Re: Museum careers

Stephanie Folse (
7 Sep 1995 16:33:17 -0600

In article <42jbd4$>,
Peggy Hall <> wrote:
>Karen Elizabeth Topping ( wrote:
>: Hi. I have been considering a career in museum work. I would like
>: to be involved in conceptual development of exhibits - especially culturally
>: related ones. It has been difficult to find out anything substantive about
>I've been a volunteer at 5 museums (over a period of about 10 years). It
>has been my experience that the type of job you are interested in has not
>been a job category at the museums I've worked for. Several of these
>museums have workshops where things are built. The people in the
>workshops do a variety of jobs in a variety of fields. The people they
>work for are the experts in the individual fields. Several of the
>experts I worked for were PhD's who taught at local universities and
>spent part of their time working at the museum. The concepts were
>developed by the experts in the field working with artists and builders
>or the people in the workshops.

Hmm. I'm not quite getting where you're going here, but it seems to me
that what the original poster is looking at is a position where she can
do the developing of the exhibit, not necessarily the construction and
installation, but all the groundwork. In larger museums, departments are
separate and work together in teams on exhibits, with the curatorial
department doing the main research. The conceptual work about the
exhibit is done with input from everyone ("ok, we want to put up an
exhibit on Lakota cradleboards, the curatorial dept will provide the info
on them, the collections management will provide the objects, the
educators will design the outreach program, and the exhibits department
will put it together and construct the cases. Now, let's get together
and design us an exhibit!").

If the original poster is interested in primarily the research, then she
should look into curatorial work, but in today's market, you really need
a PhD in the collection's field to be able to get a job as a curator in
any but the smallest of museums.

Smaller museums, on the other hand, allow you to become much more
involved with every aspect of an exhibit. I prefer them because you can
do everything from research to collections care to educational
programming to exhibit design and installation, and you can keep a much
better grasp on what you want the exhibit to be.

Stephanie Folse

<*> || <*>
+ Museum Studies grad student|| "Will you cut that out? +
+ Department of Anthropology || Everybody knows Isz don't have eyeballs." +
<*> University of Denver ||====>I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth<*>