Whitechapel Gallery received 600 applications for six placements

Traineeship initiative is 300 times oversubscribed

Patrick Steel, Issue 112/04, p5, 01.04.2012
British Museum scheme attracts 1,500 applicants
A programme offering five traineeships at the British Museum (BM) has received 1,533 applications.

The scheme, which is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future initiative,  offers successful applicants a six-month placement at the BM and 18 months at one of five partner museums, gaining hands-on work experience and an accredited diploma in curatorship.

Maria Bojanowska, who coordinates the scheme at the museum, said that she shortlisted 60 applicants who had a track record in volunteering and had showed an aptitude for a curatorial career, for the five traineeships.

She added that most applicants were graduates, while many had a master’s. Other Skills for the Future schemes have also been oversubscribed, with 1,300 applications for 20 placements at the Museums Galleries Scotland interns programme; 700 applications for five placements on another BM programme called Train the Curator; 644 applications for 10 placements on Tate’s Museum and its Future programme; 252 applications for 12 placements on the Northern Ireland Museum Council’s Collection Skills Initiative; and 600 applications for six placements at Whitechapel Gallery.

Victoria McGuinness, project manager at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, said she received 200 applications for four places on the Keeping Heritage Alive scheme last year.

“When fewer jobs are available, this is something to help ensure the skillset remains,” she added.


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02.04.2012, 12:05
I applaud every and any institution which creates opportunities to work in museums but I can't help wondering how many of the people applying for these schemes will ever find permanent work in museums. The lucky few may get a foot on the ladder (and I genuinely wish them all well) but there are many young people spending good money on getting museum/heritage related qualifications at a time when opportunities for a 'real' job are getting fewer and fewer. Are course directors honest with prospective students about the number of jobs available? We've all seen the stats saying so many graduates were working within 6 months of qualifying and we all know that some of those people were in work unrelated to the course or jobs they could have got without the qualification. As an employer it is great for me to have a wide field of qualified people to choose from but as an individual lucky enough to have made a career in museums, it saddens me to see people being given false hope. Perhaps I'm wrong and students go down this expensive route with their eyes fully open.
To those starting placements I say good luck, well done for getting this far and I hope you have a wonderful career. To those who didn't get a place, I say don't be too hard on yourself. The odds were against you.