Meet: Nicole Hoffmann, Museum Interpretive Officer at The UP Museums

Posted on July 17, 2020

PhD candidate Nicole Hoffmann tells Tukkievaria why she loves her role as a Museum Interpretive Officer and what it entails, what she does in her free time (when she has some!) and about a few of her favourite things.

TV: Tell us about your background and how you came to work for The UP Museums.

NH: As a third-year student at UP, I worked at the UP Archives and served as research assistant for Professor Lize Kriel. After completing my undergraduate studies in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, I continued with an honours degree and began tutoring students in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies. I then worked as an information specialist in the digitisation office in the Department of Library Services, cataloguing and sorting the Woodhouse collection of San rock art slides. To make ends meet, I also worked as an online tutor for UNISA’s Department of History.

Subsequently I was appointed as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, and in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies for Heritage and Cultural Tourism (EFK) at UP while I completed my master’s degree. 

In March 2017, I heard that a post had become available at The UP Museums. Dr Sian Tiley-Nel, Head of The UP Museums, asked me to apply for the job. I followed her advice and was delighted when my application was met with success. In April 2017, I was appointed on a part-time contractual basis and at the beginning of 2020, my work hours were increased to a full workweek. I was offered a permanent full-time position as of 1 July 2020. 

What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

The fact that it offers endless variety. As a museum interpretive officer, I focus on the cultural tourism side of The UP Museums. During my engagement with museum audiences, I interpret the collections and exhibitions to allow them to forge connections and to be able to understand and relate to the objects on display. My aim is to provide a unique, unforgettable museum experience for visitors that will inform and change them. In the course of my work, I constantly learn something new about the artworks or new acquisitions. Visitors are always different, so I try to find out more about their backgrounds in order to customise the tours. No two tours or visitors are ever the same. 

What is your least favourite part of the job?

Frankly, I do not like administrative tasks, but they form part of every job. I have found that effective organisation and planning are necessary to excel. 

Which project or task do you consider to be the most significant accomplishment in your career thus far?

The completion of my master’s degree felt like a very significant milestone and I was encouraged to continue with my studies, though this time in Archaeology. I have since completed my honours degree in Archaeology (at UNISA) and am doing my PhD in Biblical Archaeology through UNISA. 

Do you have any suggestions to make UP an even better work environment?

While there is always room for improvement in any workplace, the University offers great benefits to its employees. These include an excellent salary package and many extras, such as being able to use the library. I also appreciate the fact that staff members can participate in the Employee Wellness Programme and attend Pilates classes, for example, which helps us all to develop a more balanced work-life routine. 

Is there any advice that you would like to share with colleagues?

It doesn’t matter if you fall down – everyone does at some point. What matters, however, is how you get back up. 

What do you do in your free time?

Most of my time is consumed by my postgraduate studies, but when I do have free time, I enjoy reading, creative writing, baking, cooking and embroidery. I also recently started exploring sewing as a new hobby.

What are your personal likes and dislikes?

I appreciate people who are punctual, organised and well prepared. I absolutely dislike dishonesty and scheming, malicious people. 

Quick quiz: Nicole’s favourites:

Sport: Pilates, swimming and hiking. And I love watching rock climbing, soccer and biathlon events

Food: Sauerbraten (traditional German beef roast), wraps, pizza, my mom’s pea soup

Travel destinations: I have a long list of places that I would love to visit, but for now my favourite travel destinations include the Kruger National Park, where I can switch off and relax, and Germany to visit family and friends. Otherwise, I have always dreamt of travelling to the UK, New Zealand, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Greece and any place that has ancient archaeological heritage sites, beautiful landscapes and amazing cultural attractions.

Movies / TV showsI enjoy fantasy, post-apocalyptic, adventure and historical television shows or movies like The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Grimm, Outlander, Poldark, The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series, The Witcher and more. I also enjoy romance, drama and comedies, though I detest horror movies and sitcoms!

Actors: My favourite actors are linked to the movies that I enjoy, for example, Peter Dinklage, Viggo Mortensen, Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Cate Blanchett and Elizabeth Banks, among others. 

Music: This is difficult. My taste in music is eclectic, so why choose only one genre? Mostly, I enjoy metal (Nightwish, Amaranthe, Brothers of Metal, Halestorm, Lacuna Coil and Powerwolf to name just a few). I also enjoy crossover (classical to contemporary), soundtracks from movies or television series, and songs by folk artists like Faun, Eurielle, Lindsey Stirling, David Garrett, James Horner, James Newton Howard and John Lunn, as well as popular artists such as Imagine Dragons, Bastille, Adele, Matthew Mole and Gabrielle Aplin, among others. 

All-time hero: JK Rowling [Harry Potter creator], who got back up and beat incredible odds. 

- Author Department of Institutional Advancement

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