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Environmental Officer

We asked an Environmental Officer at National Museums Liverpool why and how they chose this as a career

photo of used insect traps

"Having specialised in mainly Art and Design subjects at A level, I left school with a love of enameling, and also a strong interest in photography.

Although my intention was to undertake a degree in photojournalism, prior to being allowed to enroll on a photography degree course, it was compulsory that prospective students undertook a one year foundation course in Art and Design. Whilst on this foundation course I had the opportunity to further explore and develop my love of enamelling, and at the same time gain experience of creating three dimensional objects from metal.

At the end of the course I decided to specialise in jewellery and silversmithing, and was accepted onto the Jewellery and Silversmithing course at the Birmingham School of Jewellery. During my course in Birmingham I spent an enormous amount of time in various museums looking at historical metalwork and jewellery as source inspiration for my designs, and during this time became more and more interested in historical artifacts.

Towards the end of my course at Birmingham, I spotted an advertisement for the Fine Metals Conservation course at West Dean, and, as I had all the pre-requisite practical skills needed to undertake the course, I applied to join it as it seemed as though a career in metals conservation would offer me the perfect opportunity to blend creative manual skills with caring for museum collections.

However, whilst at West Dean, it soon became apparent that a number of the items I conserved or restored could easily have avoided needing any work doing to them at all had slightly better care been taken of them. This realisation led me to find out more about the diverse and interesting work of preventive conservation, and when I finished my course at West Dean I contacted the National Trust, (who at the time were leading the field in preventive conservation), to see whether it would be possible to gain work experience with them, which I ended up doing for a year as a full time volunteer before taking up a paid position at Upton House in Oxfordshire.

Since starting my career with the National Trust, my work in preventive conservation has been varied and extensive, and has taken me to Wales where I worked for the Area Museum Council as a Conservation Advisor, and then to English Heritage as the Regional Conservator for the Northern Territories before eventually coming to Liverpool in late 2004, where I now work as the Environmental Officer in the Conservation Science Department."