Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Author: dfoste04 (page 1 of 2)

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) 

Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Happy hunting!

Northeast: 

Collection Registrar (Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME) 

Development Manager (Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA) 

Stewardship Specialist (Museum of Science, Boston, MA) 

Executive Director (Bedford Historical Society, Bedford, MA) 

School Programs Marketing Assistant (Discovery Museum, Acton, MA) 

Coordinator of School Partnerships and Outreach Programs (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA) 

Public Programs Manager (Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA) 

Grant Writer (Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA) 

Mid-Atlantic: 

Museum Database Administrator (New York Historical Society, New York, NY) 

Manager, Institutional Advancement (American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY) 

Midwest: 

Executive Director (Holocaust Museum & Learning Center, St. Louis, MO) 

Associate Exhibit Developer (Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN) 

Community Engagement Manager (Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI) 

South: 

Chief Curator (Henry Morrison Flagler Museum,  Palm Beach, FL) 

Director of Education (The Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas, TX) 

Director of Education (Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC) 

West: 

Exhibit Designer (Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, WA) 

Digital Asset Manager (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA) 

Historic Sites in Danger

With climate change as a constant impending threat, historic sites must consider their future sustainability with regards to the environment. Sea levels are rising, and many historic sites are located close to harbors and ports, which used to be the economic centers of many towns. However, this puts them in the prime position to be damaged by the environment. While the historic house field is very aware of this problem, it is something that requires continuous attention.Personally, this issue has been on my mind because I am interning at the Nantucket Historical Association this summer, and this problem is something that the entire island will face in the next several hundred years. However, some historic sites have come up with creative solutions to combat the sea level rise, as well as other natural issues. 

  1. The Sankaty lighthouse on Nantucket was moved inland in 2007 because of eroding shorelines and a terrible storm. Mounted on rails, the entire lighthouse was pushed farther inland in one piece to preserve it for longer. While this solution saves the lighthouse for now, it is not a permanent solution to the problem, and it will probably need to be moved again in the future.  
  1. Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois experiences flooding that has damaged many different parts of the property, including textiles and flooring. The National Trust owns the house, and they are very open on their website about the different methods that they considered when trying to redirect the flood water. In conjunction with Robert Silman Associates, they explored five different options before finally choosing a system that will raise the house up temporarily when the area floods, and then the house can be returned to its original state afterwards. This option preserves both the architect’s vision and the physical house.  
  1. Many houses in Newport, RI are experiencing the same issues of coastline erosion, including the Christopher Townsend House that the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) owns. A recent New York Times article highlighted some possible ways to adapt historic houses for the future. The Townsend House currently employs a method of “dry-proofing,” which involves sandbags to block flooding from the house as well as a pump to keep water from standing in the basement. Some other suggestions for the house include replumbing houses so the water diverts underneath the house and is drained elsewhere, a cistern under the house to collect the water, or a way of floating the house using guide posts.  

We may not be able to change what has already happened to our planet, but we can at least be as prepared as possible to try to adapt with these environmental hazards, as well as advocate for conservation and environmentally sustainable practices. Many historic sites are organizing conferences and trying to set an example of innovative planning while also maintaining the integrity of their sites.  

Weekly Job Round-Up

This week has been full of job postings. Best of luck to our hunters! These are the postings for the week of June 16:

Northeast: 

Director of Conservation Partnerships (The New England Aquarium, Boston, MA) 

Director (Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts, Lynn, MA) 

Director of Finance and Administration (Discovery Museum, Acton, MA) 

Executive Director (Museum L-A, Lewiston, ME) 

Manager of Adult Education (Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA) 

Research Communications Associate II (Museum of Science, Boston, MA) 

Collections Assistant/ Exhibit Preparator (Concord Museum, Concord, MA) 

Development Officer (Concord Museum, Concord, MA) 

Astor Curator and Department Head, Printed Books and Bindings (The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY) 

Director of Philanthropy (New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA)  

Planning and Logistics Administrator (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA) 

Assistant Director of Procurement (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA) 

Art Educator (MassArt Art Museum, Boston, MA) 

Digital Marketing Associate (Old North Church & Historic Site) 

Senior Institutional Giving Officer (Historic New England, Boston, MA) 

Manager of Development Events (John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Boston, MA) 

Museum Partnerships Growth Associate (Cuseum, Boston, MA) 

 Historical Interpreter/Actor (Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston, MA) 

Program Coordinator (Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA) 

Gallery Learning Museum Educators (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA) 

Family and Art Lab Programs Coordinator (The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA) 

Teaching Artists (Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA) 

Senior Assistant Director, Prospect Research and Management (American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY) 

Manager of Adult Programming (Jackie Robinson Foundation, New York, NY) 

Senior Curator (Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY) 

Executive Director (Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY) 

Director of Development (Seward House Museum, Auburn, NY) 

Executive Director (Nantucket Preservation Trust, Nantucket, MA) 

Midwest: 

Senior Curator (The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI) 

Bloch Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow (The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO) 

Educator, Adult Learning (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL) 

Community Arts Program Coordinator (John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI) 

Outreach Coordinator (John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI) 

Director – Library and Museum Manager (Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth) 

Museum Associate Preparator (University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK) 

Curator of Public Programs (Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Cleveland, OH) 

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL) 

Vice President, Design & Exhibits (John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL) 

Senior Manager, Collections, Education, and Operations (Missouri Botanical Garden, Chesterfield, MO) 

K-12 Programs Coordinator (Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO) 

Park Superintendent III (Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, North Platte, NE) 

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

West: 

Director of Education (Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ) 

Vice President, Education and Engagement (San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA) 

Deputy Director, Advancement (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA) 

Director, Donor Relations (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA) 

Assistant VP, School and Family Programs (LACMA, Los Angeles, CA) 

Executive Director (Museum of Western Colorado, Gran Junction, CO) 

Director, K-College Programs (The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles, CA) 

Education Director (California Museum, Sacramento, CA) 

Curator of Latin Music (The GRAMMY Museum, Los Angeles, CA) 

Curator of Education and Interpretation (Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA) 

Executive Director (Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM) 

Curator of Interpretation (Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne, WY) 

Education & Public Engagement Manager (San Diego Museum of Man, CA) 

Southern: 

Vice President of Education (Orlando Science Center, Orlando, FL) 

The Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art (Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX) 

ICAA Digital Humanities Specialist (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX) 

Director of Development (The Children’s Museum of the Upstaate, Greenville, SC

Executive Director (Stonewall National Museum & Archives, Fort Lauderdale, FL) 

Education and Programs Coordinator (Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, TX) 

Director of Development (National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Pooler, GA) 

Chief Philanthropy Officer (The Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas, TX) 

Mid-Atlantic: 

Museum Deputy Directory for Education and Special Programs (Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons, MD) 

Chief Curator (Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ) 

Museum Curator of Latinx Political History (Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.) 

Assistant Director for Education, Outreach, & Visitor Services (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.) 

Director of Guest Experience and Operations (Liberty Hall Museum, Union, NJ) 

Curator of Community and Academic Programs (Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover, DE) 

Director of Inclusion (American Alliance of Museums, Arlington, VA) 

Historic Site Manager (NOVA Parks, Alexandria, VA) 

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