Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hello! My name is Joe Kelly and I’m the Audio Visual Team Leader at the British Museum.
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
In my role I specifically focus on designing and implementing AV (audio-visual) systems into the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibition spaces. I also manage the in-house AV team to ensure we support the museum as a whole with any AV requests, particularly with large scale conferences, events and music festivals hosted by various departments within the museum.
What’s great about your job?
The British Museum is an incredible place to work, it’s full of interesting and fascinating objects – as well as people! The best thing about my job is that I’m lucky enough to be involved in working on some of the largest and well renowned exhibitions with very talented colleagues. The museum has over 1,000 employees, it’s extremely inclusive with lots of projects and activities to get involved in if you want to do so.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
Most publicly funded institutions, such as the British Museum, don’t receive enough funding to make life easy. It can be challenging to work with equipment or procedures that haven’t been upgraded or updated in the timeframe they should have been. However, this keeps you on your toes and helps you learn a lot by getting hands on!
What are the highlights of your career to date?
‘I Am Ashurbanipal: King Of The World, King Of Assyria’ is our most recent exhibition to open at the museum a few weeks ago. The team and I worked hard to ensure all AV throughout the gallery was designed and installed on time and to a good standard. The exhibition received some amazing reviews, particularly on the digital media elements we worked on which was great to hear.
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
When I was studying Music Technology at the London College of Music, I began working at the Imperial College London in South Kensington as an AV Technician on a casual contract. It was a great insight into AV and worked well alongside completing my degree.
Once I finished my degree I began working at the British Museum in the current team as an AV Technician. After two years I was promoted and I’ve now been the AV Team Leader for almost three months.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge so far in my career is the one I’m facing right now (and will most likely continue to do so throughout) which is learning how to line manage effectively whilst juggling multiple projects! Because our team of five supports everything AV related throughout the museum - there’s a lot to look after.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
A 16 year old me? There’s far too many messages I would send! I’d definitely tell myself to focus on what’s important at the time. Whether that’s exams, personal projects or coursework – they all make a huge difference once stepping into a new career.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
The AV industry can be very rewarding in numerous ways, especially when working in an interesting place such as a museum. If you enjoy problem solving, have an interest in audio and/or visuals and have a constant want to learn, then I would highly recommend working in AV. There’s a lot of good apprenticeships, zero hour contracts and entry level positions available to get your foot in, give it a go!