UCL Careers


Breaking into the Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Sector: An interview with UCL alum Alexandra

Missed the Autumn term's Museums & Cultural Heritage Sector Insight Event? Read this summary featuring insights from UCL alumni Alexandra Steinacker-Clark.

A portrait image of UCL alumni Alexandra Steinacker-Clark.

14 March 2024

At the end of October 2023, UCL Careers held the panel discussion “An Introduction to the Museums and Cultural Heritage Sector”. With speakers from English Heritage, the British Museum and the Design Museum, students got a varied and practical insight into how to go about getting into this sector of work, and what they can expect from that important first job. Our fourth panellist, American-Austrian art historian Alexandra Steinacker-Clark (UCL History of Art alum), added a valuable insight into the commercial side of the sector.  Alexandra is Gallery and Exhibitions Manager at Galerie Max Hetzler, and also presents the popular podcast “All About Art”.  We spoke with Alexandra about the podcast, and all things art. 

Tell us about the podcast – when was it founded? 

The podcast was founded in Spring 2021 with the vision to demystify the professional arts and cultural sector. It covers a wide range of professions in the sector, providing an exchange of experiences between people who have developed their professional contributions to the arts into successful careers. The vast variety of artsy topics caters to both an audience that is well-versed in all things art, as well as those who may be starting out and wish to gain further insights. 

Tell us about your career up to now.

I obtained my BA in History of Art at UCL and continued my education at Goldsmiths University with an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy. My research interests include feminism and artificial intelligence in contemporary art, western museum and cultural policies, as well as accessibility and engagement in the arts.  

Before Galerie Max Hetzler, I worked at Skarstedt Gallery in Sales, and briefly for artist Shezad Dawood as his Studio Manager. Prior to that, I was at Sotheby’s auction house for 4 years while I completed my degrees. Between work and university, I undertook internships at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and Stern Pissarro Gallery in London. Throughout this time, I have also conducted various freelance projects such as TEDxUCL, where I spoke on art consumption and its link to empathy and society, exhibition curation both nationally and internationally, as well as presenting and lecturing. 

What gave you your passion for this sector? 

Discovering in high school that learning about and working with art would allow me to wake up every day and enjoy what I do! I couldn't live a life different to that.  

How would you describe your current role(s)? 

Three words to describe my role(s): Versatile, Social, and Fast-Paced! 

What are your five top tips for breaking into the Museums and Cultural Heritage Sector? 

  1. Don’t forget the importance of networking, building contacts & presenting yourself professionally. This could be from a variety of avenues - both with your fellow students and other alumni, in person at networking events, online using LinkedIn, sending speculative emails or even by following potential employers on Instagram. However you choose to build your professional relationships; make it personal, and whether you’re online or in person. 

  2. Be prepared to create your own opportunities. Whilst searching for internships or work experience in the sector, don’t forget that your own hobbies and personal interests are equally valuable for building your skills and showing your motivation and interest in the sector. Our panellists shared their own examples, from creating a blog to running a podcast. 

  3. Although crucial for building your CV, work experience is also important when it comes to finding out what you like, what you want to learn and how you want to challenge yourself in the future. Remember that sales, administration, customer service, teaching and nearly all client-facing roles are equally valuable for showcasing relevant skills in the sector. 

  4. Skill building is a continual process and something you will develop throughout your career. Our panel listed people skills, leadership and managing change as key areas for development within the sector right now – plus the value of the unexpected, such as learning how to drive a pallet truck! 

  5. Don’t be scared to ask for what you want. Whether that is asking for advice and feedback, asking for more responsibility or learning opportunities, or asking outright for experience, it is crucial to speak up. Unposted or internally advertised roles are common in the sector, so don’t forget to enquire with smaller, local organisations. 

Search for the “All About Art” podcast on Apple, Spotify and all good podcast providers, and read more information about the podcast.