The Wider World: Design with the Public in Mind

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on July 16, 2014 in The Wider World |

by Tegan Kehoe

Have you seen the news? An activist group in London has begun pouring concrete over metal spikes that deter people from loitering and homeless people from sleeping in certain areas.. As it turns out, the field of designing to influence behavior is a pretty developed one. Designers install all kinds of features to make a space inhospitable to loitering. Some features look formidable, such as spikes and rough metal, but others, such as stone fill and undulating surfaces, are passed off as decorative elements. Some people say all design aims to influence behavior, whether it’s architecture or a mobile app.  

folding cane stool


The design choices we make when trying to predict and guide the flow of people in exhibits and other museum spaces are also a form of design to influence behavior, although we may not think of them that way. You don’t put seating in an area where you want people to move along quickly. You make the font bigger when you want to make sure the audience reads something. I think that museum students and professionals could learn a lot by studying how urban planners think about design, to get an better understanding of the choices we make and how to make them.



First, there are the most direct applications. I work in downtown Boston, an area which has a homelessness problem. Until the city addresses the problem or provides adequate shelter, it’s pretty much a given that people will sleep in the covered stairwells leading into our building and many others in the neighborhood. If I had the luxury of designing a museum building, I would add an overhang with seating and a water fountain on one side, so that people who need protection from the elements overnight don’t sleep in front of doorways. It could even be heated in winter; solar-powered heated bus shelters have been around for years now. It would be a win-win, since we wouldn’t have to clear out the doorways each morning and people in need would be just a little safer and more comfortable. I don’t know if there is a solution that can be appropriately retrofit to our eighteenth-century building, but I’m going to keep thinking.



Learning from urban planning’s design for behavior can also be done in more creative ways. Museum researchers who do visitor studies look at which visitor spend time where, and with what features. Shouldn’t we all be doing that? This would incorporate a lot of existing knowledge, for example, if you want people to stay, make them comfortable, give them restrooms and seats. It would simply be a new way of looking at what we know and what we want to learn. It’s often valuable to start an exhibit planning process by asking ourselves “What do we want visitors to get out of this?” but shouldn’t we also ask, “How do we want them to behave?” As long as the outcome of this discussion is about supporting and encouraging visitors in good behavior, rather than rearranging the galleries into a panopticon with the guards at the center, I think it’s worth trying.



Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on July 13, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

Research/Evaluation Associate [Museum of Science, Boston]

Education Coordinator [McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center] 

Director of Marketing [Newport Art Museum]

Oral History Intern [Nantucket Historical Association] 

Museum Registrar (temporary) [Bellarmine Museum of Art] 

Collections and Archives Manager [Saco Museum] 

Deputy Director, Collections, Research & Exhibitions [Corning Museum of Glass] 

Executive Director [Boothbay Railway Village] 

Executive Director [Montshire Museum of Science] 

Entry Level Research Historian [History Associates Incorporated]

Director of Exhibits [The Heath Museum] 

Executive Director [Palo Alto History Museum] 

Senior Museum Collections Manager [History Associates Incorporated] 

Project Coordinator/Collections Manager Soldier’s Memorial Project [Missouri History Museum] 

Curatorial Assistant [Thomas Jefferson Foundation - Monticello]

History Museum Manager [City of Tempe]

Head of Interpretation and Participatory Experiences [Minneapolis Institute of Arts] 

Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs [Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University] 

Associate Curator [Akron Art Museum] 

Assistant Art Curator [The Museums of Los Gatos] 

Manager of Visitor Services [Lower East Side Tenement Museum]

Preparator/Curatorial Assistant [Monterey Museum of Art]

Curator of Contemporary Art [Phoenix Art Museum] 

Curator of Collections & Exhibitions [Lauren Rogers Museum of Art]

Executive Director [Dubuque Museum of Art]

Research Assistant / Greek and Roman Art [The Met] 

Collections Manager [Franklin and Marshall College] 

Collections Manager/Registrar [Denison Museum]

Public Programs Manager [Bay Area Discovery Museum] 

Education Manager [Putnam Museum and Science Center] 

Chief Curator [Anchorage Museum] 

Executive Director [The Society of Arts and Crafts] 

Gallery Learning Museum Educator [Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]

Curator of Academic Projects [Rose Art Museum] 

Collections Manager [Mingei International Museum] 


Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on July 6, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

Curatorial Assistant [The Buffalo Bill Center of the West]

William and Sarah Ross Soter (Associate) Curator of Photography [Columbus Museum of Art]

Collections Manager [The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Director of Education and Public Programs [The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza]

Chief Preparator [Yerba Buena Center for the Art]

Visitor Services Manager [National 9/11 Memorial and Museum]

The Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow [RISD Museum]

Education Manager [Putnam Museum and Science Center]

Deputy Director Collections, Research and Exhibitions [Corning Museum of Glass]

Marketing & Events Director [Old South Meeting House]

Manager of Exhibitions and Gallery Education [New Art Center in Newton]

Manager of Science Education [Brooklyn Children's Museum]

Director of Education [Elkhorn Valley Museum]

Development Coordinator [deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum]

UMFA Coordinator of Educator Programs [Utah Museum of Fine Arts]

UMFA Coordinator of Educator Programs [Utah Museum of Fine Arts]


Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on July 1, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

- Manager, Maritime Artisans Program [Plimoth Plantation]

- Educator Specialist [Mystic Seaport Museum]

- Curator [Natick Historical Society]

- Director of Education and Public Programs [Concord Museum]

- Manager of Family & Youth Programs [deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum]

- Associate Preparator [deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum]

- Education Director [American Indian Studies Museum and Research Center]

- Manager of Content and Curriculum, Secondary Level Programs [American Museum of Natural History]

- Adult Programs Coordinator [Peabody Essex Museum]

- Executive Assistant to the President/CEO [Boston Children's Museum]


Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on June 22, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

- Maine Memory Network Content Assistant [Maine Historical Society]

- Manager of Youth and School Programs [Heritage Museum and Gardens]

- Deputy Director for Education & Audience Engagement [Montclair Art Museum]

- Director of Education and Interpretation [The Hermitage]

- Collections Specialist [Newseum]

- Collections Manager [National Law Enforcement Museum]

- Collections Technician [National Museum of Health and Medicine]

- Assistant/Associate Curator (Art of the Ancient Americas) [Los Angeles County Museum of Art]

-Assistant Registrar [Veritude at Fidelity Investments]

-Adult Programs Manager [Columbia Museum of Art]

- Assistant Registrar [Farnsworth Art Museum]

- Curator of American Art [Newark Museum]

- Collections Manager and Registrar [American Museum of Ceramic Art]

- Curator of Collections [Rockwell Museum]

- Volunteer Coordinator [Woodmere Art Museum]

- Education Program Coordinator [Iowa Children's Museum]

- Exhibitions Coordinator [Asia Society Texas Center]

- Director of Education and Public Programs [Georgia O'Keefe Museum]

- Executive Director [American Clock and Watch Museum]


The Wider World: Getting to Know a New Area

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on June 21, 2014 in The Wider World |

Summer is often a time of change. Many recent graduates of the Tufts Museum Studies program are either already in, or in the process of finding, jobs that will take them to places they have never lived. Many of us are interning somewhere new to us. It’s great!

If museums are community institutions, and I believe they are (or should be), then when museum professionals are new to the community their museum serves, getting to know the neighborhood isn’t just a fun part of a new adventure in life. It’s an essential part of being  engaged and responsible in your new role. Here are some resources for getting to know a new area.

If your new area has a substantial population of a different ethnic background from you, or a significant low-income population, the series of “How Not to Be a Gentrifier” articles that were going around the internet a few months ago can be quite useful, especially if your own background includes racial or economic privilege. The most well-known and perhaps “original” version of this article refers specifically to Oakland, California. For a more generally applicable version, I recommend the one on Alternet. Both were written by Dannette Lambert.

Image by RedJar on Flickr, some rights reserved.

Image by RedJar on Flickr, some rights reserved.

Believe it or not, Mashable has some pretty good tips for putting your finger on the pulse of a new area, especially if it’s a city – Some of these are common sense, but when you’re dealing the the day-to-day details of living in a new place, like, “when’s trash day again?” it can be nice to have a list like this to help you remember the resources available to you for the more fun stuff.

While digging up resources for this post, I also noticed a number of common recommendations:
- Explore on foot or by bicycle to really get to know the place.

- Explore by public transit, even if you have a car.
- Take a guided walking tour offered by a community organization, another museum, or even a local hostel or hotel.
- Join local mailing lists or online communities.
I also loved one gem I only saw in one article. The rest of the article wasn’t very good, so I’m paraphrasing the best of it: read fiction set in your new area and written by locals. If possible, read local poetry, look at local art, listen to local music, and watch local films as well.
Have you moved to a new area recently, or do you have memories of getting to know a new place that you want to share? What are your recommendations? Feel free to chime in in the comments!


Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on June 15, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!


The Changing of the Guard

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on June 15, 2014 in blog news |
Congratulations to our outgoing blog manager, Phillippa Pitts, who graduated from Tufts with a Master’s in Art History and Museum Studies this spring.

Regular readers of the blog will know me, Tegan, as the author of the monthly column “The Wider World.” I’m going to be managing the blog this year. As in the past, you can send questions, inquiries about doing a column or guest post, and other communication that you don’t want to just leave in the comments to me at tuftsmuseumblog@gmail.com. Of course, if you have a response to a post here, you are always welcome to leave a comment.

As many of the students who have contributed to the blog this past year have now graduated, now’s an excellent time to get involved with the blog if you are interested! Shoot me an email if you want to write a guest post or a column. You can write columns weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or on a schedule you propose. You can share column-writing duties with another student interested in the same topic, or do your own thing. Drop me a line!



Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Tegan Kehoe on June 8, 2014 in jobs listings, Uncategorized |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!



Free Workshop for EMPS next Thursday

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 29, 2014 in boston emps, conferences, free resources, professional development |
It’s exactly as it sounds: a FREE workshop with one of our favorite Tufts professors with no registration fee.
Creativity in Museum Practice
Thursday, June 5, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
USS Constitution Museum
Join Rainey Tisdale and Linda Norris, authors of the new book Creativity in Museum Practice, for a fun, useful, and informative workshop about creativity, both for yourself and for your museum.
Let us know the YEPs know that you’re coming by signing up on Eventbrite.

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