“Lean into the unknown” to find your way to a creative career

We may all live with COVID for a long time to come, but it is only for a select few that their job is to collect memories about it.

Senior Curator of Human Biology and Medicine at Museums Victoria, Dr Johanna Simkin, is part of a team of curators who have collected stories and objects to capture the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on life of the Victorians.

“Items vary widely, from community and personal stories, such as ‘I survived the great toilet paper shortage of 2020’ memories, to the first Australian images taken of SARS-CoV-2…courtesy of the Institute Doherty,” Simkin said.

Chief curator of human biology and medicine at the Victoria Museums Johanna Simkin found “the best of both worlds”. Credit:Victoria Museums

Simkin came to the curation through a circuitous route — she was previously a research biologist. She says she never planned to work in a museum.

“It’s the best of both worlds now – doing exhibits means I can always keep up to date with new health discoveries and think up creative ways to showcase them,” says Simkin.

Simkin recently hosted an exhibit exploring findings about the impact of microbes living in our gut on our mental and physical health. Part of her role is to work with other members of the museum team to brainstorm creative presentations.

“In the microbiome exhibit, visitors could walk through a bustling, undulating gut tunnel filled with microbes the length of their own nine-meter gut, be immersed in huge colorful projections, and play a digital food fight game. “, she says.

While every day is different in his role as curator, Simkin points out that cultural institutions offer a wide range of jobs.

“The museum is a hive of diverse experts in design, media, education, carpentry, digital, collections management, curatorial and more,” she says.

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