The British Museum's lottery-funded Museum Futures training programme offers paid digital skills traineeships to young people aged 18-24 with no previous museum experience. The placements are hosted by a range of museums across the UK.
Museums Journal has been speaking to the current cohort of trainees, who are just coming to the end of their placements, to learn more about their lockdown experiences and to find out how Covid is changing the way the sector thinks about digital. Jasmine "Jaz" Curzon is based at Derby Museums Trust.
What brought you to apply to be a Museum Futures trainee?
At the time I had just left college with an extended diploma in games design. The traineeship seemed really interesting but I wasn’t sure if I sure even apply as I didn’t think I would get it. My mom encouraged me. I was focused on graphic design and animation but mostly I am just interested in art.
Museums are a part of the art community and I want to experience as much forms of art so I went for it. I had always liked museums as a kid but never saw myself working at one because I never knew how people even got there.
What kind of work were you undertaking pre-Covid?
At the start of the traineeship I was doing a lot of practical work at Derby Museums, such as helping set up exhibitions and learning 3D scanning. I was also going on object walks in the galleries and illustrating objects.
What was the day-to-day impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on your traineeship?
My traineeship projects changed completely as before I was doing a lot of hands-on work with collections and in galleries and now all my work is done via computer. However, this is not all bad as it has given me a chance to explore the digital world of museums and learn how items are catalogued and I get to see the vast variety of objects we have that I’ve never seen before.
The pandemic has transformed how museums think about their digital offering. How has it changed your approach?
I think it’s made everyone appreciate digital more. Social media is now a necessity for marketing and interacting with the public, as opposed to an add-on. Derby Museums now exists outside of the building, with things like learning activities to do at home. Our audience has changed as now more people can experience exhibitions that might not have known the museum existed or ever visit the museum in Derby.
What do you think are the key digital skills that museums will need for the future?
Museums need a strong online presence, which takes media skills but also requires a community to get involved. We don’t just need to have a website, we need ways for people to engage and communicate with the museum. Derby Museums is a community space and that is what it should continue to be online.