studies.
However, I felt that most of my work was still to focussed on my own work and my own place of employment. I was therefore attracted to the FMA because it provides a coherent structure for reflecting on how my work relates to the sector, and emphasises the importance of giving as well as taking. This was one of the most important reasons for applying to join the MA’s Ethics Committee and for becoming a mentor to a couple of local institutions and offering myself as an AMA mentor.
It has definitely made me feel much more engaged – when I go to the MA conference I now know that I will have friends to talk to! And that the experience of those working outwith the main centres is valuable and valued.