How to Tell if a Career in Cultural Heritage is Right For You
Sponsored by Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore
If you’re hankering after a graduate job surrounded by culture and history but don’t know your Caravaggio from your Correggio, don’t panic. There are a whole range of jobs in the cultural heritage sector that don’t specifically involve curating a museum collection or identifying historical artefacts. Most museums and art galleries tend to hire graduates with a broad range of specialist skills and experience that extend far beyond conservation and curation. We spoke to the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore, who are now running a new executive master’s in cultural heritage with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, to help you decide whether a swanky museum job could be right for you.
You’re a museum nerd
At the risk of sounding trite, the best tell-tale sign that a career in cultural heritage is right for you is if you can’t envisage a career in any other sector and feel happy at the mere thought of rubbing shoulders with centuries of culture every day for the rest of your working life. Are you a lover of art, history or archeology? Whatever it is you’re interested in, you need to be passionate about it and carry that enthusiasm into your daily work.
You’re a creative entrepreneur
Museums aren’t the dust-filled rooms of old books and skeletons that they used to be. Working in the cultural heritage sector could see you joining one of a new generation of museums which are using cutting-edge technology to improve visitor experience and produce new exhibits. Last year, for example, the Norwegian National Museum created an algorithm designed to interpret and map their collections, which allowed them to highlight unexpected connections between items. The Norwegian National Museum aren’t the only ones dabbling in artificial intelligence. The Musée du quai Branly in Paris recently got an AI art critic to judge one of its exhibits which explored how the “inanimate becomes animate” through its relationship with people.
To prepare for the future and attract funding, many museums and galleries are now behaving like startups, seeking to collaborate with businesses, NGOs, communities and young people. To join the museum industry today, you need the left and right sides of your brain: creativity as well as management. Do you think you’ve got what it takes?
You have a varied background you can draw upon for experience
Unless you’re working as an art educator, you probably won’t need a great deal of obscure knowledge of art history in your day job. In fact, whichever field you come from, whether it’s social media, fundraising or even virtual reality, your seemingly-unrelated specialist knowledge could prove prodigiously useful to a museum or an art gallery, especially if you have the drive and creativity to see your project through. One of the most exciting ways into the museum industry nowadays is by finding a new technology-assisted way of rendering cultural heritage more palatable and accessible to the ordinary person, while improving visitor experience at the same time. Museums usually welcome interdisciplinary collaboration and are always looking for exciting ways to breathe new life into old artefacts and vestiges and to improve their connection to local communities.
You’re thinking of doing a master’s in cultural heritage in Florence…
The Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore just teamed up to offer an executive master’s in cultural heritage, creativity, innovation and management, a one-year program specifically designed to train you in a number of careers in the creative industries and tourism.
Fully taught in English, the course imparts students with a critical understanding of cultural heritage development and promotion abroad, place branding, conservation, entrepreneurship and the skills needed to work in the sector for business. You will learn how to appraise, conserve and promote a country’s cultural heritage internationally and locally.
This article was originally published in September 2017 . It was last updated in September 2021