S: Museum Visit Photo Essay- Sharjah Art Museum
BC: References | Glaser, J. R., & Zenetou, A. A. (1996). Museums: A place to work, planning museum careers. New York, NY: Routledge. Schlatter, N. E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. Walnut Creek, CA: Leftcoast Press. Sharjah Museums Department website, retrieved from www.sharjahmuseums.ae 2011 Interview with Joan Gorman, 2008, Sandbox Studios. Interview with Griffith Mann, 2008, Sandbox Studios.
FC: Exploring Museum Professions Museum Visit Photo Essay Sharjah Art Museum Kate Matar
1: The Sharjah Art Museum is situated in the UAE's emirate of Sharjah. The museum is currently the largest art museum in the Gulf Region and houses displays of both the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. The Sharjah Art Museum is one of 17 museums educational spaces and historical sites run by the Sharjah Museums Department which is an independent government department. (www.sharjahmuseums.ae, 2011) Upon entering the Sharjah Art Museum the visitor encounters the reception desk where staff are on hand to give directions and information and also the museum shop. As stated by Schlatter (2008, pg 90) "museum stores provide an important source of income as well as contribution to the museums public identity. Retail store managers are responsible for stocking the store with appealing goods, assisting with product development, ensuring quality customer service and overseeing all accounting and logistics needs of the shop." | Museum Entrance and Shop
2: The Sharjah Art Museum's permanent collection features pieces that explore the history of the region through Orientalist painters of the 18th and 19th centuries. | A number of professionals would be involved in the display, maintenance and interpretation of this permanent collection. A noticeable feature of the Sharjah Art Museum is that all didactic materials, labels, texts etc. are produced in both Arabic and English languages. Therefore the team working on these materials would need to involve experienced translators who would work with the curator and education teams to ensure that the two versions of the texts convey the same information, messages and meanings. Designers and exhibition managers would then be involved in the design, production and installation of the wall texts and labels. | Permanent Collection
3: This gallery is currently empty and is awaiting the installation of a new exhibition. A great number of museum professionals will be involved in changing this space from a blank canvas to an inspiring exhibition, these professionals may include; Curator, Exhibition Manager, Designer/Museographer, Registrar/Collections Manager, Conservator, Preparators, Art Handlers Lighting and AV designers/technicians Security personnel/technicians and Education providers Furthermore, promoting and interpreting the content of the exhibition to the visiting public will then fall to the; Curator, Docents/Visitors Service providers, Education, Public Programming, Marketing and PR/Communications | Empty Gallery Space
4: The Sharjah Art Museum is the home to the annual display of work by the Emirates Fine Arts Society, which in 2011 was in its 29th year. A large proportion of the Museum's gallery space was dedicated to this temporary exhibition which featured painting, sculpture, installation and audio visual art by a number of prominent UAE artists. | As with the permanent collection a great variety of museum professions would have been involved in producing this exhibition. Two of the more prominent roles are that of curator whos tasks in this case would have been to "organise the exhibition, including developing the themes, choosing objects, writing text, overseeing the installation and publishing articles, catalogues and books about the exhibition" (Schlatter, 2008, pg 57-58) and the exhibition manager who's job is to "develop the exhibition, oversee installation, maintenance and deinstallation and serve as the team leader of the exhibition project by coordinating the efforts of all other exhibition staff members" (Schlatter, 2008, pg 62). | Temporary Exhibition
6: Throughout the permanent and temporary exhibitions of the Sharjah Art Museum there are many audio-visual, security and environmental monitoring instruments and machines. Security cameras are present throughout the galleries and would be overseen by the security team who are "responsible for securing and protecting the museum's building, collections, personnel and on site funds. They monitor the museums alarm system and guard the museum's collection through on the floor security guards" (Schlatter, 2008, pg 92). | Audio Visual, Security and Environmental Equipment
7: Abdullah is a gallery technician. He, or one of his colleagues, is always present during the opening hours of the museum in order to ensure that all lighting and audio visual equipment is functioning effectively and to repair or replace any equipment that may have stopped working. | Temperature and humidity is constantly measured within th Sharjah Art Museum in order to ensure the preservation of the artworks and this monitoring would be overseen by the conservator. "The museum conservator protects, repairs, restores, cleans and preserves objects from the museum's collection." (Schlatter , 2008, pg 55) There is no evidence of an on-sight conservation lab for the conservator to work from, one may exist, but as pointed out by Joan Gorman, (2008), many museums cannot afford to run a fully equipped conservation lab and so outsource conservation to an external conservation lab.
8: The packing room of Sharjah Art Museum houses all of the crates that are used to pack and transport artwork. Art Handlers and Registrars are involved in the unpacking, movement and packing of the artwork. Art Handlers "install and deinstall exhibitions through preparing objects for display, mounting and framing artwork and hanging work. Behind the scenes the Art Handlers pack and unpack objects for shipment or storage and move the objects around the museum" (Schlatter, 2008, pg 70). A registrar "ensures proper storage, handling and maintenance of the museum's objects. In addition they document every object that comes in and out of the museum, maintain records on the object's histories and provenance and conducts regular inventories of the entire collection" (Schlatter, 2008, pg 72). | Crate Room
9: These are some of the offices where Sharjah Art Museum professionals work. Unlike a trend identified by Griffith Mann, (2008), where museum's administration offices are at a separate location to the museum itself it appears that the Sharjah Art Museum currently has enough space to house both the public exhibition space and the back of house areas and offices. | Offices
10: The efforts of the Sharjah Museums Department's education team is evident throughout the Sharjah Art Museum with printed materials, workshops and programmes and special education spaces available. "Museum Educators instigate, facilitate and expand the museum's educational mission by creating and evaluating opportunities for informal learning. They are focussed on developing, managing and assessing the museum's public programs. They will often also write text and design education materials such as gallery guides, children's guides, educator's resource kits and online didactic material." (Schlatter, 2008, pg 80-81). | Education
11: Throughout the Sharjah Art Museum, and on the street surrounding the Museum district in Sharjah, there are promotional signs, banners and leaflets which would have been produced by the museum's marketing department. The primary goal of a museum's Marketing team is to "increase public awareness, visitor numbers, sales and revenue. They will develop, refine and promote the museum's brand and create marketing strategies aimed to target specific audiences. They will also conduct audience research in order to determine the public's perception of the institution and to determine ways to better refine the museum's offer to the audience's needs and desires."(Schlatter, 2008, pg 87-88) | Marketing
12: The library of Sharjah Art Museum takes the form of a traditional Arabian Majlis. The library houses books and audio and visual materials relating to the artwork featured in the collection, books relating to the wider region and also all books and poetry that has been written by the museum's patron His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. As identified by Schlatter (2008, pg 65-66) librarians serve as caretakers for the libraries collection and focus on tasks related to providing access to information and the preservation of the sources of information. | Library and Majlis
13: As with the museum shop the museum cafe also serves as a a source of revenue for the Sharjah Art Museum. Although not open during the research visit it can be assumed that the cafe requires the services of food preparators, sales staff and a manager in order for it it run effectively. It is worth noting that there was no real evidence of a volunteer progamming at the Sharjah Art Museum. This is not surprising as organised volunteering is a relatively new concept in the Middle East. The museums does however seem to suffer from a lack of tour guides and on the ground staff and starting a volunteer programme would be a great way to combat this whilst also engaging interested members of the community. As identified by Glaser and Zenetou (1996, pg 142) there are countless ways that volunteers can contribute to a museum and their contributions are often vital. | Cafe and Volunteers