BC: The End
FC: La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum | Museum Visit Photo Essay
1: For my Museum visit photo essay, I chose to look at the La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum. I chose the Tar Pits because they are only the one of its kind among museums. The Pits themselves, huge pools of boiling tar that have been seeping up to the surface, are a registered National Natural Landmark. Over hundreds of thousands of years, animals have gotten stuck in the tar and preserved. The excavated specimens are on display at the Page Museum. Therefore the pits are a landmark, an active excavation site, and a traditional museum. The interrelationship between it’s three characteristics makes it a unique type of educational institute.
2: Like all museums, the Tar Pits have a full security staff, headed by the security officer, who supervises a number of guards. The guards are responsible for the protection of visitors to the museum. They are also responsible for ensuring the protection of the museum itself as well as its many artifacts. Dangers can include attempted theft or damage to the artifacts caused by careless visitors. The security chief oversees the guards and established security and emergency protocols. He also oversees the museum’s security system.
3: In talking to the guard pictured, I learned that for the Page guards, the most frequent issues involve the pits themselves. Visitors carelessly throw trash into the pits, which looks terrible and can cause problems with the digs. Guards have to monitor the sites and make sure that people do not throw anything into it. Another concern is that visitors will try to climb the railings to look into the pits, which can easily lead to accidents. People have in fact become stuck in the tar trying to fool around.
4: An often overlook area of the museum world is the maintenance and grounds staff. These are the individuals responsible for insuring that the museum is a clean, attractive place to be. At a basic level, this involves nothing more than keeping the grass cut and the plants looking nice. While this might seem trivial, for many, the parks around a museum are also a place to congregate, and a part of the urban landscape. It is also the first part of the museum a visitor sees, to making sure that it makes a good first impression is important. Other duties can include carrying for gardens or animals the museum choses to incorporate.
5: For the Page Museum, which is build around a national natural landmark, upkeep of the landmark is of vital importance. Staff has to go to the pits almost daily to remove trash that has been thrown in, trim plants around the edges and do anything else to make sure that the pits are in good enough shape that they will be preserved for future generations.
6: Entering the museum itself, we come to the position of docent. Docents lead visitors on tours through the various exhibits and collections. As such, it is their job to interpret the displays for the viewing public. Ideally, they should also educate visitors, and encourage them to think about the displays and ask questions. Ideally, they should also help start a dialogue with the pubic about the artifacts as well as helping the public to make a personal connection. In the Page Museum, they are referred to as museum interpreters.
9: d | One of the most important positions in any museum is that of curator. A curator is the person responsible of a museum’s collections. This includes deciding what objects to purchase for the museum and of the museum’s collections, what to display. They are also responsible for the care and documentation of the object, as well as research conducted on them. A curator’s work deals with all levels of the collection. On an individual level, they are responsible for documenting and labeling everything in the collection, arranging for loans and facilitating research and study of the objects. On a large scale, they work with the collections as a whole, a curator organizes the various objects of the collection into a cohesive exhibit. They are further reasonable with formulating the interpretation of the exhibit that will be presented to the public. They decide policy and procedure regarding the artifacts, and help establish a long term vision for the collection. Lastly, they plan out new and different ways to present the objects to the public. In larger museums, with multiple sections, a curator generally specializes in one area. These museums will employee one curator for each of their specific collections, such as a paintings curator, sculpture curator and so forth. In a smaller museum like the Page, which only has one area of focus, the curator is charged with overseeing the entire collection. In the Page, the curator oversees the fossils pulled out of the tar pits. It is then their job to decided which fossils should be displayed, how they should be displayed, and how these displays should be interpreted for visitors.
10: Oftentimes working with the curator is the Exhibitions Manager. Exhibitions managers are in charge of the physical aspects of the exhibit. They oftentimes design and build the displays, helping turn the curator’s ideas into a reality. They prepare the space for the exhibit, and manage much of the technical work, such as proper lighting and sound. They also deal with parts of the exhibit that do not involve the object, such as creating models and dioramas.
11: While the curator physically deals with the objects, the registrar deals with the more bureaucratic aspects of the collection. Their main job is managing the flow of information regarding the objects in the collection. This includes all forms, loan requests from other museums, insurance information, shipping data and information on how to properly care for the objects. They also help the museum develop policy regarding the objects. The job is generally very analytic in nature. In the Page Museum, much of this job involves dealing with loan requests from other institutions, partially the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History.
12: An archivist is in charge of properly managing a museum’s archives. They are tasked with making sure that everything in the archive is properly labeled and cataloged. Further, they must make sure that everything is kept according to its proper classification. They also make sure that the items are stored in ideal conditions to prevent them from falling into disrepair. They usually work with other areas of the museum that use the archives. The Page Museum boasts a massive number of fossils, all of which must be documented and placed in their proper grouping.
14: The job of an educator is to provide learning opportunities for the public. Unlike a docent, who stays with the exhibit, educators might leave the museum, teaching in school or community events. Within the museum, they create new education programs for the visitors based on the museum’s mission and try to use the existing for learning opportunities. They often use a wide array of media and often employ computers, audio-visual aids or other technologies. Some places, such as the Page, have educators who deal specifically with children, as shown here.
15: Many museums have an audio-visual manager. As the name implies, they are in charge of the audio and visual aspects of the museum. This can include movies, and guided audio tours. Doug, seen below runs the museum’s film projector which displays several relevant movies.
16: h | The job of a conservator is to examine and care for the objects in the collection. They repair the objects if broken and treat them to prevent further deterioration. In addition to physically fixing the object, the make sure that ti has a safe environment by adjusting factors such as the heat and lighting. They also make sure that they are properly stored. Working with the conservator is the conservator scientist. These scientists study and analyze the object to help the conservator plan a course of action. They also examine the objects with a variety of high tech instruments to better determine the object's condition and authenticity. | In the Tarp Pits, most of the objects are fossils. Because of this, most of the conservators work digging out and repairing the fossils. This requires a high degree of scientific knowledge and a background in paleontology is preferred. The Pits also boast a world famous room, known as the fishbowl. Walled with a glass circle, the room allows visitors to actually witness first hands as staff works on the fossils.
18: An important part of any museum is membership. Many museums depend on membership as a major source of income. Members of a museum also feel a strong connection to the museum, and help cement it’s place in the community. A membership officer works to recruit new members for the museum and retain the already existing ones. They might plan and implement special member only events of educational programs. In addition, officers manage the membership database and create brochures to attract members and create a budget for membership activities. They work close with the public relations department and advertising department to formulate the best ways draw in and retain members.
19: Visitors are the cornerstone of every museum. In modern museum thought, a positive visitor experience is one of the purposes of a museum. To this end, museums employ visitor services staff. These staff members greet visitors at he door, answerer any questions they might have and try to help in any way possible. They must be knowledgeable enough about the topics to be able to give guests the right information and must have enough public skills to make sure they have a pleasant experience. In addition to information, they also must deal with crowd control, tickets and accessibility concerns. Overseeing the staff is the visitor services manager. Their job is to see to it that staffers to meeting visitor ’s needs. They hire and train the staff as well as coordinate and train them. They also developed procedures for staff to follow, as well as rule to make sure that visitors have a positive trip. Lastly, they might oversee scheduling and other staff issues.
21: Another major source of income for museums is the gift shop. Items displaying the museum’s logo or things with pictures of objects the museum is famous for are always popular. Visitors, especially those from out of town like to have a souvenir to remember their trip by. These shops are run by the sales team, and overseen by a sales manager. The team is responsible for making sure items are in stock and where they are supposed to be. They also ring up customer sales. The manager oversees the staff and the shop’s general operations. He also is responsible for the merchandizing budget and the store account. In some museums, he is also responsible for coming up with new items to sell. The Page gift shop is reasonably inexpensive, and has many nice items, including stone carvings and large gem stones.
22: This is Lauren Clark, the Communications and Marketing Manager. A marketing manager conducts market research in order create a marketing plan for the museum. They work with staff to create strategies to better promote the museum to its audience. They are also heavily involved with advertising for the museum as well as fundraising campiness and membership drives. They might also oversee mailing, special offers and a museum’s ad campaign. Oftentimes, their job overlaps heavily with public relations, as it does here. At the Page, the manager also deals with the museum’s public imagine, as well publicity events.
23: This is Kristin Friedrich, The director of media relations. Like a marketing manager, the director of media relations is heavily involved in public relations. They oversee the museum’s media strategy and try to control how the museum appears in the media. In addition, they represent the museum in the media as a spokesman. There job entails the handling relations for TV and radio as well as printed publication such as newspapers and magazines. Oftentimes, they will also issue press releases regarding the museum or one of it’s events. I was fortunate to go to the Tar pits on a day that a major press event was being held. A new fossil deposit and been discovered, including an almost complete mammoth skeleton. The site has been mostly excavated and it’s discoveries were bring presented. Ms. Clark and Ms. Friedrich were kind enough to let me tag along on the media tour and to answerer my questions afterwards, for which I am grateful.
24: And thus ends my museum photo essay. I was privileged to get to talk to many of the staff personally, and was able to learn a great deal from them. I would like to thank the staff of the page museum for taking the time to answerer my questions. I am ending the photo essay with someone who is not part of the staff, but definitely a fixture at the museum. For years now, this old cowboy has stood in front of the museum and played his banjo. I’m not sure why he chose this spot, but his presence certainly adds to the museum experience.