A Day In the Life Blog: Stephanie Clemens, Museum Development Officer
Welcome to our blog series, ‘A Day in the Life…’ which features a member of the CMP team and what they get up to on a typical day at work.
Next up is Stephanie Clemens, Museum Development Officer. Read on for more about how Steph spends her time at Cornwall Museums Partnership.
Having started my role in July last year, one of my favorite parts of my job so far has been getting to know all of the museums in Cornwall. Ordinarily, I’d have been able to go out and visit them, get a feel for each place and have a cuppa and a good chat. Instead, I host fortnightly coffee mornings remotely via Zoom, which have been lovely for connecting with people informally, hearing what’s going well and what people need support with. I’m also invited to Mid Cornwall Museums Group and SE Cornwall Museums Forum. Networks like these are a great way for me to get involved, but also enable a really strong sense of community and peer support between museums and heritage organizations..
My role as Museum Development Officer is to support museums in Cornwall with professional museum advice. Sometimes, I can give this myself, other times it’s a case of signposting to the right resource. This means a large part of my day is spent answering enquiries, usually by email. I receive questions about all kinds of museum practice, ranging from fundraising for specific projects and requests for examples of policy documents to ideas for collaborations and even advice on pest control. I’m part of the national Museum Development Network, which is managed regionally by SW Museum Development – this means I have access to a huge support network who will help me get the answers I need for museums. I’m also very fortunate to be able to tap into the wealth of experience within the CMP team!
As MDO, I support museums with maintaining or gaining their status as Accredited Museums. This is a scheme run by Arts Council England to provide a set of standards for museum to attain. I may work with a museum to put in place action plans based on previous recommendations for improvement or review their next reapplication. Accreditation needs to be reviewed every 5 years, and there are 32 Accredited Museums in Cornwall – so there are always several reapplications on the go!
On most days, I’ll also be doing some more in-depth work with a museum or on a specific project. This could be around researching new interpretation, collecting oral histories, digitising photographs and slides or developing a digital strategy – anything at all that museums are currently working on and need some extra support with.
In between my support role, I find some time to work on some other pieces of work. It’s my joy and privilege to coordinate the Cornwall Heritage Awards. It’s a great event but it demands a lot of planning time, and that can be difficult when I see emails constantly popping into my inbox! To be honest, though, having too many enjoyable things to do and getting to work with so many lovely people isn’t much of a problem. It’s why I love my job – I just wish there were a few more hours in the day and that I could get out for tea and biscuits!
Joining CMP during the pandemic has been strange but also wonderful. Everyone in the museum community has been welcoming and very understanding that building our relationships via Zoom and phone is a little bit more challenging, but by no means impossible. Similarly, getting to know the team has been made easier by the fact that everyone acknowledges the challenge of introducing a new member of staff while working remotely and we share new ideas for how to make that easier. Our weekly lunchtime Fun Palace crafting session on Zoom is a lifesaver – it’s so nice to concentrate on something and let chat happen naturally. I do try to work a bit of cross stitch into most working days now (see below)!
– Stephanie Clemens, Museum Development Officer
Steph works Mondays to Fridays and can be contacted via email at email@example.com