Natural Resources and Industrial Design at the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
Sector: Hospitality and Tourism, Technology
Type: Career Profile
Business & Economics, English & Language Arts, History & World Studies, Social Sciences
I believe that it is important to preserve our technological past. Technology changes our lives so much. Think of how electricity or information technology has changed our society: They changed how we interact with each other; they change the environment in which we live. An office without lights would be very different, your work hours would be very different without artificial lighting. I truly believe that technologies have such an important place in our lives that we need to preserve inventions and innovations in order to understand that interaction between technology and society. I think that belief motivates my work.
I do want to pass on this information to the public. I’d like to facilitate that conversation in society. I don’t want to say that I want to educate people, because there are people who know more about education than I do, but as a Museum I think we have a role of facilitating conversation about technology and society.
I often say that my career path is not very typical, but I was on a panel last year in Manchester with other curators of science and technology museums from Europe and we all started by saying that exact sentence, so maybe it is typical in that sense. I came to Canada with a degree in literature, not very useful in another country with another language, believe me. I got another degree in library science and I started to work at the library at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and from there I moved to the Canada Science and Technology Museum. While in the library, I decided I was more interested in curatorial work so I went back to university and got my Masters degree in history of science and technology. I then moved to work as an assistant curator for about eight years and then became a curator.
Identify what it is you want to do and then go for it. Don’t wait for the position to open for you, don’t wait for a job posting. Talk to people, make sure people in your dream job know this is where you want to work. Networking is important. I would add that for a position in a national museum, you have to be bilingual.
I like hiking, climbing, running and travelling. I do quite a bit of travelling around the world; my goal is to go to every continent. I’ve been to Europe and North America so far, so I still have a few to go.
As a curator at a national museum, I build a national collection in science and technology that depicts the transformation of Canadian society. I also work to increase scientific and technological literacy, to engage the public to explore how technology has changed Canadian society, and how Canadian society changed technology.
What I do at work varies, sometimes I do research: I read a lot to learn about new technologies, I try to understand how technologies work, how they are impacted by people that use them and how their designs came about. Other times I focus on collecting. When I collect technologies I am in the field: I could be in a camp in Northern Alberta or I could be in somebody’s basement looking through what they have; it all depends on where the artefacts are. I often need to go see artefacts to assess if they are significant to Canada’s history and to prepare the case for why we should acquire them for the collection. I then arrange to bring them to the Museum.
When I work on exhibitions, I work as part of a team. This team chooses the objects and messages of the exhibition and develops the interactive experiences (such as computer screens, educational games for children, etc.) we want to include. When the artifact selection is complete and the interactives are designed, the team will test the concept with Museum visitors. Finally, the exhibition is fabricated. This work is very hands-on and creative. I also belong to various networks. I stay in touch with people in industries because I need to understand how they work. For example I might work with a mining association to understand where they are coming from and the significance of mining to Canada. I collaborate with all kinds of partners, associations, groups and technical experts.
I was born/grew up in: Kraków, Poland
I now live in: Ottawa, Ontario
I completed my training/education at: My first degree was in literary studies and linguistics, much more connected to language than technology. I left Poland in 1989 when Communism was falling, came to Canada and then got a degree in History of Technology at the University of Ottawa.
When I was
- Foreign languages
- Industrial Arts
- Literature and English
- Other: Interpreting to the public
- Other: Communications
- Brought people together
- Always wanted to be outside
- Liked helping people
- Enjoyed working with my hands
- Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
- Liked reading
- Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
- Was really creative
- Didn't really care about grades
- Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
- Learned best by doing
- Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
- Liked to design or build things