Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Author: Dominique T. Marcial (page 1 of 4)

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Forging your Own Career Path in the Museum World

Forging your Own Career Path in the Museum World

            As museum professionals, most of us are aware that our career paths do not follow a straight line. Unlike the majority of the corporate sector, where companies may provide a straight trajectory from entry, to associate, to manager, etc, career routes in the museum world may feel spotty and unconnected. There is often not a straight path to promotion and mobility, and it is up to us as independent professionals to determine where our next career step lies, whether that be expanding our roles in a current institution of employment, or transferring to another museum entirely to fulfill our goals.

Here are a few points to chew upon when considering how to plan your museum career.

      To begin, create a mission statement. What are your burning desires for your career? What are you passionate about? And what are the goals you want to reach, not only for yourself, but for others through your work? Write down these goals into a mission statement, and then just as a museum works continuously toward its mission statement, you too must vow to work within the frame of your mission statement. Read your mission over and over and stick to it. Put it like glue into your brain and analyze how your career motives and tasks fit into your mission.

      Grab some friends! The power of the people you surround yourself with is extraordinary. Meet with other museum professionals who share like-minded interests to discuss your career path and how each of you can support and learn from one another. Talking with people is also a great way to network!!! So, if you are on the hunt for a new job to fulfill that mission of yours, surround yourself with positive museum people and talk.

      Connect the dots. A lot of times it is easier to connect the dots in life in a retrospective view, whether that be for a career, relationship, etc. So, take stock of your dots. How did you come to be in the career position you are in? What would you change about the past career steps you took? How can you learn from these patterns to further your career in a direction you want to go? Connect those dots and learn from them so you can move forward in your career mission.

  Don’t be afraid to make a pivot. If you’re working in development, but long to work in education(or vice versa), make your mission, network, and connect those dots to make it happen. We all have such individualized career paths in the museum field, so we have to make our own individualized plans to achieve our personal goals. Whether it is moving to a new museum to start a new job, or expanding the current job you are in, make the path and stick to it with conviction.

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Flowers Through Facebook: Reuniting 5 of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”

Can you think of a flower that better depicts a warm, late-summer afternoon than a sunflower? The curators of museums in Philadelphia, London, Amsterdam, Munich, and Tokyo didn’t think so this past Monday, August 14, when they decided to host a live social media event that brought together five of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers.”

A curator from each  of the 5 museums museum gave a 15 minute speech on the “Sunflowers” piece in their collections through Facebook live. The event began in London at 12:50 pm and then continued to Amsterdam, Munich, Philadelphia, and concluded in Tokyo.

The speeches among the curators were not solely lecture based. They prompted dialogue between the curators across the globe. For example, in the Munich segment, the curator prompted a question for the Philadelphia curator, asking how the “Sunflowers” in Munich relate to the “Sunflowers” in Philadelphia. The answer here was that both the Munich and Philadelphia versions have blue backgrounds, and the exact same arrangement of 14 flowers. Jennifer Thompson, the Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art noted that the Philadelphia painting has more poignant colors than the Munich painting, and the vase of the Philadelphia painting is darker than the vases found in the other four “Sunflowers.”

With all that considered, you could say, social media does it again! Bringing together a virtual experience that encompassed 5 of Van Gogh’s most famous works. Obviously this type of virtual exhibit and collaboration makes the information and presentation of the pieces more accessible to an array of audiences. Yet there were some improvements that could have been made to make this event more easily available to the public.

  1. Rather than using  individual Facebook streams for each museum, perhaps provide one consistent video or stream, rather than having to hop around to 5 different museum Facebook sites.
  2. Provide the public with specific links to watch the talks and the virtual gallery with the five paintings.
  3. Offer an outlet besides Facebook to post the videos so that those individuals without Facebook can also be a part of the conversation.
  4.  Initiate outlet or forum for audience members to ask questions and engage in the discussion.

Despite these recommendations, the idea of bringing together such iconic artwork is novel, innovative, and creative. If these five museums decide to team up again, or if other museums decide to try this type of virtual tour and lecture inth efuture, I am sure they can continually improve on this virtual experience to make it more accessible and participatory for audiences.

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