Inclusive Heritage: Pathways to heritage careers
The heritage sector offers a huge range of opportunities to develop new skills and experiences – from event management and communications to demonstrating traditional skills and surveying habitats and species. Taking part in a heritage project is a great way to learn more about the sector – with some offering volunteer placements and training opportunities as well as jobs, including apprenticeships.
During Black History Month, we’re taking a look at heritage careers in projects that focus on diverse histories and communities and those that encourage cultural diversity in the heritage sector.
I recently visited the Glasgow-based Next Step Initiative (NSI), an African-focused charity working to build healthy, productive and sustainable African communities. The charity ran an HLF-supported project called Inspiring Inclusive Museum, to create greater opportunities for African communities in the Scottish museum sector.
I met with CEO Beltus Etchu Ojong and project trainee Adebimpe Ademosu to find out about their experiences of working on a heritage project.
Megan: Beltus, what advice would you give an organisation thinking about starting a project that focuses on diverse histories and communities?
Beltus: It is important to identify the interest of the community as the first starting point. Does your interest relate to a particular place, area, or focus on the culture and or history of your community? Once you know what the community interest is, you can begin to think on how to celebrate, protect and enhance that heritage.
Then visit other similar projects to learn more about how they went about planning, designing and delivering their heritage project, and pick up the phone and discuss your ideas with HLF staff. This will give you a better insight and confidence on how to go about your plan.
Megan: Adebimpe, you had a trainee placement on the Inspiring Inclusive Museum heritage project. What did you expect to find out during your placement?
Adebimpe: [I expected to find out about] integration. To be able to find a balance between my heritage and that of Scotland, to have a sense of belonging and knowledge about historical events of the past, to be confident about information that I can pass to people of my community now and in the future. Also I wanted to have opportunities that would allow me to learn about other people’s traditions and culture and for them to learn about mine too.
Megan: What would you say to a friend who wasn’t sure whether to get involved in a museum placement or a heritage project?
Adebimpe: It’s one of the best – and most interesting – projects to be involved in, it provides an opportunity to learn and to build transferable skills. It makes integration easy and it’s an opportunity to understand other cultures and to talk about yours, it helps to break barriers, build a sense of belonging, and be more open to others without feeling lost while one maintains one’s own identity.
Other heritage careers
There are a huge range of careers in the heritage sector; here we share a number of perspectives from people working across different roles.
Growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lila learned about Scottish explorer David Livingstone but never imagined that she would not only visit his birthplace, but actually work there. Lila also got involved with Glasgow-based NSI and you can discover more about her journey in our Changing Lives article.
Vanessa started off her career in heritage with a Skills for the Future placement at the London Transport Museum. She now works in a collections role at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Read about her thoughts on heritage careers in her blog.
Renée Mussai, Curator and Head of Archive
Renee is Curator and Head of Archive at Autograph ABP – a charitable arts agency specialising in contemporary and historical photography that explores questions of cultural identity, race, representation and human rights. She shared how much she’s been able to achieve with the help of HLF project funding.
Careers at HLF
Here at HLF, we encourage applications from a diverse range of people and backgrounds. We are an equal opportunities empoyer and an Investors in People-accredited organisation. Find out more about careers available at HLF.