Madeline DeFilippis is a first-year student at the University studying Modern History and French. She came to MUSA in the second semester of this year looking to learn more about the museum and its outreach. Here she reflects on her time at MUSA and explains why it is such a rewarding experience.
The fact that a university in a town as small as ours has a museum dedicated to its history and students is a testament to its success throughout history. Staffed with dedicated and experienced professionals, from the Front of House staff, to Learning and Outreach, to Collections, MUSA is always bustling and readying itself for its next event.
Although I am a self-professed lover of museums, I can understand why people dislike trudging through room after room, staring intently at a bunch of old stuff that they neither understand nor have any interest in. Many museums lack interactive exhibits, and it can be very hard to hold a visitor’s attention; MUSA elects to confront that. In every one of our four exhibits, there are interactive activities, which invite visitors of all ages to engage with the history of St Andrews. Visitors can use scientific instruments, view and take part in some of the traditions of the University, and, in our newest exhibit, Victorian Visions, see what life was like in St Andrews in the Victorian era!
If you’re not particularly interested in the many artefacts MUSA has on view, there are instead events which the museum puts on to invite students, staff, and residents of St Andrews to learn about the museum. Just pick up a ‘What’s On’ guide and you can see for yourself! From film screenings, to musical concerts, to who-done-its, and (alcohol accompanied) lectures, MUSA has a plethora of activities; one of them should suit your fancy!
As a volunteer, MUSA has made sure that my voice has been heard. I have always been given responsibilities that have challenged me. Keeping an eye on 15+ toddlers, for example, or packing up artefacts from the Bell Pettigrew Museum have certainly stretched my abilities and given me more opportunities than I could have imagined. My experience at MUSA inspired me to apply for an internship at the Connecticut Science Centre in the USA, where I’ll be working this summer in the Development department. My colleagues at MUSA were fabulous references, and I also feel confident, having spent a semester learning how a museum runs behind the scenes, that I can adapt to the work at the Science Centre, now with the knowledge of how museums aim to reach the public.
As a student volunteer, I constantly promote MUSA encourage my peers to try something new and fun, whether they enjoy museum-going or not. At the risk of sounding like an old woman, I must say that, out of all the museums I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting, MUSA is my favourite. And yes, I am extremely biased. That being said, I have never been so impressed by the drive to attract as many visitors as possible for the sole purpose of introducing them to St Andrews in a different way.
The University has many opportunities through which students can not only recognize their passions, but also add to their CV (which I know every single one of you is secretly worrying about). If you’re sticking around in the Bubble this summer, or live close by, why not volunteer this summer at MUSA? You never know where it will take you; I certainly didn’t envisage myself handling a Victorian animal skull or preserved butterflies back when I started volunteering in January.
Whether you’re a museum fiend or not, it’s always a good idea to try something new. As this academic year ends, check out one of MUSA’s last events, visit our incredible galleries, and maybe drop off your CV at the Front Desk!
Email your CV to Contact Cathy Cruickshank, MUSA Operations Officer for more details: cf29@st-