The David Livingstone Birthplace Project is training a new generation of museum professionals thanks to an exciting initiative which is being coordinated by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) and funded by the National Lottery.
Lucy Brayson from Wishaw and Charlotte Roberts from Dennistoun have joined the David Livingstone Birthplace Project team as part of the Skills for Success programme which looks to address the lack of accessible entry routes into museum jobs for non-university graduates.
The pair are working on a number of ‘hands on’ community projects plus helping to catalogue the collection of over 3,000 objects while the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre is closed to the public as construction work progresses on the much-anticipated Birthplace Project to transform the landmark museum into a world-class visitor attraction.
Lucy Brayson explained: “I visited the David Livingstone Centre when I was younger, so I have always had an interest in him. However, this opportunity is now allowing me to build on the history knowledge I gained at university, by exploring many aspects of social history through Livingstone.
“While the nature of the Birthplace Project will allow me to gain experience of many areas of the museums sector, my main tasks will be to deliver a temporary exhibition when the museum opens; work with the wider team to catalogue the DLC’s collection; and contribute to the delivery of the main museum.
“Ultimately, I hope the range of skills and knowledge that I develop here will help me secure a job in the museums sector.”
Charlotte Roberts added: “I went to university to study History of Art with the intention of working towards a career in museums and galleries, but I saw this opportunity being advertised on Twitter and thought I might be better suited to this kind of practical experience.
“Like Lucy, I’m getting a lot of experience in different aspects of the museum, doing research and helping with the collection but I’m mainly working to develop learning resources for schools – at the moment, we’re working on a session that uses zine-making to track David Livingstone’s involvement in the abolition movement which is really exciting!”
The Skills For Success programme sees 20 learners take on entry level positions in Scotland’s museums and galleries, while a further two have been offered management positions. They will each receive a £15,000 bursary and will complete an SVQ level 3 qualification in Museums and Galleries Practice with the support of mentors, supervisors and assessors.
The placements were competitive, with 175 applicants from all over Scotland vying for just 22 positions. The innovative application process involved a video submission, followed by assessment days where candidates were scored on personal qualities such as teamwork, enthusiasm, and passion for the sector. Successful candidates range from school leavers to experienced professionals with backgrounds in hospitality, music, retail and more.
The trainees are based in museums spanning from the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney to Hawick Museum in the Borders, and well as major visitor attractions like the National Museum of Scotland and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. They will work alongside professionals in their host museum or gallery to learn a range of core museum skills including digitising collections, learning and engagement, and volunteer management.
Successful candidates range from school leavers to experienced professionals with backgrounds in hospitality, music, retail and more.
John McLeish, Interim CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said:
“The Skills for Success programme offers a flexible learning opportunity, a recognised qualification, and invaluable sector-based experience to our 22 exceptional learners. The programme represents an alternative route into the sector for those who have not attended university and is a key component of MGS’s commitment to diversifying Scotland’s museum workforce.
“I’d like to congratulate the successful candidates on their appointment to the Skills for Success programme and wish them the very best for the year ahead.”
Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:
“This is an exciting day as we see these trainees embark on a career path which has generally only been open to graduates. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, they will get to chance to develop a passion into a career making a huge difference to their own lives while playing an important role in the future of Scotland’s heritage treasures.”
Elena Trimarchi, Learning Manager, David Livingstone Trust, said:
“We are delighted to be participating in Skills for Success and to have the opportunity to host a two Learners to assist us in developing the David Livingstone Birthplace Project. We were very keen to participate in the programme which we hope will provide a new generation of museum professionals with important work experience in the sector.”
The David Livingstone Centre and its 11-hectare grounds are in the process of being transformed into a world-class visitor attraction as part of the £6.1 million Birthplace Project. The Station Road site in Blantyre includes the iconic Shuttle Row mill-workers’ tenement where David Livingstone was born and raised.
The project – which is expected to be complete by 2020 – will include the renewal of the historic buildings, a newly interpreted exhibition which will showcase artefacts from the Trust’s collection of 3000 objects, and an upgrade of visitor facilities such as the café and shop.
The Birthplace Project is jointly funded by The National Lottery through The Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.1m), the Scottish Government (£1.3m) and Historic Environment Scotland (£575,000). The main contractor is Clark Contracts Ltd.