Craig Middleton is Curator of Democracy at History SA. He has recently moved into this position from a two year stint as Public Programs Officer, working with the Community Programs team presenting a range of programs, including History Festival events, community engagement activities and school holiday programs at the Migration Museum.
Craig has always been interested in history, politics and culture, which all lend themselves to this sort of work.
I suppose for me one of the main drivers to pursue a career in museums was the time I spent living in Rome. Before I left SA for the first time alone I was studying an arts and language degree at the University of Adelaide and had no idea what I was going to do with it. In 2010 I moved to Rome for 7 months and it was there I was thrown into a vibrant and unique culture, so different from my own.
How can you not fall in love with history when living in a city like Rome?
It was this experience that helped Craig direct the next stage of his life, and career. When he returned to Australia he enrolled in a Masters degree in Museum Studies at Macquarie University and then followed it up with an Art History Degree from the University of Adelaide.
I was determined to build a career in this industry.
That determination has clearly paid off as Craig brings his passion and commitment to his work at History SA.
Pathway to History SA
A few months into Craig’s Masters degree a casual job was advertised for a Museum Officer at the National Motor Museum.
I jumped at the chance. Although I knew next to nothing about cars I had a passion for the industry and I was willing to learn. I have so many great memories working there.
Alongside his new job at the National Motor Museum Craig interned and volunteered at many institutions including the SA Museum and the Army Museum of SA. He spent two years at the Art Gallery of South Australia as a volunteer working alongside Tracey Lock and Elle Freak in the Australian Art department.
This was such a valuable experience and an important part of my career journey.
During my time at History SA I received the opportunity to apply for the job of Public Programs Officer for the Community Engagement Team and I was successful.
Volunteering really did pay off!
Working in Community Engagement
Craig describes his past role within the Community Engagement Team as to provide opportunities for people to participate in the life of the Migration Museum and History SA’s public facing events and programs including the History Festival.
I was working with many communities, groups and individuals to develop programs, workshops and events that provided opportunities to explore many aspects of South Australia’s history and culture.
I believe an important element to that type of work is building relationships with the people and groups whose stories are told, or yet to be told, in our museums. It is about making the spaces, collections and programs open to public ownership, allowing people to feel that the museums History SA manages are their museums, everybody’s museums.
This inclusive ethos is reflected in the range of programs Craig facilitated, from children’s holiday activities to ‘Bar Yarns’ talks.
Craig’s new position as Curator is an exciting move for him.
As Curator I have been researching South Australian political history and democracy. What is fabulous about this opportunity is the ability for me to pursue my research interests in a professional capacity. My Master’s thesis focused on the value of Australia political ephemera collections to Australia’s heritage and identity.
With such a diverse range of activities in his daily work Craig has a lot to keep him busy.
A proud moment at History SA is when a visitor comes up to me at any one of the many community programs we host across the organisation and says thank you. They say thank you for the opportunity to have met people they otherwise wouldn’t have, to have learnt about something they knew little about, to have engaged further with something they did know about, or to have broken down unknown perceptions they may have had. When I get these comments from visitors I know the museums are heading in the right direction. I am a big believer in social justice in museums.
Getting to know Craig
Craig is an identical Twin:
Some of my colleagues know this and others may not. To the ones that don’t I say that if you ever see me outside of the office and I pretend not to know you … it’s probably not me you are looking at. Don’t take offense!
Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and experience Craig.