Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation
Sector: Hospitality and Tourism
Type: Career Profile
History & World Studies, Science
When I was in school I was trying to figure out, like every high school student, what I was going to do with my life and where I was going to study. I didn’t want to be a desk jockey, but I also didn’t want to be doing grunt work without a sense of accomplishment or a sense of what the big picture was. Museum studies was a good choice for me because there is a technical research aspect to the job but there is also a good amount of physical work. Sitting down all day long and typing at a computer is not for me. My job lets me be on my feet and do hands on things without being a work drone.
My work offers many challenges that keep me motivated. For example, sometimes I have to take something apart because it will not fit in the shipping box or in the back of a truck. In this case, I need to have a thorough understanding of the object in order not to damage it, a good knowledge of tools and power tools and the dexterity necessary to execute tasks at hand.
I graduated from the Applied Museum Studies program at Algonquin College. I did all my placements and student internships at the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation and was lucky enough to find myself employed here afterwards.
There is not a high demand for people in my line of work since they’re not opening new museums on every street corner, so I was very fortunate to find a job in my field doing something I really like.
I’d say the best advice I can give to someone seeking a similar career is not to give up. There is not a big hiring rate in artifact handling but people are still finding work. There might not be the exact job you want available today, or tomorrow or maybe the day after but sooner or later, something will open up. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. It’s important to have a variety of skills under your belt so being open minded in terms of the training and experiences you are offered will give you an advantage over others.
Placements and internships can really help get your foot in the door of the organisation you want to work for. Accepting entry level positions is also a great way to do this. Let people around you know what job you are interested in doing, do a great job in the position you currently have and eventually you may be able to apply to your dream job.
I am a father of two children, a two-year-old and a four-year-old. When I go home, I have fun taking care of the kids
As an Artifact Handler (sometimes known as Collections Technician) I’m responsible for all things relating to the artifacts in the collection. This collection of artifacts belongs to the three Museums that comprise our Corporation: The Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. My tasks at work revolve around “the collection”, which refers to all the objects that the Museums keep in order to preserve the Canadian history of science and technology. I am responsible for the storage and transportation of the artifacts (which is what we call objects that are officially part of the collection). For example, I am sometimes asked to pick up artifacts from the people who are donating them. If I can’t pick them up because they come from too far away or are too big for our trucks, I work with the shipping companies that get them here.
I often work closely with the Museums’ curators who research and make the decision of acquiring an artifact in the collection and with the cataloguers who make a record of the artifact in our database after it’s acquired.
If an artifact has to be moved for research purposes, because it is going on display in an exhibition or because we are loaning it out, I am involved every step of the way.
Sometimes, we receive a very large group of objects and not all of them make it into the collection. For those that don’t make it, we contact the original donors to see if they want them back, we contact other museums to see if they want the objects and basically work really hard to find a good home for everything we get.
I was born/grew up in: Ottawa, Ontario
I now live in: Ottawa, Ontario
I completed my training/education at: I studied at Algonquin College in applied museum studies.
When I was
- Computer Science
- Foods and Nutrition
- Industrial Arts/Shop Programs
- Literature and English language arts
- Enjoyed doing things on my own
- Enjoyed working with my hands
- Was motivated by success
- Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
- Liked reading
- Played video games
- Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
- Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
- Learned best by doing
- Liked to take things apart to see how they worked