Rachel Mackay AMA

Senior visitor engagement manager, Natural History Museum
I’ve been at the museum since 2009 but I’ve worked in visitor attractions of one form or another since I was 16, from medieval castles to tour buses, from science centres to waxworks. 

I undertook the AMA because I wanted to learn more about the museum sector, not just in other organisations but also outside my comfort zone of visitor operations.

In my job there often isn’t much time to spend with the collections or in interpretation, but if you plan to build a career in museums, it’s really important to understand the whole picture.

And it worked both ways. I didn’t often meet people at museum networking events who worked in visitor operations, and I wanted to show that my side of things was as valid and important a museum profession as any other. Doing my AMA allowed me to bring the front-of-house perspective to discussions and events where it would have otherwise been absent, and that was a really important aspect for me.

Doing the AMA, I took part in some events and activities that I would never have got to do otherwise, for example presenting at the MA conference and spending the day shadowing in the British Museum collections.

I’ve made some great contacts and picked up some ideas from other organisations that have allowed me to make positive changes in my own museum.

I have been promoted whilst doing my AMA – whether this was all down to my continuing professional development, I’ll never be sure, but I do believe doing my AMA allowed my managers to see that I was serious about making my way in the museum world, as well as capable of increasing my awareness of and contact with the wider sector.  

I would recommend doing the AMA to anyone who wants to immerse themselves more fully in the museum sector, as well as understand themselves and their own development a little better.

Like most things, I suspect you get out what you put in, but if you utilise the tools and expertise available to you, it can be a really valuable experience that benefits not only you but your organisation.