From a Cantonese Opera prop to a Peruvian spear, Kaitlin Chamberlain’s workday is always interesting
Kaitlin Chamberlain, who is graduating from Fleming’s Museum Management and Curatorship program this year, does not have a boring workday.
“One moment I’m pulling a Cantonese Opera prop and the next I’m trying to find a home for a Peruvian spear. It’s always an adventure when I’m in there,” said Kaitlin, who works for the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Museum of Anthropology.
“I’m incredibly interested in the museum’s collection. Other collections I’ve worked with have focused on the region the museum is located in or on a specific medium, but the collection here is worldwide and I’m constantly amazed by what I find in storage,” she said.
As the Collections Assistant in the Collections Care, Management and Access Department, Kaitlin is responsible for organizing and facilitating visits to the collection and maintaining object storage. She installs and rehouses objects, creates mounts and performs inventories, and assists the Collections Manager, Loans Manager and Research Technician on their projects.
“A lot of the job responsibilities are things I was taught at Fleming and had a chance to actually do,” said Kaitlin. “When asked in the interview whether I had the experience, I was always able to answer with a quick example from my time at Fleming in addition to work experiences.”
Kaitlin said her Fleming applied learning in textile mounting came in handy this week, when the Collections department had to de-install the Layers of Influence exhibit, which is made up entirely of textiles. Kaitlin will be re-rolling the textiles and re-installing them into their home locations over the next few weeks, so she is grateful for the lesson and practical assignment she completed at Fleming.
Kaitlin came to Fleming College after earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Archaeology from Wilfrid Laurier University and working one summer at the City of Waterloo Museum.
“Aside from the Fleming program being highly recommended, I wanted to balance out my resume,” she said. “I had gotten a university degree where I learned about theory and the history of collections/museums, and I wanted to compliment it with hands-on experience.”
She said her experience in this Fleming College program was intense, fast-paced and rewarding, and that her faculty and peers were very supportive. She added that the work itself is also very rewarding and that she is already recommending Fleming’s Museum Management and Curatorship program to others.
“I would recommend it for the same reason I decided to take it, it gives you the hands-on experience within a museum setting,” she said. “The program’s partnership with the Peterborough Museum & Archives is brilliant.”
And to those currently in the program, Kaitlin’s advice is to apply to jobs regardless of the experience they want or location. “The process can be disheartening in the beginning because you feel like you’re sending resumes off into the void, but you never know what doors will open,” she said. “I certainly didn’t expect to hear back from a museum on the opposite side of the country.”