FC: National Museum of the American Indian | Rachel Alexander Museum Visit Photo Essay
1: "If you are looking to do something that is useful to humankind, to make the world a better place, by all means do it!! You should think about museums" (Glaser and Zenetou, 1996, p. 4).
2: "Museum protection is everybody's business, and every and all museum staff have a stake in protecting the building, the collections, the exhibitions, the staff, and the public who visit" (Glaser and Zenetou, 1996, p. 115).
3: Security guards are the first and last people visitors see. Some remain at the front while others walk through the museum. There is also security staff who work behind the scenes and do tasks such as monitoring cameras. Behind these talented crew there is usually a security chief who is the administrative figure in charge of tasks such as training and supervising. In many museums, the security personnel ultimately report to the facilities manager who is also responsible for making the building safe. In small museums, security could be volunteers or other professionals who take turns watching the museum.
4: The next professionals to be recognized are the ones that run the front desk. Volunteers, interns, or visitor services associates physically run the desk and help visitors. If the institution is large enough, like this one, there will be a visitor service manager who controls all of the training and supervising of interns, volunteers, and staff who work not only at the visitor service desk, but who perform other duties such as taking visitors on guided tours and running public or special events. Many institutions have volunteer managers who are also responsible for hiring interns and volunteers and placing them in the appropriate spots, such as the front desk. Staff in charge of marketing and membership may also decide how the front desk runs to make sure the desk properly sells membership and special events.
5: "Since the advent of the blockbuster exhibition...visitor services have become a critical function for museums" (Schlatter, 2008, p. 94).
6: When a museum visitor sees pamphlets or groups of school children, they know it is in part the work of the education department and its educators. According to Glaser and Zenetou, the educators "employ a variety of media and techniques, including printed materials...demonstrations, tours, films, and special events" (1996, pg. 92).
7: Educators are becoming increasingly important in museums and are responsible for making materials and projects which relate the content of the museum to the visitor. These children are creating their own Dream Catchers to better understand their meaning and purpose. However, curators, researchers, visitor services staff, subject specialists, and facilities staff also contribute to making such projects possible by giving information and helping to assemble spaces for special events or programs.
9: At a large institution like this, labels are perhaps one of the most complex pieces. An exhibition team which includes professionals such as curators, researchers, educators, directors, and project managers decide what pertinent information will be put on the label, and how to best word the information so that it is clear and informative. They all participate in writing and editing labels. When it comes to putting up labels, exhibition designers and fabricators take part in choosing the right locations and looks, and then install them. A new trend is to take in visitor input when making an exhibition, so sometimes even the public has a hand in deciding what information goes on labels.
10: "Our task as conservation professionals is the protection of the human spirit as it manifests itself in the tangible, artistic products of culture" (Glaser and Zenetou, 1996, p.79).
11: Behind every object lies numerous professionals. Archivists, librarians, collections managers, and registrars allow for the keeping and finding of objects. Curators, educators, researchers, and specialists provide information about and relevancy of objects. Conservators assure that the objects are well cared for both in storage and on display. Exhibition and lighting staff also ensure the objects will not be damaged in display. Exhibition designers and fabricators ensure the correct environments for objects are still aesthetically pleasing and public friendly.
12: "Who makes sure the lights come on, the toilets flush, the grounds are mowed, and the elevator works?" (Schlatter, 2008, pg. 100).
13: When walking through a museum, the facilities managers or coordinators can not be forgotten about. They ensure that all of the things which make a visit comfortable and operational are kept up to date. The facilities managers usually supervisor staff which carry out different duties: security guards, groundskeepers, and housekeepers for example. In addition, CFO's, lawyers, and directors participate in making the museum operational by handling financial, legal, property, and administrative matters. When all of this runs smoothly, the visitor will enjoy clean, attractive, functional spaces to learn.
14: "Ka-ching! At many museums, this might be the first sound the visitor hears if not the last before leaving" (Schalter, 2008, p. 90).
15: For the museum shop to run smoothly, it requires the attention of many dedicated professionals. First, sales clerks, volunteers, or interns must run the cash registers and provide customer service. These employees might fall into the visitor service department. Retail managers must carry out the logistical needs of the store. Facilities managers must observe the overall picture. Marketing, public relations, and media specialist staff must ensure the store contains marketable items for visitors. Also, in todays technological age, webmasters, information officers, and systems creators allow visitors to see and buy products from the store online.
16: Overall, museums run not because of one person, but because of the collaboration of many.
17: Aspiring Museum Professionals | The amount of museum paid staff members and availability of specific positions depends heavily on museum size and budget: I visited a large museum, so my essay reflects the availability of a large budget and staff. But overall, in many museums, many attributes are due to the work of more then one individual. This atmosphere that is filled with unity and dedication towards specific missions makes a museum career worth striving for.
19: References Glaser, J.R., & Zenetou, A.A. (1996). Museums: A place to work: Planning museum careers. London: The Smithsonian Institution Schlatter, N.E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, Inc.