Ollie Fearon, the 2012-13 recipient of the Yorkshire Museum Scholarship, found his experience at the Yorkshire Museum honed his transferable skills and gave him privileged access to a wealth of resources. As he explained to Maria-Anna Aristova in 2013, his placement gave him a taste of how exciting curatorial life can be, which cemented his career plans.
What has been your highlight so far?
"Being able to make a contribution to the museum's new medieval exhibition, 'Capital of the North', has certainly been the most enjoyable, and most rewarding, aspect of the studentship. My work was implemented to provide information to the viewer about the objects on display, taking the form of labels and 'Digging Deeper' information boards."
What are you currently working on?
"After contributing research to the new 'Capital of the North' exhibition, I'm currently using my time at the Museum to work on my Masters dissertation, which looks at an enigmatic set of alabaster panels that were discovered in York in 1957. The panels are acclaimed members of the museum's collections yet next to nothing has been written about them; so, naturally, I gravitated towards the project! The Yorkshire Museum is a uniquely advantageous place for my research, with extensive bibliographic resources in the Museum's library and my subject matter a stone's throw away from my desk. The wealth of primary and secondary material housed in the Museum has been exceptionally helpful."
What experiences would you say have been most useful or unexpected?
"I have a tendency to be a bit over-ambitious when planning my work so the necessity of learning to narrow my research interests, when faced with such a splendid array of potential dissertation topics, has been an extremely helpful lesson."
How does the museum make use of you?
"Besides using my time at the Museum to research my dissertation, I have also gained useful curatorial experience by completing other tasks. For example, I have catalogued the Museum's collections onto their electronic database (AdLib) and in the process gained useful archival skills."
What do you value most about your experience with the institution?
"The unmitigated access I've been granted to collections has been one of the most valuable aspects of the studentship. All too often, when visiting galleries and other historical sites, the art is unhelpfully distanced from the viewer. However, there is a real hands-on approach taken with this studentship that makes it such an invaluable opportunity."
How has your work at the Yorkshire Museum enhanced your studies at York?
"Not only does my work at the Museum provide a period of respite from my weekly studies but when I am working on my dissertation, there is nowhere better-equipped than the Museum's library and storehouse. The wealth of primary and secondary material housed in the Museum has been exceptionally helpful."
Do you feel it has been helpful with career planning or improved your job prospects, and if yes, how?
"My work at the Museum has certainly provided me with the relevant transferable skills for a career in museum and curatorial fields. My involvement with the Museum's exhibitions has given a really helpful indication of how exciting curatorial life can be."
Would you recommend it to future students?
"Most certainly. The studentship is a unique scholarship for budding medievalists. Besides the fee-waiver awarded to the student, the placement grants the opportunity to work with world-famous medieval artefacts. It is an excellent opportunity to study the collections as the student is permitted full access to the wealth of documentary material housed on-site."
"After finishing my postgraduate degree, I decided to take a one-year break from education to improve my language skills. I am currently attending a German course in Berlin, which will assist me in my plans for PhD study from October 2014. By researching my postgraduate dissertation in partnership with the Museum, I gained an insight into the resourcefulness of Museums as sources of information and inspiration for art historians. With hindsight, the Yorkshire Museum Studentship provided me with many skills and experiences that were useful not only to my studies but to my overall career outlook. Considering today’s depleting budget for the Arts in England, it is certainly reassuring to know that I have acquired transferable skills from my Studentship that could be applied both in academia and curatorial roles."