Scheme offers ‘valuable’ training in heritage sector

Curator at Mid-Antrim Museums Service Jayne Clarke (left) and trainee Beth Frazer.  INCT 20-730-CON
Curator at Mid-Antrim Museums Service Jayne Clarke (left) and trainee Beth Frazer. INCT 20-730-CON

A Greenisland woman is to receive hands-on experience during a new training scheme at the Braid Museum and Arts Centre in Ballymena.

The Northern Ireland Museums Council launched the pioneering training programme to provide ten people with the skills and experience to help them build careers in the museum and heritage sector.

Playing a pivotal role in the delivery of the initiative is the Mid-Antrim Museums Service, which was selected to host one of the trainees.

Beth Frazer is to spend the next year and a half learning more about various aspects of museum work at the Ballymena site.

Beth, who holds a level three vocational qualification in Museums, Culture and Heritage, previously worked at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. “I‘m very pleased to have gained a placement on this innovative scheme,” she said. “There was stiff competition; many people apply for the scheme as it is such a rare and sought after opportunity in the museums sector.

“I started on April 4 and each week I attend a training session provided by the Northern Ireland Museums Council and National Museums. The rest of the week I am working on my placement around the Mid Antrim Museums and gaining skills and on the job learning.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to gain experience not just at the Braid but also at the Larne, Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus sites.”

The Community Engagement Initiative has been developed in partnership with National Museums Northern Ireland and has received funding of £354,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

By the end of the programme, the ten trainees will have had the opportunity to gain specialist skills and practical, work-based experience in engaging communities with museum collections.

Jayne Clarke, Curator at Mid Antrim Museums Service, will be coaching Beth throughout her placement.

“In hosting this placement, MAMS is demonstrating their commitment to training enthusiastic people committed to pursuing a career in the museum sector,” Jayne said. “Beth will be assisting us with an important project targeting new audiences from rural village community groups and youth groups aged 18-25 years.

“Ways of Seeing will utilise relevant works from the art collections held within MAMS museums as a catalyst to inspire communities across MAMS Partner Councils and to inform a sense of place in order to foster and encourage positive engagement with their built environment, especially in relation to the built heritage. The project will culminate in a MAMS travelling exhibition in 2016.”

Jayne added: “As well as gaining experience and access to our unique and diverse collections, Beth will have the opportunity to work with her local community to find ways of placing them at the heart of the museum and I look forward to working with her on this project.”