Emma tells us about her role as Assistant Curator (Exhibitions) and what brought her to the University.

Tell us about your role at the University.

I work in Museums and Special Collections and alongside my colleagues I’m responsible for exhibitions in the Sir Duncan Rice Library Gallery, as well as other smaller displays around campus. The job is very varied – I see an exhibition through from its early stages to its completion, so I work on coming up with object lists, writing text, designing the physical space and layout, promoting the exhibition and physically installing it before it opens to the public (and then deinstalling it at the end!). It involves lots of collaboration – we often work with academics, students and other organisations on our exhibitions.

How do you usually start your day?

Before Covid, there was a bit more variety to how I started my day. During an exhibition install I might have started my day in the gallery, getting things ready to go for a new exhibition. Mostly, I start my day checking emails as there’s quite a lot of co-ordination and communication involved in curating exhibitions.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

I’m from London originally but did a Master’s in Edinburgh and fell in love with it. While being there, I also had a great experience working with a collection of rare books. Later, when I saw this job advertised in Aberdeen, I thought it sounded like a fantastic opportunity and I was keen to live in Scotland again. Working at a University was also appealing – I liked the idea of getting to learn about the exciting research going on and helping to showcase it through exhibitions. 

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

My favourite aspect of the job is learning about new things and then working out how the subject can be explained to and shared with an audience in an engaging way. I’ve got to learn more about Victorian visual illusions, Chilean textile art and nineteenth century naturalists in this job. It can be a challenge explaining complicated subject matter in concise and interesting ways, but it’s one I enjoy. 

What are your work priorities at the moment?

My main focus right now is preparing for deinstalling the latest gallery exhibition, which has been a bit more tricky than usual given the restrictions posed by Covid-19. Once that’s out of the way, I will be able to focus more on a new exhibition marking 100 years of the University’ Student Show, an online exhibition that will show off a lot of our archival collections and tell stories of the show, which is the longest running student theatre production of its kind in the UK. 

How do you like to relax outside work?

I like writing, mostly short stories, and I read a lot. I probably spend most of my free time watching films and then I listen to podcasts about films. This year, with not being able to travel, I started trying to watch a film from every country in the world. So far, I’ve watched a lot of Spanish language films to help improve my vocabulary before I (fingers crossed!) go to Mexico to visit my partner’s family next year.