Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Author: jshepp02 (page 1 of 2)

Moves Toward Transformative Climate Change at the MFA

Transformation creates opportunities and problems that call for collective interpretation: What are we about? Who are we? What is important? What are our priorities?

(Eckel & Kezar, 2003a)

In May of 2019, a story of racist behavior directed at students of color at the MFA Boston broke on news sites across the internet. Seventh graders from Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, a charter middle school in Dorchester, MA, reported being targeted by racist speech from MFA staff and visitors and racial profiling by security. In the weeks since, the MFA has conducted investigations into the events, banned the visitors who made racist comments, opened discourse between museum and Davis Academy leadership, and organized community roundtables to begin the healing process.

Toward a More Inclusive MFA details the MFA’s responses to the Davis Academy visit and updates regarding MFA efforts regarding inclusion in the institution at large. Such transformation takes time and needs certain elements to foster change among individuals and at the institutional level. The five elements needed for transformative climate change as identified by Eckel & Kezar (2003b) are senior administrative support, collaborative leadership, flexible vision, faculty/staff development, and visible action. How have MFA efforts aligned with these five elements?

1. Senior Administrative Support

MFA leadership has been involved in these efforts from the beginning. Matthew Teitelbaum, director of the MFA, has been quoted often in stories from news sites. Museum-issued statements have come jointly from the chiefs of each department at the MFA. Makeeba McCreary, Chief of Learning and Community Engagement at the MFA, reached out to Davis Academy leadership herself to start the reparative process and has organized a series of roundtables on inclusion and race among educational and non-profit leaders in the Boston area.

2. Collaborative Leadership

As all information regarding this process is coming from MFA leadership, it appears that all of these measures are mandated by MFA leadership. Whether staff at different levels have had or will have input into the process is unknown. However, MFA leadership has openly collaborated with the community on this issue. They have been engaged with Davis Academy leadership since the incident and have opened discourse with community members regarding inclusion and racial equity.

3. Flexible Vision

Because museums serve the public at large, it behooves them to leave the specifics of “who for” and “how” open-ended. This way, museums can (theoretically) respond to trends with greater agility. The MFA does not have a clearly defined vision statement; instead, the mission is supplemented with statements in the MFA 2020 strategic plan and inclusion statements in Toward a More Inclusive MFA. In this time of action, MFA leadership should consider revisiting the mission. It was written in 1991 and, while flexible, it is old and places primary emphasis on caring for the collection. The idea is not to bring the focus so far away from collections, as Chet Orloff warns against in “Should Museums Change Our Mission and Become Agencies of Social Justice?” (Orloff, 2017); rather, it is to explicitly express that visitors are as valued as the objects within the museum’s walls.

4. Faculty/Staff Development

Among the first measures announced by the MFA were staff trainings on conflict resolution and unconscious bias. Trainings were scheduled for June and July and some have already been completed. Similar volunteer trainings are being scheduled, but the timeline there is unknown. Information on follow-up sessions is unavailable, but the MFA has also noted that they contracted external consultants to “expedite and evolve” ongoing training in which all staff is required to participate. (“Toward a More Inclusive MFA,” 2019)

Before the Davis Academy visit, the MFA had already been working toward diversifying its staff through new recruitment methods, including adding paid teen internships and mentorship programs. Further steps toward enabling individuals from diverse backgrounds to earn a meaningful, sustainable living at the MFA include raising wages, adding full-time entry-level positions (and therefore benefits), and changing the requirements of and language in job descriptions. The Design Museum Foundation offers an excellent example of inclusive language in a job posting:

We know there are great candidates who may not fit into what we’ve described above, or who have skills we haven’t thought of. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. We are committed to diversity and building an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds and ages. We especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities.

(“Marketing Manager – Foundation,” n.d.)

5. Visible Action

Towards a More Inclusive MFA is updated weekly with notes on completed trainings, results from investigations, and responses to news stories. People can also subscribe to the MFA email list to receive notice of updates as they happen. Some change can already be seen and heard in the museum more staff has been added to the galleries and school groups entrance. They have also changed the greeting used for school groups to be more welcoming and to avoid confusion with hurtful speech.

It goes without saying that the road toward healing and toward a more inclusive MFA will be long and challenging. The efforts so far are promising in terms of meeting the recommended elements for transformative climate change, though there is always room for improvement.

What are your thoughts on the matter?


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Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Here are the latest job postings across the country – and one from Canada! Happy hunting!

Northeast

Manager of Adult Education / Tower Hill Botanic Garden (Boylston, MA)
Mellon Curatorial Fellow / Williams College (Williamstown, MA)
Vice President of Shared Services / EcoTarium (Worcester, MA)

Mid-Atlantic

Senior Administrator (European Paintings) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Director, Domestic and International Studies / Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA)
Facilities Manager / American Civil War Museum (Richmond, VA)
Executive and Program Associate / American Federation of the Arts (New York, NY)
Chief Operating Officer / The Jewish Museum (New York, NY)
Manager, Museum Advancement / Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
Museum Registrar / Allentown Art Museum (Allentown, PA)
Chief Curator / B&O Railroad Museum (Baltimore, MD)
Archivist / B&O Railroad Museum (Baltimore, MD)
Associate/Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art / Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton, NJ)
Director of Donor and Volunteer Engagement / Smithsonian Institution, Office of Advancement (Washington, D.C.)
Director of Collections & Exhibitions Management / Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA)
Assistant-Associate Conservator / The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Curator of Folk Art / American Folk Art Museum (New York, NY)
Education Curator & Exhibitions Manager / Hunter College Art Galleries (New York, NY)
Program Specialist / Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (Washington, D.C.)
Curator / The Bronx Museum of the Arts (Bronx, NY)
Development Officer, Education Programs / The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)

Southeast

Communications and Graphic Design Specialist / Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens (Jacksonville, FL)
Chief Preparator / Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota, FL)
Sales Manager / Imagine Exhibitions (Atlanta, GA)
Museum Preparator / University of Mississippi (University, MS)
Development Director / Center for Craft (Asheville, NC)
Registrar / Barrett Barrera Projects (St. Louis, MO)

Midwest

Marketing & Communications Manager / Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum (Auburn, IN)
Interpretation Planner / Newfields (Indianapolis, IN)
Audience-Centered Program Coordinator / John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI)
Coordinator of Exhibitions / Western Michigan University, Richmond Center for Visual Arts (Kalamazoo, MI)
Community and Youth Educator / Kelsey Museum of Archaeology (Ann Arbor, MI)
Registrar / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Vice President, Programs and Operations / The Bakken Museum (Minneapolis, MN)

West

Grants Manager / Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
Collection Database Administrator / Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
Executive Director, NM History Museum / Palace of the Governors / New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (Santa Fe, NM)
Major Gifts Officer / Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito, CA)
Senior Philanthropy Officer / San Jose Museum of Art (San Jose, CA)
Curator of Education and Outreach Services / Aquarium of the Bay (San Francisco, CA)
President and CEO / The Amerind Foundation (Dragoon, AZ)
Associate Registrar / The San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego, CA)
Chief Financial & Operating Officer / San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, CA)

Canada

Assistant Curator, European Art / Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) (Toronto, Ontario)

Talking the Talk: Next Steps for the Salary Spreadsheet

You may have seen the Arts + All Museums Salary Transparency spreadsheet: a Google sheet of (at the time of this posting) nearly 2000 museum salaries from around the world. The nature of the data for each submission varies, but most entries include the name or type of museum, individual’s role and department, location, starting and ending salary, benefits, and required degree. Some individuals have also provided their gender and race. The bulk of the submissions come from museum professionals working in the United States, but the sheet also includes entries from countries such as Brazil, France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Kimberly Rose Drew (@museummammy) shared her story of undercompensation at the 2019 AAM Annual Meeting & Expo

Michelle Millar Fisher, an assistant curator in the European decorative arts and design department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and colleagues created the spreadsheet to encourage transparency across the field after being inspired by Kimberly Rose Drew’s story of how she learned she had been undercompensated for her work at The Met. They may have also been inspired by a similar spreadsheet created weeks earlier by Alison Green of Ask A Manager for the same purpose: to “take the mystery out of salaries.”

At this point, the spreadsheet has grown 1800% since its first day and the story has been picked up by news sites such as Artnews, Artnet, Business Insider, Nonprofit Quarterly, and others. Fisher expressed her hope to Artnews that the spreadsheet “… encourages a conversation between coworkers… If you don’t do it, everything stays the same. Sometimes it takes just one tiny action. Solidarity is the only way to effect great change.”

Where do we go from here? What can you do?

  1. If you haven’t yet, look over the spreadsheet. It’s grown from a 100-entry sheet of mainly curatorial submissions to a nearly 2,000-entry behemoth of positions in administration, collections, digital, education, operations, security, visitor services, and other departments. If you’re interested in downloading a copy of the data, you may be able to obtain one by emailing the contact provided on the front page of the sheet.
  2. Submit your own entry. The spreadsheet has been locked to preserve its data, but you can (and should!) add your information through this Google form. While it has grown impressively, we’re still nowhere near a full picture of the field.
  3. Be open with your colleagues. Workplace etiquette has long dictated to keep mum about one’s salary, but silence perpetuates the status quo. Transparency about salaries and benefits exposes both institution-based and field-wide inequities.
  4. Speak up. In a NY Times article about the Ask A Manager spreadsheet, Liz Dolan of the podcast “Safe for Work” and formerly of the marketing teams for Nike and the Oprah Winfrey Network suggests “[asking] for regular raises, noting that the earnings compounded over time [are] considerable.” She also notes, “Sometimes you have to be first and that is the scary part… It’s important to build that confidence.” Whether you are applying for or already in a museum job, use the data from this spreadsheet and other resources such as annual wage surveys to bolster your ask for pay you deserve. (You can find additional pay-related resources under Tab 3: Other Resources on the spreadsheet.)
  5. Team up. Asking for change can be intimidating. Lean on and lend your support to colleagues if you or they decide to speak up.
  6. Share up. Transparency is important; action on the the information provided is doubly so. Share the spreadsheet and other salary data with the people with pockets (or paying power): museum leadership, board members, HR, you name it. They need to understand that this is an issue to be taken seriously, and – hopefully – with our voices combined, we may move the needle.

Job Posting at Well-B Innovation Center

From the Well-B Innovation Center
800 Boylston Street, Prudential Center, Back Bay Arcade, Boston, MA

Position: Visitor Experience Associate

Reports to: Exhibit Manager, Innovation Department

About Well-B:

  • Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Well-B Innovation Center acts as a space to bring people together, learn from one another, share ideas, and create new solutions to improve health and healthcare. Recently opened in the Prudential Center in May 2019, the exhibit space will be rapidly changing, with new exhibits being developed every 4-8 months.

Position Summary:

  • The Visitor Experience Representative is essential to creating a positive, memorable experience where visitors learn and contribute to healthcare innovation. This position serves a dual-role by providing outstanding customer service and facilitating educational experiences in the exhibit space. Since the space is a unique balance of an educational experience and feedback forum, the Visitor Service Representative must be a flexible and empathetic thought partner for visitors.

Customer Service: 

  • Act as a resource for visitors by welcoming and orienting them to Well-B’s unique offerings.
  • Help communicate the connection between BCBSMA, Well-B, and current exhibit materials
  • Track daily visitation statistics, log interactions, and pass along feedback from visitors though associated paperwork.
  • Manage varied (ranging from high to low) volumes of visitor traffic while providing personal attention to individuals.
  • Assist Program Manager with set-up and facilitation during special events.
  • Provide immediate and appropriate responses to safety and security concerns.
  • Navigate potentially sensitive visitor interactions involving healthcare and health insurance.

Exhibit Interpretation:

  • Guide the visitor’s journey across experience points, encouraging exploration and play throughout.
  • Learn background material of the exhibit to help engage visitors with the content.
  • Provide positive and memorable experiences by facilitating programs and tours.
  • Recognize and act on opportunities to enhance a visitor’s engagement through one-on-one assistance or by facilitating short activities.
  • Maintain exhibit spaces by resetting and restocking materials.
  • Prepare materials for activities, programs and events.

Program Development:

  • Research future exhibit and activity topics
  • Use human-centered design to develop and prototype activities and programs for the exhibit.
  • Perform consistent evaluation of programs, activities, and exhibits in the space.

Qualifications:

  • Experience using human-centered design/design-thinking and/or a willingness to learn it
  • Interest in public health, technology, biology, education, and/or innovation.
  • Strong time management skills and ability to juggle multiple competing demands.
  • Personable and naturally enjoys helping others.
  • Curious and open to learning new skills, systems, and processes.
  • Ability to keep calm and composed under pressure.
  • Flexible and open to feedback.
  • Previous employment or volunteer experience in museum interpretation, education, facilitation, or customer service positions is preferred.
  • This job requires workers to be on their feet for a large majority of the day.

Schedule:

  • 9:30am-5:30pm, 4 weekdays
  • 9:30am-5:30pm, 3-4 weekdays
  • 9:30am-5:30pm, 2-3 weekdays
  • Occasional evening, morning, or weekend events
  • Start date: Week of July 8, 2019.

Pay:

  • $18/hr

To Apply:

  • If interested, send your resume, cover letter, and availability to Elaine Mondy, Exhibit Manager, at elainem@well-b.com.
  • Applicants will be accepted along a rolling deadline.

Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Here are the postings from the week of May 19. Happy hunting!

Northeast

Museum Registrar/Collections Manager / Mount Holyoke College Art Museum [South Hadley, MA]
Associate Curator, Public Art and Permanent Collection / MIT List Visual Arts Center [Cambridge, MA]
Clerk/Assistant to the Director / Historic Newton [Newton, MA]
Membership Communications Officer / Museum of Science [Boston, MA]
Biologist II, Rescue & Rehabilitation / New England Aquarium [Boston, MA]
Payroll Administrator and Gift Accountant / Peabody Essex Museum [Salem, MA]
Educational Programs Intern (Paid or Course Credited) / The Mary Baker Eddy Library [Boston, MA]
IFPDA Curatorial Internship at the Harvard Art Museums / Harvard Art Museums [Cambridge, MA]
Digital Marketing Associate / Old North Church & Historic Site [Boston, MA]
Historical Interpreter/Actor / Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum [Boston, MA]
Gallery Intern – Fall & Spring 2019 / Cambridge Art Association [Cambridge, MA]
Sales Associate / The Institute of Contemporary Art [Boston, MA]

Mid-Atlantic

Manager, Visitor Services / Eastern State Penitentiary History Site [Philadelphia, PA]
Collections & Exhibitions Technician / The Jewish Museum [New York, NY]
Principal Gifts Advancement Associate / Smithsonian Institution, Office of Advancement [Washington, D.C.]
Kress Interpretive Fellowship / Colgate University [Hamilton, NY]
Development Database & Gift Processing Manager / The Phillips Collection [Washington, D.C.]
Public Programs Manager / Architect of the Capitol [Washington, D.C.]
Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs / Smithsonian Institution – National Museum of American History [Washington, D.C.]
Collections Specialist, European Paintings / The Metropolitan Museum of Art [New York, NY]
Assistant Director of Annual Giving / Baltimore Museum of Art [Baltimore, MD]
Systems Administrator / Baltimore Museum of Art [Baltimore, MD]
Head Preparator / Glenstone Museum [Potomac, MD]
Museum Director / National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors [Columbia, PA]

Southeast

Director of Operations / The Southern Museum [Kennesaw, GA]
Accounting Manager / Frist Art Museum [Nashville, TN]
Chief Preparator / Vero Beach Museum of Art [Vero Beach, FL]
Membership Manager / Sarasota Art Museum – Ringling College of Art + Design [Sarasota, FL]
Manager of Museum Retail / Sarasota Art Museum – Ringling College of Art + Design [Sarasota, FL]
Director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMMC) and Curator of the Marine Corps / National Museum of the Marine Corps [Quantico, VA]
Coordinator of Docents & Interns / High Museum of Art [Atlanta, GA]
Museum Director / Rogers Historical Museum [Rogers, AR]
Social Media & Communications Specialist / Hattiesburg Convention Commission [Hattiesburg, MI]
Director and Curator Academic Art Gallery / Cress Gallery of Art, University of Tennessee Chattanooga [Chattanooga, TN]
Inventory Technician – Costume and Textiles Collection / The Valentine [Richmond, VA]

Midwest

Director- Space Foundation Discovery Center / Space Foundation Discovery Center [Colorado Springs, CO]
Curator, Draper Natural History Museum / Buffalo Bill Center of the West [Cody, WY]
Lead Preparator / Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art [Kansas City, MO]
Barbara Brown Chair of Ornithology / Science Museum of Minnesota [Saint Paul, MN]
Creative Communications Coordinator / Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum [East Lansing, MI]
Curator of Interpretation / Wyoming State Museum [Cheyenne, WY]
Curatorial Assistant, Architecture & Design / Denver Art Museum [Denver, CO]
Director of Information Technology / History Nebraska [Lincoln, NE]
Historic Preservation Outreach Coordinator / History Nebraska [Lincoln, NE]

West

Manager of Annual Giving / Hammer Museum [Los Angeles, CA]
Manager of Individual Giving / Hammer Museum [Los Angeles, CA]
Curator of Textiles and Fashion / Honolulu Museum of Art [Honolulu, HI]
Individual Giving Manager / Bay Area Discovery Museum [Sausalito, CA]
Director of Development & Marketing / Sonoma Valley Museum [Sonoma, CA]
Associate Curator / Petersen Automotive Museum [Los Angeles, CA]
Senior Leadership Gifts Officer / Asian Art Museum [San Francisco, CA]
Exhibits Curator / Sealaska Heritage Institute [Juneau, AK]
Exhibitions Design Manager / Heard Museum [Phoenix, AZ]
Registrar / Santa Barbara Museum of Art [Santa Barbara, CA]
Museum & Art Center Manager / Moses Lake Museum & Art Center [Moses Lake, WA]
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