Current Committee Role:
Co-opted Member (archive support)
Hello, I’m Lil Stevens and I have joined the GCG committee as a co-opted member. I’m going to catalogue the group’s archives and help out where I can.
I work at the Natural History Museum in London as the Earth Sciences Collections Task Force Manager. This group was set up to provide curatorial assistance across the Earth and Life Sciences collections. I manage a (so far) small team of curatorial assistants, as well as the Loans and Exhibitions Coordinator. Doing this role has made me think a lot about what makes a good curator, especially because the role of a Task Force Assistant (TFA) is quite a difficult one. We need to be able to work in any Earth Sciences collection and know how to handle the specimens, how to structure and research the data, how and when to make decisions about the nature of the objects or documentation, what policies and procedures apply and to fit in with what the curators need us to do. Our TFAs come in at curatorial assistant level, so we’re expecting people with degrees and possibly postgraduate qualifications and asking for some experience in collections management, but the pay is pretty low. I think there is a lack of awareness in the sector as a whole about how much knowledge and experience is needed to do the most ‘basic’ curatorial jobs. A huge number of decisions are required just to take an object in to a museum and incorporate it in the collections. The representation of that object in a database is really only as good as the data it came with plus the quality of the curator who accessioned it.
You can read more about Lil's work on our blog.