MA Museum Studies - Supriya Menon
Years at UEA
Supriya Menon currently works as a Senior Consultant for the Batul Raaj Mehta Associates, a museum and cultural consultancy firm in India.
She graduated in 2013 from the MA Museum Studies (an older variant of the MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies course). Here, she discusses her experience as an international student at UEA, and her time as a Curatorial Fellow for the Sainsbury Centre on the UEA campus.
What is your current career?
I am a Senior Consultant at a museum planning consultancy based in Mumbai. We advise private and government clients on creating museums or adapting existing museums.
Within the firm I have a variety of different roles, and my main strength is interpretive planning, so thinking about what narrative the museum wants to communicate to its visitors. I also sometimes work on looking at buildings from an architectural viewpoint to see whether they would function as museums. It’s always really exciting to go into a museum and see everything going up in places where visitors can go and interact with it. It’s great to see when something is as successful as you envisioned it.
What drew you to this course at UEA?
I already had a Master's degree in South Asian Studies in London before I came to UEA, and I had been volunteering with the Victoria & Albert museum for a year or so.
But I realised that if I wanted to progress in the museum and culture world then I would need a degree that equipped me with a general knowledge of the field. I actually completed the MA Museum Studies course, which is slightly different to the current MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies course, but what drew me to UEA was the opportunity that was available at that time to apply for the Museum Studies Fellowship.
I was accepted onto the fellowship, and this meant completing a year-long placement at the Sainsbury Centre on campus. It was great to be in a museum situation and studying alongside it, and I worked on a lot of different aspects of curation and organising upcoming exhibitions. The campus itself was lovely too, with lots of open space and Modernist buildings, and I loved Norwich as a city.
What was your experience as an international student at UEA?
Everyone was really welcoming!
The process of sorting out the visa can be daunting, but it was very smooth and it was all handled on campus. And a lot of the staff are British, but you find PhD students from all over the world, and it felt very inclusive, especially within the Arts department.
What skills did you develop on this course that have aided you in your current career?
It was important to learn about teamwork within the museum setting, and to learn about how to balance your own ego alongside that of everyone else.
I also felt that I developed in terms of diligence and accuracy, but as well as that it was important to learn that you do not necessarily have to be a subject specialist to be able to work in a specific sector. I did not know much about British art before I began, but I was able to learn about it during the process.
How would you describe your experience of the teaching on this course?
We had very small class sizes, about 8 people, which was different to what I had experienced before, and all the teachers were very approachable.
All the guest lecturers were people from this sector, so they were people who had gotten their hands dirty and knew what they were talking about. The professors were always drawing our attention to the realities of working within the museum sector rather than having a solely theoretical approach.
This course was entirely based on coursework, with a dissertation at the end, and teachers were always willing to discuss the direction that you wanted to take your essays in. The library was amazing and really helpful for getting resources; my dissertation focus was on South Asia, and I was able to find a lot of information right here at UEA.
What advice would you give to students who are considering studying the MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies course at UEA?
UEA was a great place to come to, especially if you want to focus on Asia, Africa, or Latin America, because the collections and resources that are available are not just focused on European studies.
It’s important that students can know whether they can learn skills at UEA to get jobs in the arts sector, whether you are going to work in another country or here in Britain. I think as an institution UEA is brilliant, and it should be at the top of everyone’s list when they are shortlisting universities.