Bridget Yates FMA

Case study
"Gives time to support and enable others outside direct management to generate new knowledge and insights, e.g. through training, mentoring, learning programmes."

Bridget Yates FMA, Monument Fellow, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

I was awarded my FMA in the 1980s under the old system of nomination and peer review; when the rules where changed to bring greater transparency and access, I felt that I should strive to meet the new requirements wherever possible and appropriate, especially in regard to support and enabling others to achieve in their own careers and enthusiasms.

In recent years I have been a trustee at the Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket and at the Farmland Museum in Cambridgeshire, and in 2011-12 I was fortunate enough to be a Monument Fellow at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse working with Megan Dennis, the curator, and a wide team of staff and volunteers. Indeed, I enjoyed this so much that I am still an occasional volunteer.

For the last three years, I have been teaching, with Nichola Johnson, former Director of the Sainsbury Centre, a six day course of seminars on Understanding Museums for SHARE Museums East. These seminars are targeted specifically at people working in museums in any capacity who have not gone through a postgraduate programme.

Participants have included front of house, interpreters, volunteers and trustees and in Spring 2013 we were particularly pleased to include an enthusiastic cohort of Norfolk Museums Teaching Museum trainees. A variant of this programme is being offered to a group of Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future trainees from Gressenhall and Stowmarket in the autumn.

I have long been an enthusiast of volunteer run museums, exemplified by my former role as a curatorial adviser/museum mentor, and for a number of years I offered seminars on working with volunteers.

My experience and knowledge in this area has been consolidated into a new AIM Success Guide Successfully Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers, co-authored with Julia Hill.

In 2011 I successfully completed a PhD on Volunteer Run Museums in English Market Towns and Villages and since then I have been able to give a number of conference papers which have, I hope, opened up museums to a wider audience, and increased understanding of an important part of the museum landscape.  

Working in museums must have been a good career choice for me as after 45 years in the trade I am still hugely enthusiastic about museums, the people who work in them, their collections and the transformative role that museums can play in people’s lives.