Interview with Rose Hughes
Rose Hughes, Learning Officer at the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising, is our first interviewee of the year. In this lively post she tells us about her love of illustration and her road into the museum sector.
Describe your career path
Growing up in Lincoln, I spent my weekends painting portraits at street fairs and working in a craft shop. I had a great four years studying Illustration and Animation at Loughborough University. On the course, I started making trails for the tiny (and brilliant) Charnwood Museum and wrote my dissertation on interactive participation at MShed Bristol. After spending the summer temping in London museums from the V&A to the Southbank Centre, I realised I was hooked!
The museums sector has seen me dressed as a medieval peasant, teaching mythical creature sock puppetry as a mad scientist and interviewing local people about lost swimming pools. My MA in Museum Studies at the University of East Anglia and 12 month Access and Communication Internship at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts was hectic – and a lot of fun! After graduating, I started as Learning Officer in the Museum of Brands and am enjoying working with such a wide range of people, from quite frighteningly enterprising primary school children to wonderful storytelling retirees.
What have the next 12 months got in store for you
I’ve been at the Museum of Brands for 4 months – I imagine the next year has in store plenty more branding showdowns, chocolate bar inventing, object handling and consumer collaging. Hopefully I’ll hear lots more stories about re-remembered 60s sweet wrappers and long-forgotten Smash Martians!
I’m really excited for this spring – the Museum will be focusing on Gender in Advertising, and idealised women and men as reflected in 250 years of consumer culture. I’m looking forward to hearing visitor responses and identifying brands trying to gauge these changing attitudes.
What Museum (other than the one you might work for) would you like to be locked in overnight
The House of Illustration. I’d spend hours pouring over Quentin Blake’s archive and get all teary over his maternity hospital wall drawings. I also loved a recent trip to the Roald Dahl Museum – full of dream jars, Bruce’s chocolate cake and scribbly first drafts. Either please!
What’s the most encouraging thing a visitor/user has ever said to you
A five year old boy screaming ‘this is the best day ever!’ in the middle of a chocolate inventing workshop – it made my week!
If you could highlight one Museum Object, either in your own museum or elsewhere, what would it be
My favourite Museum of Brands object is a 1950s pamphlet advertising Roland Emmett’s train station, commissioned for the Festival of Britain. I love his whimsical and curious illustrations – even more so for the fact they were brought to life! I saw his mechanical trains, machines and inventions in action at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2014 and haven’t managed to get them out my head since.
What would you have been if you hadn’t been a Museum Learning Officer?
If I wasn’t a museum educator I would have been a puppeteer, I find them scary and wonderful at the same time.