What does your ideal museum job look like?


My ideal museum job would be to have a job in the museum that has many different aspects to it. The first part would be to have a part in educating people about the items that are in the museum, some kind of educational portion of that where I could help teach about either specific species of animals or a certain exhibit that is at the museum. And part of this educational portion of the job I’d like to have some hands-on items some things that people could actually do or maybe even touch to give them some kind of feeling of what the items are for the background behind some of these items. I think this needs to be a way of incorporating education with some fun kind of items so that way it peaks the interest of the people that are coming in it also creates an educational environment and a learning environment and also makes them want to come back and learn more about the subject or the exhibits or just the museum as a whole. It would also be good to have part of this educational factor to be able to bring in maybe even artist to look at collections and see what they would come up with as pieces of art from an artist standpoint to give them inspiration. And also if there was something that was culturally significant to indigenous people or people that were around and would be nice to be able to incorporate their ideas and their thoughts into exhibit to be more culturally friendly. The second part would be the field work I think if I worked in a museum I would love to be able to go to the field and actually do some fieldwork of collecting objects or viewing sites or even meeting people of the cultures that we have artifacts are coming from. I would also like to be able to travel to different museums and be able to see how those museums operate and how they work from behind the scenes and also having that relationship between museums to museums around the world. Also part of this would be to help with the exhibits or even the cataloging of the pieces that were coming in from all over the world or even if those were just pieces that were in the museum today. I think this is an intricate part of museums and how they work but I also think it would be very interesting to see some of these exhibits or pieces from behind the scenes where you’re actually getting to look or even touch history. In the third part would be for me to come to work every day and just enjoy working in the museum. I think that’s a big part of it for me, is that I want to come to work and enjoyment of wanting to be there and enjoying what I do, the people that I would meet things that I would learn from just working in a museum. So I think if I can find a museum job that had all those things or at least allowed me to work in those different areas I think this would be the ideal museum job for me that I could see myself doing for a long time. 


I found this article about museums and how they are operating during Covid. And there’s some really interesting parts to this that I never thought of before and that was some extent of how do you facilitate somebody going through a museum during Covid times. Which means looking at everything from pathways to get around to see the exhibit or the artwork, floor tiles and carpet  to guide people, ticketing , lobby and even dealing with traffic flow. Exhibit design is also a factor to make sure  there are some different alternative ways to make sure that people are seen the exhibit but also being safe during these Covid times. And that the way that they are starting to incorporate more multi media into these exhibits and some of the just unique ways of people during this timer trying to make sure that people are able to get to a museum. One of the coolest ideas I thought was thinking about doing drive-through museums or immersion while you’re in your car for people. 

QUESTION: What new idea would you like to see in a museum? What is something you have seen in a museum that you thought was a great idea?


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2 Thoughts to “Discussion 3 : What does your ideal museum job look like?”

  1. Martin Gutoski

    Michael, If you want a job that sounds like your ideal, just get involved in some small local museum and you’ll probably have all those wrapped into one. Most of the smaller ones that Angie outlined in her types that have less that $250 budgets have multi faceted directorships or other minuscule divisions of labor (labour if you go to Canada or the UK). Dinky facilities that like these have few paid professional staff and mostly depend heavily on volunteer help.
    As former director of the Tanana Valley Railroad museum in Fairbanks working for free as a retiree, I coordinated displays, public outreach, research and archiving for collections. If you get hooked up with a medium large one like UAMN as a volunteer docent you can dance around getting experience in the outreach arm and get to know the others who work in paid positions. But once you get into a paid position it pretty well compartmentalizes you into a structure of detailed job descriptions and narrow focus within that hierarchical chain. So as a spin on Horace Greely’s advise to young frontier seekers, GO SMALL YOUNG MAN and you will find your future.

    On the COVID front my wife went to the Denver Art Museum last week to see a traveling exhibit of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Due to Covid restrictions she could only vie for tickets online for entry limited to 25 visitors in half hour increments. This only cost $20 but was also limited to the month the traveling exhibit was on display. So it was not posted as a virtual exhibit but could only be seen in person. Once there it was necessary to of course wear masks and stay six feet apart. Also there were no benches or seats to plunk down when your feet or knees ache from grazing to look at artworks for three hours. She was unable to look fully at this massive exabit in all three gallery rooms. Probably one of the primary reasons for not being virtual is the cost of hosting the traveling museum for a month on a limited basis and of course no one could take photographs once on site.

  2. Angela Linn

    I agree with Martin – small museums provide an opportunity to be involved in every aspect of operations and you’ll never have a dull moment. That said, it’s my experience that fewer of the medium- and large-sized museums can afford today to keep staff so compartmentalized. It’s been my observation that museums benefit greatly from collaborations that require staff step out of their designated position descriptions and hierarchical position and embrace the “other duties as assigned!” It’s the best way to develop projects that bring in diverse viewpoints and highlight stories that engage in deeper and more meaningful ways. Internally, staff learn what challenges their colleagues are faced with so they can work together more efficiently in achieving the mission of the museum.

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