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Baltimore Museum of Art Photo Essay

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S: The Baltimore Museum of Art, Photo Essay

BC: Copyright 2012 Alison Reppert

FC: BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART 2 0 1 2 | Exploring Museum Professions 460.601.82 Museum Visit Photo Essay | by Alison Reppert

1: DONATION AND VISITOR INFORMATION BOXES | BMA | Donation and visitor information boxes were located in several different locations throughout the museum. These boxes are a representation of MARKETING, DEVELOPMENT and EXHIBITION PREPARATOR staffs.

2: "Fund-raising activities play an important role in the life of a museum, particularly in times of a sluggish economy and decreasing federal funding" (Glaser, 1996, p. 84).

3: Marketing | Development | Preparator | The main goal of marketing staff in a museum is "to increase public awareness, on-site and website visitors, sales, and other income to the museum" (Schlatter, 2008, p. 87). These donation boxes are a form of advertising, as well as a means for fund-raising. The marketing staff has creatively used phrases such as, "Your gift. Our masterpieces. Priceless!" and "Your donation brings art to life." Using bright colors and witty phrases, the BMA creates a successful advertising campaign. By strategically placing the boxes around the museum and in gallery spaces, the museum can quietly encourage visitors to donate to various causes. | Marketing and development work in tandem in a museum. The development staff often times works on large fund-raising events while maintaining a commitment to the museum's mission. Staff must also be knowledgeable about the surrounding community through the development of new ways to capture visitor demographics. The visitor information boxes act as a means for learning about what type of visitors are interested in the museum and its mission, as well as creating a connection with that audience through e-mail, phone and mailing address. Feedback can be gleaned through these channels and assist the development staff in planning future programs (Bearman, 1990, p. 12). | Preparators are an integral part of the exhibition team. Their primary function is to perform the hands-on aspects to exhibit installation, de-installation and maintenance, using a variety of techniques and materials. The donation and visitor information boxes would have been constructed by an exhibition preparator, just as if they were being used in a gallery space to house artifacts. It is also part of their responsibility to ensure that vitrines and plinths are constructed to museum standards. Any additions, such as a slot or holder for visitor information cards, would be fabricated and executed by the preparator.

4: "Membership gained on site is undoubtedly the most effective" (Lord, 1990, p. 2)

5: VISITOR SERVICES DESK | BMA | The visitor services desk of the BMA is located to the right of the entranceway. It is a representation of INFORMATION SYSTEMS and MEMBERSHIP staffs. | Information Systems | Membership | The visitor services staff at the desk has access to the computer systems of the museum, from membership information to collections lists to social media platforms, which are all monitored and maintained by the information officer. According to Schlatter (2008), the retrieval and dissemination of information via computer systems is the primary function of the information officer (p.84). With the great developments in technology over the past ten years, staff are expected to be familiar with the information systems in the museum, from the museum's website to membership information, in order to optimize the experience of the visitor. | Upon entering the Baltimore Museum of Art, you are immediately greeted by the visitor services desk attendant. She asks if you are there to see the galleries, provides you with a map and informs you about their membership program if you are not already a member. This initiative is a clear representation of the role of membership officer in a museum. Since the primary responsibility of a membership manager is to recruit and retain members, they are effectively performing their duties by using the visitor services attendant as a liaison. Lord (1990) discusses the importance of gaining membership on site because people who joined during a museum visit are more likely to renew that membership than those who joined as a result of a direct mail campaign (p. 2). Through the direct approach, as well as the informative brochures located at the desk, the BMA undoubtedly recruits and maintains a strong membership base.

6: GIFT SHOP | BMA | THeT | The BMA's gift shop is the first thing a visitor will notice when entering the museum, as it is located immediately off the lobby. This area is a representation of EDUCATION, MUSEUM SHOP and PUBLICATIONS/EDITOR staff. | Education | While the position of educator in a museum is often thought to revolve around public programs and school groups, they also have a hand in selecting material to be sold in the museum's gift shop. According to Schlatter (2008), educators also write texts and design materials to be used by on- and off-site visitors, which would include material for the BMA's gift shop (p. 80). The photo above shows the educational items available for purchase geared towards children. The variety of books, such as research, fiction and children's, chosen to be sold in the gift shop also would have had the input of museum educators.

7: Museum Shop | Publications/Editor | The most obvious representation of a museum profession in the museum gift shop is the museum shop staff, whose role is to promote the museum's mission, in order to become an extension of the museum exhibitions and educational programs (Glaser, 1996, p. 116). The BMA's gift shop is the first and last thing a museum visitor will see, so its appearance needs to be maintained and the staff needs to leave a lasting positive impression. The shop assistant did just that during my visit. She was friendly and helpful, which will aid in encouraging visitors to return. | The position of editor is not often found on a museum's staff list. Many times it is on a contractual basis due to financial constraints, but is always necessary if a museum wants to maintain a reputation for well-written and attractive publications (Glaser, 1996, p. 90). A museum's gift shop would have most of its publications, such as exhibit literature, journal articles and museum guides, available for purchase, which would have been edited before printing.

8: The exhibit spaces of the BMA are impressive and cover a multitude of subject matters. These aspects of exhibit spaces are a representation of CONSERVATION, CURATORIAL and EDUCATION staffs. | Conservation | Curatorial | Education | When walking through the exhibits at the BMA, you may notice devices tucked into the corners and hidden by display boxes. These instruments, called hygrothermographs, are used by the conservation staff to record relative humidity and temperature in the galleries. Environmental factors are extremely important to monitor because any fluctuation could cause stress to artifacts. The responsibility of the conservator "is twofold: examination and treatment of collection material, and the protection of the collection from further deterioration" (Glaser, 1996, p. 78). Hygro-thermographs are used as a form of preventative conservation. | "The museum's curators have always had three primary roles: we have collections responsibilities, we must be historians and we assist with with exhibition development..." (Bryck, 2001). The written text accompanying the painting in the photograph to the right is an example of these responsibilities. Through research and studies of the museum's collection, a curator is able to capture the essence and history of the work and successfully convey it to the museum's audience. | The BMA offers a variety of supplemental materials to enhance your museum visit, two of which are pictured to the left - a gallery guide and audio tours. The museum education staff focuses on informal learning, or learning that takes place outside of the traditional classroom (Schlatter, 2008, p. 80). Both of these educational programs provide a new way of learning for museum visitors.



11: "Much of this work involves strong communication and collaborative skills to best interpret into a graphic format the goals of the exhibition team, which, in addition to curators, educators, and exhibition staff members, may include registrars, conservators, information technology and system staff, and marketing and visitor services workers" (Schlatter, 2008, p. 60). | Several wings of the BMA were undergoing renovations during the visit. These renovations are a representation of the CURATORIAL, EXHIBITION DESIGN and COLLECTIONS staffs.

12: Curatorial | Exhibition Design | Collections | One of the responsibilities of an exhibition development and design team is to act as a team leader among other museum staff, "providing the vision to create exhibitions based on sound scholarship that will engage the museum's audience and attract new visitors" (Schlatter, 2008, p. 62). The exhibition staff played a large part in the renovations being performed at the BMA, from initial designs to installation. Part of their responsibility is also adhering to deadlines, and with the reopening of the Contemporary Wing occurring on November 18, 2012, the exhibition manager would have to ensure that all aspects of the project were completed by this date. | Curators also play a large part in the development of a new exhibition by developing themes, choosing objects, writing text and overseeing the installation (Schlatter, 2008, p. 57). By creating a cohesive vision through written text and choice of objects, the curator is able to produce a successful, new, inviting gallery space for visitors. Unlike the physical responsibilities of the exhibition and collections team, the curator is primarily concerned about the intellectual content of the exhibit. | Collection managers are responsible for the documentation and care of the objects. Two skills that would be essential for the renovation at the BMA would be: the ability to accurately identify objects and artifacts within the context of the museum's collection and the ability to handle objects appropriately with knowledge of the fundamental principles of conservation, security, storage and environmental controls (Glaser, 1996, p. 76). Objects moved from storage to gallery spaces for the exhibit would be monitored by the collections manager, and the collections staff would ensure that all museum policies and procedures are followed.

13: "You start building that little framework, then you start shaping your research and shaping your questions around the key visitor experiences and I think it just makes for a more seamless, in my mind, a more pleasing visitor experience because the visitor has been considered from day one" -Kate Roberts, Senior Exhibit Developer, Minnesota Historical Society

14: REFERENCES | Bearman, D. (1990). Chapter 1: Membership, Development, & Participation Functions. In Functional Requirements for Membership, Development & Participation Systems, Archives & Museum Informatics Technical Report. Retrieved from Bryck, N. V. (2001, March/April). Reports of our Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Reconsidering the Curator. Museum News. Glaser, J. R., & Zenetou, A. A. (1996). Museums: A place to work, planning museum careers. New York, NY: Routledge. Lord, G. (1990). Introduction: The Role of Membership and Development in Museums. In Bearman, D., Functional Requirements for Membership, Development & Participation Systems, Archives & Museum Informatics Technical Report. Retrieved from Sayre, S. (Interviewer) & Roberts, K. (Interviewee). (2009). Johns Hopkins University, Exploring museum professions, interviews with today's museum professionals [Interview transcript]. Schlatter, N. E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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  • By: Alison R.
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  • Title: Baltimore Museum of Art Photo Essay
  • A photo essay completed for the Johns Hopkins University Museum Studies program.
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  • Published: over 5 years ago