Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

A Plea for More Evaluation

Last week, Jennifer wrote about “what is a museum?” and this week, I’ll be jumping off of that by writing about how our visitors see museums and how we can understand their expectations. This post is basically an encouragement of more evaluation in our practice to better our understanding of visitors and their expectations of museums. While summative evaluation sometimes appears in the museum field, I think that formative evaluation is just as useful, but less common, in museum practice.

For the Tufts’ Museum Evaluation course this summer, each student had to formulate an evaluation plan to determine what visitors associated with museums and what the visitors expected to gain from their museum visits. My evaluation resulted in most people expecting the atmosphere to be quiet and contemplative while they observed old objects from afar. These answers echoed John Cotton Dana’s commentary of the museum in his book The Gloom of the Museum in 1917. This idea of the museum as a – well – gloomy steward of static objects has clearly survived, despite the fact that many institutions have wonderful programming and amazing, relatable stories that they tell.
Of course, in some cases, a reverent museum atmosphere might be the best choice for a specific institution, but it certainly isn’t the only choice. Institutions can also use evaluation with their marketing to make sure that their audiences know about the programming that already exists.

Mostly, institutions should be responsive to their surrounding communities, and they can use evaluation to do so. Specifically, formative evaluation allows the institution to gather information about the needs and desires of the community before pouring time and money into projects. Summative evaluation can provide useful information about success of the project in meeting its goals, but formative evaluation really provides the opportunity to set goals that are in line with what visitors hope to see. Formative evaluation also makes it clear that the institution values the input of their visitors because the organization is making a concerted effort to gain insight into the wants and needs of the people who it is serving.

My class on evaluation and my interviewees’ views of museums have encouraged me to incorporate more formative evaluation into my practice, which I have found to be incredibly useful, and I encourage you to do the same!

Weekly Jobs Roundup

There have been so many jobs this week. Here are the jobs for the week of August 17th. Best of luck, hunters!

Northeast: 

Program Director (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT) 

Davison Art Center Registrar and Collections Manager (Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT) 

Development Officer (Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT) 

Public Program Coordinator and Lead Interpreter (Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT) 

Manager of Education and Public Engagement (Newport Restoration Foundation, Newport, RI) 

Assistant Registrar for Exhibitions (Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA) 

Director of Advancement (Concord Museum, Concord, MA) 

Engagement Manager, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (The Trustees of Reservations, Lincoln, MA) 

Museum Assistant Registrar (Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VT) 

Mid-Atlantic: 

Director (National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC) 

Director of Institutional Relations (Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, DC) 

Education Manager (Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, PA) 

Director of Volunteer Engagement (Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA) 

Associate Curator (Regniald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, Baltimore, MD) 

Assistant Registrar (Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD) 

Curator of Jewish Culture/Judaica (The Jewish Museum, New York, NY) 

Assistant Curator (Japan Society, New York, NY) 

Assistant Curator (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum & Foundation, New York, NY) 

Oral Historian (Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art, New York, NY) 

Curatorial Assistant (The Olana Partnership, Hudson, NY) 

Assistant Manager of Interpretation (Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, DE) 

South: 

Director of Programs (George Ranch Historical Park, Richmond, TX) 

Curatorial Assistant (Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX) 

Art Collection Registrar (Miami Dade College, Miami, FL) 

Registrar (Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL) 

Director of Museums (Florida Department of State, Tallahassee, FL) 

Exhibition Coordinator (Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL) 

Head of Creative Aging and Lifelong Learning (High Museum of Art Atlanta, GA) 

Midwest: 

Executive Director (South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society, El Dorado, AR) 

Executive Director (Organization of American Historians, Bloomington, IN) 

Public Service Executive – Curriculum Specialist (Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS) 

Exhibitions Registrar (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL) 

Communications and Development Coordinator (Oberlin Heritage Center, Oberlin, OH) 

Director of Development (Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL) 

West: 

Executive Director (Foss Waterway Seaport, Tacoma, WA) 

Executive Director (Coos History Museum, Coos Bay, OR) 

Managing Director of Education (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles, CA) 

Director of Planned Giving (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA) 

Museum Director (Brigham City Museum of Art & History/ Box Elder Museum of Natural History, Brigham City, UT) 

Internship Posting at the Harvard Art Museums

From the Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Fall 2019 Registrar’s Office Internship
Collections Management, Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums’ Department of Collections Management is accepting applications for an Intern to assist with a variety of projects in the Registrar’s Office.

About the Harvard Art Museums:

The Harvard Art Museums, ranked among the world’s leading art institutions, is comprised of three museums (Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler) and four research centers (Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis). The museums have played a leading role in the development of art history, conservation, and conservation science, and in the evolution of the art museum as an institution. Through research, teaching, professional training, and public education, the museums strive to advance the understanding and appreciation of art. Integral to Harvard University and the wider community, the museums and research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and the public.

Description:

This internship will provide an introduction to the practical aspect of managing fine art collections in a major museum and introduce the successful candidate to the museums’ cataloguing and temporary loan processes. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to:

  • Work alongside Registrars for the Collection – Katie Press and Karoline Mansur – to assist with the management, archiving and possible digitization of collections management records.
  • Work closely with the Registrars to archive temporary loan records, re-house original museum documents for safer access, and assist with other ongoing projects as needed.
  • Gain experience tracking museum objects through research into original collection files and the electronic collection database The Museums System (TMS).
  • Please note that this internship is unpaid.

Term:

  • September – December 2019 with flexible start and end dates.
  • 8-16 hours (1-2 full days) a week between 9am – 5pm (Mon., Thurs and Friday are preferred)

Location:

This internship would take place at our Somerville Research Facility, 200 Inner Belt Rd., Somerville, MA. There is free parking onsite as well as a complimentary shuttle that leaves from the Museums in Cambridge every hour. More details are available here.

Qualifications:

  • The student must receive credit for this internship in order to be eligible.
  • The internship is open to graduate or undergraduate students.
  • Comfortable working in Excel, Word, and with data entry. Training in TMS will be provided.
  • A willingness to learn, ask questions, and accept feedback is essential.

How to Apply:

Please forward a letter of interest and resume to Claire Burns, Collections Management Coordinator at claire_burns@harvard.edu

Application Deadline: August 27, 2019

Weekly Jobs Round-Up

We’ve got a long list for you today – here are the job listings from the last week and a half. Happy hunting!

Northeast:

Senior Manager, Board Relations and Artistic Planning / Handel and Haydn Society (Boston, MA)
Sanctuary Director: Nantucket Sanctuaries / Mass Audobon (Lincoln, MA)
Human Resources Business Partner, Hiring and Compensation / The Trustees of Reservations (Boston, MA)
Leadership & Planned Giving Coordinator / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Brain Building Together (BBT) Explorer / Discovery Museum (Acton, MA)
Director of Education & Volunteer Programs / Zoo New England (Boston, MA)
Adult Learning Fellow / The Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA)
Education Associate I, Live Presentations / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Teaching Artists – Workshops Winter/Spring 2020 / Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA)
Education Associate / Old South Meeting House (Boston, MA)
Civics Education and Visitor Experience Internship / Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (Boston, MA)
Development Assistant II / Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA)
Program Coordinator / Hancock Shaker Village (Pittsfield, MA)
Program Officer: Community Initiative / Mass Cultural Council (Boston, MA)
Educator / Old North Church & Historic Site (Boston, MA)
Old North (Clough House) Costumed Educators / Old North Church & Historic Site (Boston, MA)
Executive Director / Bennington Museum (Bennington, VT)
Director of Collections / Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
Kemper Assistant/Associate Curator of Academic Affairs and Exhibitions / Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)

Mid-Atlantic:

Curator / US Navy Memorial Visitor Center (Washington D.C.)
Museum Exhibit Technician / Dumbarton Oaks (Washington, D.C.)
Marketing and Public Relations Director / Biggs Museum of American Art (Dover, DE)
Collections Database Administrator / Penn Museum: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Philadelphia, PA)
Development Officer for Education Programs / The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Senior Managing Editor for Public Programs and Creative Practive / The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Associate Curator (Programs) / Rutgers University – Express Newark (Newark, NJ)
Development Associate, Corporate Relations / American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)
Kress Interpretive Fellowship / Smithsonian Art Museum (Washington, D.C.)
Vice President, Education and Engagement / Museum of the City of New York (New York, NY)
Associate Curator of Media Arts / Museum of the Moving Image (New York, NY)
Community Engagement Coordinator / Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Associate Registrar / Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Deputy Director and Gail Engelberg Director of Education and Public Engagement / Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum & Foundation (New York, NY)
Curator of Jewish Culture/Judaica / The Jewish Museum (New York, NY)

South:

Development Director / The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum (Fort Smith, AR)
Membership Manager / Sarasota Art Museum – Ringling College of Art + Design (Sarasota, FL)
History Museum Curator / City of El Paso, El Paso Museum of History (El Paso, TX)
Museum Membership & Outreach Coordinator / City of El Paso, El Paso Museum of History (El Paso, TX)
Chickasaw Heritage Center Museum Director / The Chickasaw Nation (Tupelo, MS)
Collections Manager / The Hermitage (Hermitage, TN)
Exhibit Manager / The Corpus Christi Museum (Corpus Christi, TX)
Director / North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
Deputy Director of Operations / George Mason’s Gunston Hall (Mason Neck, VA)
Curator / College of Visual Arts and Design: University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
Director of Education and Outreach / The Bryan Museum (Galveston, TX)
Director of Development / Nauticus Foundation (Norfolk, VA)
The Nancy and Tim Hanley Associate Curator of Contemporary Art / Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX)
The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art / Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX)
President & CEO / Exploration Place, Inc. (Wichita, KS)
Exhibits Researcher / Space Center Houston (Houston, TX)
Assistant Curator / Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (Pine Bluff, AR)
Director of Development / Hermitage Museum & Gardens (Norfolk, VA)

Midwest:

President & CEO / DuPage Children’s Museum (DCM) (Naperville, IL)
Museum Manager / 21c Museum Hotel (Chicago, IL)
Preparation and Security Assistant / Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (St. Louis, MO)
Exhibit Developer / Indianapolis Children’s Museum (Indianapolis, IN)
Director of Marketing & Communications / United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum (Colorado Springs, CO)
Director of Guest Services / United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum (Colorado Springs, CO)
Director of Content Strategy / Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Membership Representative / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland, OH)
Director, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland, OH)
Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Engagement / Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis, MS)
Paper Care Specialist / Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI)
Facilities Manager, History Center / Minnesota Historical Society (MN)
Senior Curator / Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL)
President, Director, and CEO / Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH)
President and CEO / Terra Foundation for American Art (Chicago, IL)
Archivist / Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum (Colorado Springs, CO)

West:

Executive Director / New Mexico Museum of Art (Santa Fe, NM)
Programming and Outreach Assistant / Zócalo Public Square (Los Angeles, CA)
Database Manager, Senior / Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona (Tucson, Arizona)
Exhibit Project Manager / California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA)
Development Director / National Hot Rod Association (Glendora, CA)
Asian Art Curatorial Research Fellow / Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA)
Museum Educator / IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe, NM)
Associate Director of Visitor Experience / Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, CA)
Manager of Family Engagement / Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, CA)
Associate Registrar or Registrar / Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA)
Director of Philanthropy / The High Desert Museum (Bend, OR)
Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture / Autry Museum of the American West (Los Angeles, CA)
Curator of Western History / Autry Museum of the American West (Los Angeles, CA)
Associate Editor / Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
Executive Director / San Bernardino County Museum Association (Redlands, CA)

What is a museum – and what goes in it?

As students and museum professionals, we are constantly revisiting the question of, “What is a museum?” We ask it of ourselves and of the visitors we serve – a quick search on Youtube, for example, yields such entertaining videos as What is a Museum? from The Brain Scoop and Ask the Kids: What is a Museum? from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

I gathered a few more answers to the question this week as I taught summer camp at the Dallas Museum of Art. Titled The Museum of ME!, this camp introduced children ages 6-8 to different museum jobs and how exhibitions are created (thanks for the inspiration, Tufts course on Exhibition Planning!). By the end of the week, campers took on the roles of curator, designer, conservator, registrar, preparator, and educator as they developed and fabricated their own mini museums.

To start us off right, our very first activity was a big camp brainstorm to come up with a collective understanding of, “What is a museum?” Each camper and teacher drew a picture of something they believed “goes” in a museum, which we then taped to a big butcher paper drawing of an imaginary museum. You can see some of the responses below – each is a tiny representation of our museum interests and priorities. A few might even make you laugh.

Unsurprisingly, my contribution was… summer camp!

What might you add to our museum? What is a museum to you?

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