Sophie Szynaka

Sophie studied sophie-szynakathe MA Art History and Curating from
September 2015 to September 2016. In March 2018 she joined the British Museum as Project Assistant.

"I chose the MA Art History and Curating at the University of Birmingham because it was one of the few MA courses in the country that offered the opportunity to co-curate a public exhibition, as well as the experience of working closely with staff at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in partnership with a prestigious national collection.

"Additionally, alongside the Barber exhibition and the course's theoretical modules, the MA also offered a work placement with a local museum, which is essential nowadays in order to get ahead in this competitive sector. 

"I co-curated the exhibition ‘All The World’s A Stage: Court, Patrons and Writers of Shakespeare’s Circle’. Working so closely with the Barber staff and in a small team enabled me to gain insight into the myriad of aspects that go into creating a successful exhibition, from marketing, public programming and learning activities to the curatorial research and logistical side of collection care and installation. Additionally, I had the chance to not only co-curate an outstanding small exhibition, but to be the group liaison between my fellow co-curators and the Barber staff. It was during my MA that I found that my favourite aspects of the many overlapping roles that go into an exhibition lay in liaising with different groups of people, working as part of a team to deliver a project as well as the logistical side managing art objects. This helped me focus my thinking towards a career in the logistics behind exhibitions in museums.

"My curatorial placement was at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, between March and June 2016. I researched and curated one of the three sections of ‘The Art of Drawing’ exhibition and I was involved in making the exhibition as engaging and accessible to as many people as possible from regular to first time visitors. I researched the gallery's online entries, collection database and object files in order to select and thoughtfully intersperse the artwork of local students with historical drawings from the Gallery's collection and create concise and clear interpretation around the history and techniques of drawing. As with the Barber, I was able to see this exhibition project through from conception to installation of the works as well as gain understanding in how a local authority museum operates compared to a University museum like the Barber. This role informed my future career choices by experiencing first hand the importance of museums' social impact and potential to inspire young and local people to encourage their knowledge, confidence and aspirations.

"I feel my MA in Art History and Curating helped prepare me for my future roles through both its theoretical teaching of the different types, histories and issues of exhibitions past, and the experiences that allowed me to put what I had studied into practice. 

"After graduating, I interned in the exhibition departments of the Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. Following that, I worked as Exhibitions Assistant at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (as part of the University of Birmingham’s Cultural Intern Scheme) before accepting my current position.

"As Project Assistant: National Programmes at The British Museum, I coordinate the logistics and loans administration behind the Museum’s regular programme of Spotlight loans and medium to large-scale exhibitions that tour across the UK. My MA fostered a love for and prepared me for my current work, which combines the aspects of exhibitions, from object care and logistics to liaising with different groups of people, as well as the excitement of contributing towards a positive social impact for these museums and their visitors."