Conservation graduate Maia Balint takes Fleming College skills to Oxford

maia-at-oxford-blogThe skills Maia Balint gained at Fleming College are not only useful in Canada, they are useful around the world!

The Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program provides opportunities for students to take their studies to other countries, where they can gain internship experience in interesting locales. Maia completed her full-time Fleming internship at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, Devon, UK, and made connections that led to her current employment at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.

“I learned about this opportunity due to the connections I made during my Fleming internship,” said Maia, who works as an Osney Power Station (OPS) Move Project Assistant. “The experiences that I gained while studying at Fleming were directly relevant to the job description and prepared me for the interview.”

In her contract role at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Maia works with artefacts every day. “A lot of the artefacts are really amazing and beautiful,” said the Class of 2018 graduate. “My favourites include pocket microscopes and homeopathic medicine kits full of tiny jars substances— many of which are poisons!”

Maia is responsible for assessing and packing artifacts, and said Fleming prepared her well for the role, including how to complete documentation for object assessment and general handling techniques. Maia also references the information she gained from the two-day packing workshop led by Paul Marcon from the Canadian Conservation Institute.

maiabalintatworkMaia wanted to move to Oxford because her partner is doing his PhD there. She describes Oxford as very pretty and adds that being affiliated with the university makes a big difference because the most beautiful parts are only accessible to university staff and students.

But this isn’t Maia’s first time living in the UK. After graduating from the University of Toronto, where she studied history, Maia took bookbinding courses in the UK and did an internship at the Design Museum in London. Her interest in bookbinding, which also includes courses at the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild and an internship at the Robertson Davies Library in Toronto, is what led her to pursue a career in conservation.

“Most practicing bookbinders also do conservation work,” Maia explained. “I wanted to learn more about the various materials that are used in bookbinding and I was attracted to Fleming’s emphasis on hands-on skills.”

The Fleming College graduate said she would recommend her program to others. “I think the Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program provides a great introduction into the conservation of a wide range of materials,” she said. “It gives students a wide variety of practical experience, which reflects the type of work that goes on in museums.”