Museums Learning Officer


Learning Officer, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester

Lisa Jacques at her desk

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Ten questions for ten creatives


  1. What do you do for a living? 
    I am a full time Learning Officer at Leicester Arts and Museums Service.  There are two Learning Officers here and we work across 5 sites.  I work with colleagues in lots of other departments all related to the museum, so curators, designers, marketing, conservation; it’s a very interesting job. The visitors I work with include children, families, school groups and young people.  I also work with artists, partner organisations, community groups and have a team of workshop facilitators that run our participatory learning sessions.
  2. What was the path that led you to do what you do now? 
    When I left school I studied A levels, maths, chemistry and design and although I loved chemistry and maths I wasn’t very good at them so I put all my energy and passion into design.  I then went on to do an Art & Design Foundation course which was amazing! I then studied Wood, Metal, Ceramic and Plastics (WMCP) Ba Hons at the University of Brighton, where I specialised in designing and making jewellery.
    When I graduated I really didn’t know what I wanted to do but I was offered a job in an antiquarian book and print shop so I took it. I also helped out a friend with her job by teaching the ceramic lessons for groups at a Young Offenders Centre and this led to the offer of work.  So I was working full time between two jobs, one teaching and the other in a shop.
    After experiencing teaching I decided to get qualified and did a teaching qualification to teach in Further and Higher Education.  I then went on to teach in Further Education for 8 years had a break and travelled the world for a bit (highly recommended) then taught in Higher Education at De Montfort University for 2 years.
    I then decided that I needed to find out more about the ‘real’ world, how makers survived? How they make their living? And I wanted to work more closely with artists.  This was a big step for me to come out of formal education and go into gallery learning, they are extremely different areas and this was the beginning of my Learning Officer role at Leicester Arts and Museums some 10 years ago!
  1. What did you want to be when you were at school? 
    When I was 7 I remember I wanted to be a school teacher so I could shout at everyone! But when I went to study my A levels, I wanted to be a forensic scientist – I just wasn’t very good at it unfortunately.  I enjoyed making that was a passion so it was this path I followed.
  2. What one piece of advice would you give your younger self? 
    Be confident and be sure of who you are; all of the flaws, and all of the good things. Make every experience a learning experience; we are all still learning every day.
  3. What do you like most about your job? 
    The variety it provides and the creativity it allows.  Using new ideas and different ways of learning to help people understand about the world of art is challenging but immensely rewarding.  Tackling and solving problems through participatory activity, watching people ‘do’ and what they ‘do’ is fascinating.
  4. What do you find most challenging? 
    Working with people who are reluctant to change. “We do it this way because that’s the way we have always done it”, are the poisoned words I dread to hear.
  5. What’s your favourite song (at the moment)? 
    Oooh, I do love anything by Duke Dumont and my last gig was to see Massive Attack!  I love songs I can dance to, sing to and loose myself in.
  6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? 
    I was very fortunate to travel around the world and there are two places I absolutely loved and would definitely go back again. One was the island Aitutaki, part of the Cook Islands, just for its pure beauty and isolation and the other was Japan because it was such a culture shock. I also went to Russia 27 years ago so would love to go back there to see how it has changed.
  7. Name three things that you always take with you to work on an average day. 
    Work keys, diary, and phone – absolute essentials I cannot go through the working day without any of these!
  8. Tell us a joke or a secret. 
    What do you call a spider with no legs? A currant.