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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 21, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 19, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

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Science in Museums: Science Museums and History of Science Museums

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 17, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Cira Brown

I’ve recently been doing a bit of work for the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, part of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture. I love the CHSI and have used it and its exhibitions as a basis for some of my papers here at Tufts. Over the past year I’ve also had internship and volunteer experiences at the Museum of Science and the MIT Museum, and have watched an assortment of visitors engage with each museum’s content. Each of these Boston-area museums attract different types of people, and I want to explore their expectations of their museum visits. I’m also curious as to whether their visit was motivated by an interest in history, science, or even the history of science – and even whether that expectation makes any difference at all.

Read more…

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Whose Program is This Anyway?

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 15, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp,

You may have heard that the great improv comedy show of the late ‘90’s Whose Line is it Anyway? is making a comeback this summer.

As museum professionals, I think it behooves us all to watch it. Why? Because a) everyone needs a good laugh now and again, and b) I’m a firm believer that running a museum education program is actually just an exercise in improv comedy. Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 12, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

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Summer Reading, Anyone?

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 11, 2013 in book recommendations |

With summer classes at Tufts kicking off this week, we thought we’d offer a few suggestions for those of us who aren’t in class to keep up the good work. (Of course, our reading is all beach-worthy!)

This week’s recommendation is from Program Director, Cynthia Robinson:

Mary Kay Zuravleff’s fictitious but totally believable National Museum of Asian Art takes center stage in her funny and offbeat book, The Bowl Is Already Broken (2006). Zuravleff, who worked as an editor at the Smithsonian, used her insider’s knowledge to construct wickedly accurate depictions of the quirky but devoted people who work in museums and confront-or cause-many of the big and small issues that we discuss in “Museums Today.”

Looking for more books? Check out the “Read More” tab. We’re storing all the suggestions (summery and otherwise) right there.

Have a book you’d like to recommend? Email Phillippa at tuftsmuseumblog[at]gmail.com.

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Science in Museums: Rethinking Accessibility: Don’t Leave English Language Learners Behind

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 10, 2013 in Science in Museums |

By columnist Catherine Sigmond

Let’s face it. English has become the global language, the lingua franca that links us all together. It’s also increasingly being recognized as the international language of science.

For non-native English speakers, the necessity of being able to read, speak, and publish research in English is an ever-growing hurdle.

Of course, the expanding use of the English language touches many more disciplines than just the hard sciences. But the fact remains that many of those who may be interested in pursuing careers in science may be hampered by their lack of high-level English language skills.
Read more…

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Free Workshop? On Grant Writing? Yes, please!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 10, 2013 in boston emps, professional development |

One week from today, the Boston EMPs will be hosting a free grant writing workshop with Christine Cunningham, Ph.D., the founder and director of the Museum of Science’s Engineering is Elementary program.

The EMPs are a fantastic group to get to know, so RSVP to BostonEMPs[at]gmail.com to save a spot.

The workshop will be held at 7pm on Wednesday, July 17 at the USS Constitution Museum (Charlestown Navy Yard Building 22 Boston, MA 02129 for your GPS needs.)

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 7, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 5, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

  • Manager of Family Programs [Museum of Fine Arts, Boston] Under the direction of the Head of Gallery Learning, the Manager of Family Programs will coordinate and facilitate gallery learning experiences for young audiences. Essential functions include: Design and implement family learning activities for specific museum-wide events, such as School Vacation Week and Community Open Houses, as well as family events coordinated by  Membership and …
  • Learning Programs Developer [Providence Children¹s Museum]Providence Children¹s Museum has served the public since 1977 and now welcomes 160,000 visitors a year; its mission is to inspire and celebrate learning through active play and exploration.  The Learning Programs Developer is primarily responsible for the development and functioning of play and learning experiences at the Museum and in the community for children ages 2 to 11. Responsibilities include: Supervise …
  • Coordinator of Adult Public Programs and Volunteer Corps [American Folk Art Museum] Position Description: The American Folk Art Museum is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of traditional folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad. The museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present. Position SummaryThe Coordinator of Adult …
  • Professional Development and Web Technology (Education Specialist) [Cooper Hewitt] Position Title: Professional Development and Web Technology (Education Specialist) Position Description: Federal Career Opportunity:This position is located at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (CHNDM). The employee serves as the program manager for professional development and web technology, including large-scale events, hands-on workshops and conferences. Travel across the United States is required. A driver’s license is highly desirable since travel will be required …

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Loosen Up My Buttons, Babe

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on July 1, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp

Metbuttons2

I like to think I came of age in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During my sophomore and junior years of high school, I spent countless hours wandering the halls of the Met on school field trips. I was typically the first off the bus, sprinting into the museum at full speed, and always the last one back, moseying to the bus slowly, wishing I could spend just five minutes more. Consequently, I have many fond memories of the Met.

Read more…

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 30, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

My favorite story of the week? “Ancient Egyptian statue at Manchester Museum moves on its own, stumped curator says.” (Got an answer? Please please please tell me in the comments!)

And my least favorite article this week: How Shocking: Met Unbuttons. It’s the end of an era!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 27, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

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Science in Museums: Sensory Science, Visualizing Climate Change

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 26, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Kacie Rice

Those who have worked in scientific research know that it’s often a world ruled by numbers and formulas. Even studies based on a mineral’s color or an animal’s morphology (that is, its basic shape and look) have to be backed up by numerical data and rigorous statistical calculations. It’s not enough for me to say, “yep, that rock looks mostly purple to me;” in a scientific publication, I would have to present data on optical density and other factors, and additionally show that these calculations are repeatable under laboratory conditions.

Read more…

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Meet the Museum! Hollis Bowe, Major Gifts Coordinator at Ford’s Theater, Washington DC

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 24, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp

Welcome back to Dispatch’s on-going series Meet The Museum! This week we are talking to Hollis Bowe, Major Gifts Coordinator at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC. Hollis is a passionate advocate for big cats’ rights and a graduate of Tufts University!

HollisBowe

Read more…

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 23, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 20, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Castles (And Dragons and Mermaids) Made of Sand

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 17, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp

I’ve been known to complain that Atlantic City is a culture vacuum. People don’t come to Atlantic City to take in Shakespeare, look at fine art or go to wine tastings. They come to go to get tanned, ogle half-naked girls at the beach, and get trashed on over-priced drinks at the beach bars. If you want refinement, the locals say here, go to Philadelphia. This is the Shore, baby.

So you can imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I stumbled across the 2013 World Championship Sand Sculpting Competition hosted right on the beach in Atlantic City. Twenty champions from around the world qualified to compete as solo artists and in pairs.

Read more…

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 16, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 14, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: “Rights”-ful Ownership

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 10, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp

There are two things in this life that I particularly love: early American history, and a good dramatic mystery.

So of course, when news broke that Pennsylvania’s original copy of the Bill of Rights may have been found in the New York Public, my ears pricked up and I started tuning in to the unfolding drama. Don’t know the story? That’s okay! Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic now presents:

The Wandering Bill of Rights: A Tale of Provenance

Read more…

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 9, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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From MIT to the Freemasons, explore rarely seen archives around Cambridge!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 8, 2013 in events |

Mark your calendars for an amazing series by the Cambridge Historical Society this summer. They say:

For the fifth year in a row, Cambridge archives will open their doors and invite the public in to see the rare items that are rarely seen. “Working in local history you get to know all sorts of cool places that have amazing resources,” said Gavin W. Kleespies, director of the Cambridge Historical Society, “but most people never get inside these institutions or only know of a few of them. Our city is full of archival collections of photos, letters, and diaries that are breath taking, shocking, and comic-and they are all in the city of Cambridge. This is an opportunity for anyone who is interested to glimpse items from world class archives and talk with the experts who know these collections. ”

Residents and visitors will be given the opportunity to visit thirteen institutions in this year’s Open Archives program, including eight archives that have never participated before.

This year’s theme is Spaces: Sacred and Profane, and each archive will interpret this in their own way and delve into their collections to display materials, including photographs, correspondence, ephemera, and more that relate to that theme.

“This is the largest archives tour in America and one of the only archives tours open to people who do not work in libraries or museums.” continued Gavin. “Last year we saw Julia Child’s Emmy, a lock of Amelia Earhart’s hair, an x-ray of a Picasso sculpture, manuscripts from W.E.B. Du Bois, a real John Hancock signature, and posters advertising the Byrds’s concert at MIT. It is an amazing set of tours.”

Tours are offered between June 17 and 21. See this press release for specific dates, reservation info, and more.

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 7, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

  • Teen Programs Research Fellow [The Whitney Museum of American Art]The Whitney Museum of American Art seeks a part-time research project fellow (approximately 20 hours per week through September 2014, with a flexible schedule) to coordinate and assist with research activities for a national project investigating the long-term impact of intensive teen programs in contemporary art museums.   The part-time fellow will report to the Manager of …
  • Interpretation Manager [Amon Carter Museum of American Art] AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART SEEKS AN INTERPRETATION MANAGER to join its nationally-recognized Education team. Specializing in the knowledge of visual art, the Interpretation Manager’s combined skills as an educator, editor, writer, and project manager place him/her at the center of the Amon Carter’s interpretation of works of art—both at the museum and virtually. …
  • Assistant Curator [Amon Carter Museum of American Art] The Amon Carter Museum of American Art seeks an assistant curator with the expertise to assist the curatorial department with projects relating to the paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and photography collections including interpretation, research, publication, display, acquisitions, conservation, development initiatives, and outreach. Support and organize exhibitions, present, and contribute to varied publications. Represent the …
  • Associate Museum Curator [STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA] JOB CLASS TITLE: Associate Museum Curator POSITION NUMBER: 60083549 DEPARTMENT: Dept of Cultural Resources SALARY RANGE: $35,761.00 – $57,006.00 Annually RECRUITMENT RANGE: $35,761 – $35,761 SALARY GRADE / SALARY GRADE EQUIVALENT: 68 COMPETENCY LEVEL: Not Applicable APPOINTMENT TYPE: Permanent Full-Time WORK LOCATION: Craven County OPENING DATE: 05/28/13 CLOSING DATE: 06/11/13 5:00 PM Eastern Time DESCRIPTION OF WORK: This position is being re-posted.  Previous applicants do not need to reapply.  Position is responsible for overall administration and management of the Education Branch …
  • Museum Operations Manager [Springfield Museum of Art] Job ID: 13668187 Position Title: Museum Operations Manager Company Name: Springfield Museum of Art Job Function: Assistant/Deputy/Associate Director Entry Level: No Location(s): Springfield, Ohio, 45504, United States Posted: June 4, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate Min Experience: 2-3 Years Required Travel: 0-10%   We are looking for a dynamic, accomplished individual to serve as Museum Operations Manager.The Springfield Museum of Art became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2012 and is now at the beginning of an …
  • Museum Director [Spartanburg Art Museum] Contact Person: Chris Kennedy Fax: 864-948-5353 Email Address: chris@tbklawfirm.com   Job ID: 13651454 Position Title: Museum Director Company Name: Spartanburg Art Museum Job Function: Directors/Administrators Entry Level: No Job Type: Full-time Location(s): Spartanburg, South Carolina, 29306, United States Posted: June 3, 2013 Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate Min Experience: 3-5 Years Required Travel: 0-10% Salary: $40,000.00 – $48,000.00 (Yearly Salary)   Primary Position Description The Museum Director of the Spartanburg Art Museum (SAM) at the Chapman Cultural Center shall be responsible for and accountable for all aspects of the …
  • Director of Education and Community Programs [Children’s Museum of Manhattan] The Education Department is seeking to fill the position of The Director of Education and Community Program’s primary responsibility will be to manage and lead the day‐to‐day operations of CMOM’s education and community outreach programs, both  onsite and off. Learn more
  • Interpretation Associate [Liberty Science Center] 945940 Position: Interpretation Associate Company: Liberty Science Center Job function: Science Type of job: Part-Time Job duration: Indefinite Min. education: Associates Degree Min. experience: None Wage: $12.50 per hour Date posted: 5/17/2013 Job Locations: Jersey City, NJ, US Position Description: Position Overview: The Interpretation Associate enhances the learning experience of Liberty Science Center guests by facilitating the exploration of exhibits and by delivering educational activities. The Interpretation Associate is responsible for providing exemplary frontline guest services to foster …
  • Assistant Registrar [Missouri History Museum] The primary duties of the assistant registrar are: Oversee entry of new acquisitions: Receive and track receipts for study and other documents relating to incoming acquisitions. Maintain acquisition records in MIMSY Collection Management system as needed. Send and receive Contracts of gift. Communicate with donors as needed regarding the donation process. Record accessions. Manage Item History …
  • Museum Gift Shop Supervisor [Washington State Historical Society] Job ID: 13666929 Position Title: Museum Gift Shop Supervisor Company Name: Washington State Historical Society Job Function: Visitor Services/Customer Service Entry Level: No Job Type: Full-time Location(s): Tacoma, Washington, 98402, United States Posted: June 4, 2013 Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: H.S. Diploma/Equivalent Min Experience: 2-3 Years Required Travel: 0-10% Salary: $30,240.00 – $39,312.00 (Yearly Salary) In order to be considered for this position you must apply www.careers.wa.gov.  If you have any questions regarding the application process please contact Misty Reese at 253-798-5901 or misty.reese@wshs.wa.gov. This …
  • Site Administrator & Project Manager [Connecticut Landmarks]Connecticut Landmarks (CTL) seeks a Site Administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations of the late 17th and 18th-century Joshua Hempsted and Nathaniel Hempsted Houses, opened to the public seasonally from May through October. In coordination with CTL Hartford staff, the Site Administrator will utilize the historic site and direct museum interpreters to deliver content-rich programs …
  • PT Teaching Guide/Interpreter [Delaware History Museum] Position Description Part-time: Teaching Guide/Interpreter — Delaware History Museum Our Vision: A society inspired and empowered by Delaware history to shape the future. As a member of the staff of the Delaware Historical Society, you are collectively responsible for ensuring that all of your professional activities are advancing the vision. Staff Structure: The staff is arranged in four work groups each …
  • Association Manager [Visitor Studies Association] The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) is a membership organization dedicated to understanding and enhancing learning experiences in informal settings through research, evaluation, and dialogue. We offer an array of services designed to foster evidence-based practice, including an annual conference, professional development workshops, and the peer-reviewed journal Visitor Studies. Through these and other activities, we help researchers, …
  • Manager of School and Docent Programs [Taft Museum of Art]*Manager of School and Docent Programs, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio    * * * The Taft Museum of Art is seeking an enthusiastic professional for the position of Manager of School and Docent Programs. Reporting to the Taft¹s Curator of Education, the Manager of School and Docent Programs will initiate, develop, implement, and evaluate programs that serve students and teachers …
  • Education Fellow (1 Year Appt) [Museum of the City of New York]Fellowship for Excellence in Museum Education at the Museum of the City of New York The Frederick A.O. Schwarz Children¹s Center at the Museum of the City of New York seeks a full-time Fellow to oversee the development, logistics, implementation and marketing of Family Programs in addition to working with school groups on a daily basis to deliver our school …
  • Education Coordinator [Maine Historical Society] May 2013 The Maine Historical Society (MHS) seeks an innovative and energetic Education Coordinator to lead the development and implementation of our statewide education program. The Education Coordinator is responsible for on-site school and family programs; developing tours of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Portland’s historic Old Port, including managing and training museum guides and volunteer docents; and …

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Science in Museums: Why Tweet?: Effective Web Marketing for Museums

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 5, 2013 in Science in Museums, Uncategorized |

by columnist Kacie Rice

Having finally started a professional Twitter account in the last few weeks (shameless plug: follow me @kacie_rice!), I’ve become more conscious of the informal advertising that museums do through new media.  While museums still use traditional media such as newspapers and billboards to advertise, they, like most other companies and institutions, have also embraced more casual, up-to-the-minute platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to distribute their messages. This has the additional benefit of allowing museum marketers to deliver many small messages a day, rather than relying on a focused article in a monthly magazine or a subway ad with limited space. It also means museums can respond quickly to major events or schedule changes, as when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was able to immediately announce its free community days in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in April.

Obviously, this potential has huge benefit to museums (honestly, way more than enough has been written about new media’s advertising potential by people with far more Silicon Valley cred than me – don’t worry, this won’t be one of those articles), but only if museums can use it wisely. New media, as currently used, should complement traditional media, filling its own niche by providing snippets of current information, links to relevant stories, and casual interactions. It should also allow museums to reach out to the public about experimental topics and stories that wouldn’t necessarily be newspaper-worthy, but could have a happy home on the web (for example, the @smithsonian has recently tweeted numerous survey links soliciting the public’s opinion on potential exhibit topics for the National Postal Museum – before the advent of Twitter, this kind of survey would have to be done either by mail or by museum staff on the floor, and most likely just wouldn’t happen).

So why, with all this potential, do I mostly see museums’ Twitter and Facebook accounts tweeting the same links and information about current exhibits repeatedly? Some museums, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science (@hmns), do use their accounts to post current science news and memes, but by and large, I’m getting the same thing from the Twitter accounts I’m following that I could get in a small magazine ad. As a potential visitor, I’m following these accounts to gain insider knowledge, current news, and interesting stories – not the same old exhibit ads the museum has been putting out for months.

A notable and admirable exception here is the London Museum of Science (@sciencemuseum), which uses Twitter to regularly invite people to visit its website to play interactive web games and explore collections-based interactives. This, to me, is a perfect use of a museum’s Twitter – it calls attention to an area where educators and developers have obviously spent a lot of time and effort, as well as an area that may be overlooked in traditional media. If museums are developing web-based games and educational materials, presumably they want to public to know about them and use them – so why aren’t they talking about them more often?

Web-based content is often, rightly, viewed as secondary to the “real” museum experience. Museums are inherently object-based (though this gets admittedly murky when talking about science museums), but websites can provide an avenue for more in-depth content, and also a way to reach those who cannot physically reach the museum due to cost, distance, or other limitations. This kind of interactive content can be especially useful for science museums, which often teach complex material that would benefit from the kind of increased experimentation and study that the web can provide visitors.

If I weren’t a professional museum educator, I’m honestly not even sure I would know to seek these kinds of things out on museum websites. Museums have a whole host of these “bonus” programs, such as teacher resources, homeschooler resources, and classroom interactives. These bonuses are rarely advertised to the public, potentially missing audiences of parents or teachers who may want to use them. Museums should be talking about these web-based programs more often, both to reach out to communities in an educational way and to make the most of the resources that they are already pouring into these games and interactives. Twitter, Facebook, and other new media platforms provide the perfect venue for this kind of outreach (best of all, they’re free!) – one that the London Science Museum is readily embracing, and one that I hope to see other prominent museums take up.

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: A Pinch of Sage

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 4, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp,

As many of you already know, I started a new job at the museum this week. On the one hand, it’s the easiest start to a job ever – I already know my supervisors and coworkers, I know the programs we’re going to run, where they will be and when, and I know how the museum functions and works to fulfill it’s mission.

On the other hand…starting a new job is never easy. There’s definitely a learning curve. As a lot of my friends, classmates, former coworkers, (and even my sibling!) are starting new ventures, let’s take some time to remind ourselves of some sage new job advice.

1. Don’t underestimate how long it takes to adjust.

I came home sobbing my very first day of work last summer. And my second day. And my third. Not only was I exhausted, I had no idea what I was doing and it felt like I never, ever would. (Eventually I learned, and soon started training new people.)

Being patient with yourself can be hard, and it’s something I often have to remind myself to do. You’re not going to be good at everything right away. Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re doing really well, and then have a set back. It can take up to 6 months or even longer to really adjust to a new job.

2. Plan ahead!

I am a total sloth in the morning. The earlier I have to wake up, the slower I move. But the slower I move, the earlier I have to wake up. It’s a vicious cycle. Planning ahead saves me time and helps my morning run smoothly.

Find a routine that works for you. I pack my lunch, pick out my outfits, and fill up my gas tank the night before. Sometimes I even set my coffee pot to auto start and hard-boil a few eggs for breakfast. It totally stinks the night before to take my free time to prepare, but it makes my mornings a snap.

3. Dress for success.

My mother is a power-suited woman of the 80’s. Growing up I learned that you are never completely dressed without makeup and that a little nail polish can go a long way.

Now, I know that makeup or nail polish may not be your thing, and that’s cool. But I do believe that feeling good about the way you look is a confidence booster. So wear your favorite bracelet, swipe on a little extra mascara, buy a new hair clip, or give yourself a quick coat of nail polish – anything that makes you feel confident and professional!

4. Communicate with people the way they like to communicate.

This is one from my sister the Comm Major and it deceptively simple: Pay attention to how your coworkers, clients and partners communicate with each other. Is it through email? Phone calls? Text message? In person meetings? Post-It notes?

Paying attention to how people communicate can set you for successful dialogue and exchange of ideas. If you notice that your supervisor prefers to communicate through email, don’t waste your time leaving voicemails and then banging your head on the desk (a.k.a.: The Headdesk) wondering why she never gets back to you. I find more often than not, those situations open the door for passive aggressive behavior, which we all know is never okay.

By the same token, if you’re terrible about checking texts, perhaps suggest people call or email you instead.

5. Don’t be afraid.

I’ll admit it: sometimes I’m afraid to ask for help for fear of looking silly. No, seriously. I needed help using Gmail today and was kind of afraid to ask. I was afraid to buy lunch in the cafeteria because I had to ask for the special gluten-free noodles. I’m kind of a huge ‘Fraidy-Cat.

Don’t be afraid. Ask for help. It’s how you get better at things. Tell people what you need. It’s how things get done correctly the first time.

6.  Smile.

Not feeling so well? Smile. Not feeling so friendly? Smile. Not feeling so confident? Smile.

It takes fewer muscles than frowning, prolongs your life and helps make your workplace a positive environment. So just smile.

 

What kind of advice do you have to share? Did anyone give you sage advice when you started your job? Share it in the comments!

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on June 3, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 31, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

  • Full-Time Community Outreach Coordinator [Please Touch Museum] Position Summary: The Community Outreach Coordinator will report to the Manager of Community Outreach. The Coordinator assists with the curriculum design, program planning and assessment of educational programming in the two key thematic areas: External Play and School Readiness. The Coordinator is also responsible for the implementation of these programs in local schools, childcare centers, social …
  • Kress Interpretive Fellowship [Cornell Fine Arts Museum] The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is seeking eligible candidates for a Kress Interpretive Fellowship for 2013-14. The Kress Interpretive Fellowships aim to cultivate graduate students and young professionals interested in museum careers, focusing on curatorial and educational collaboration. The Fellow’s activities will focus on research of the Cornell’s permanent collection and development of interpretive materials. Under …
  • Programs Fellow [The Museum of Science] Programs Fellow (Sept. 2013 – Sept. 2014) Description Provide an important contribution to the Education Division by performing live presentations for visitors, programs for students and teachers, and other similar programs on a wide variety of topics in science and technology. Contribute new ideas, creativity and perspectives to our efforts in informal science and technology education.This Fellowship, …
  • Fellow, Getty Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative [Walker Art Center]The Walker seeks a full-time, temporary fellow for the Getty Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI). The fellow works with Visual Arts curators to plan and implement a dynamic, sustainable online collections catalogue that focuses on new acquisitions, performing arts commissions, and works produced for artist residency projects. The fellow assists in developing theme-based volumes of the catalogue …
  • Interactive Technology Developer [Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art] The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is currently accepting resumes and applications for the new and exciting position of Interactive Technology Developer. This position will work in a team-oriented environment to create innovative technology-based exhibit experiences that will engage visitors throughout the museum. Please send resumes, 3 references and salary requirements topersonnel@eiteljorg.com or …
  • Program Assistant [Maryland Humanities Council} Program Assistant: Apply by June 7 Posting Date:  May 13, 2013 Job Description The Program Assistant provides assistance to the Program Officers responsible for a set of programs in order to provide program support and general administrative support.  Program areas for this position will include the One Maryland One Book, Letters About Literature, Book Festivals, Civil War Discussion, ...
  • Mellon Curatorial Coordinator [Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art] The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, is conducting a search for the Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs.  Position Summary This position is responsible for helping to strengthen the teaching mission of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.  The successful candidate will have a deep commitment to object-based learning, interdisciplinary teaching, and collaboration, …
  • Director of Curatorial Affairs [Worcester Art Museum] The Worcester Art Museum seeks an experienced and dynamic Director of Curatorial Affairs with a strong background in European art. The Museum is in the process of leveraging its high level encyclopedic collections to have a stronger regional impact, with a clear focus on the visitor experience. The Director of Curatorial Affairs is part of …
  • Program Associate [National Jazz Museum] Position Summary The Program Associate for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem aids the Artistic Director in realizing the Museum’s programmatic vision. Other responsibilities include supporting other Museum personnel with day-to-day operations regarding collections, exhibits, and research at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. The position’s responsibilities include organizing and caring for the Museum’s collections both at its Harlem office …
  • Development Associate [National Jazz Museum] Position Summary The Development Associate for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem provides direct support to the Director of Development in the implementation of the Museum’s comprehensive fund-raising program that is focused on institutional support, individual donors, membership, and special events. The Development Associate reports to the Director of Development. Position Responsibilities Research, Cultivation, and Solicitation 1. Conduct prospect research at the …
  • Exhibits Manager [Connecticut Science Center] Job Title: Exhibits Manager FLSA: Salaried, Exempt Full Time (40 hours per week) Reports to: Director of Exhibits Summary of Key Responsibilities:  Provides daily and overall leadership to a team of highly skilled Exhibit Technicians. Leading by example, the Exhibit Manager sets the tone for exemplary service from the Exhibits Department consistent with the established Culture of the Connecticut Science …
  • Education Assistant [The Arts Council of Princeton] The Arts Council of Princeton has an immediate opening for an Education Assistant. Interested applicants should submit materials before June 10. Interested candidates should send resume, letter of interest, three references and salary requirements by June 10, 2013 to Julie Sullivan-Crowley at jsullivancrowley@artscouncilofprinceton.org<mailto:jsullivancrowley@artscouncilofprinceton.org> with “Education Assistant Search” in the subject line or mail to: Education Assistant Search Arts Council of Princeton Paul Robeson Center for the Arts 102 …
  • Coordinator of Live Animal Care; Museum Educator [Brooklyn Children’s Museum] Position Description: Coordinator of Live Animal Care; Museum Educator Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the world’s first museum for children is searching for a full-time Coordinator of Live Animal Care; Museum Educator. This person will coordinate live animal care for the Museum’s reptiles, amphibians, aquaria, invertebrates and birds, as well as develop and facilitate educational programming. Coordinator will lead the team of animal …
  • Manager, Education & Public Programs [Brooklyn Children's Museum]DEPARTMENT: Education SUPERVISOR: Director of Education Overview: Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the world’s first museum for children, is searching for a full-time Manager of Education and Public Programs. Reporting to the Director of Education, this key position collaborates with senior education and museum staff to conceptualize, develop, implement, and evaluate a broad selection of school and public programs, as …

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: The Price is Right?

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 28, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp,

I fib sometimes to get discounts.

At the gym: Are you a student? Totally! (-$25 on membership)

At the movies: Is your parent a senior citizen? Yes! (-$3 per ticket)

At the store: Do you have a club card? Absolutely! (+$5 in coupons for giving my sister’s phone number.)

So it comes as no surprise that when I go to museums, I do everything I can to bring admission prices down. I’ll bring my museum association cards, old student ID’s, refer-a-friend coupons and Groupons…pretty much anything.

It’s not because I don’t want to pay to get in. I know that most museum revenue comes from admission sales. I know it’s how they keep the place open. I want to pay, but I can’t. Honestly, I can’t afford it. I have a really tight budget.

So I was conflicted when I learned that museum prices are rising all along the Mid-Atlantic, particularly in Philadelphia.

According to a recent Philadelphia Business Journal article area museums have been raising their prices by as much as 25% in 2013. On the one hand, this is hugely positive. Attendance for mid-Atlantic museum is up, so the price hike is an indicator that the services we provide are definitely in demand. We can hopefully take this as a sign that the economy is recovering and arts/education funding may grow in the near future. On the other hand…are we potentially playing with fire?

When my museum raised its prices by $1 to help cover overhead costs, I heard complaints day in, day out, for weeks on end about this small increase. It now costs $64 for a family of four to visit – but that’s before you pay for parking, lunch and souvenirs. For many, one day at the museum is a budget buster. Unsurprisingly we see huge crowd increases around the time our LivingSocial coupons are released and discounted Target First Wednesdays can be crazy.

So attendance and prices are up. But what can you do to make sure customers feel like they’re getting more bang for their extra bucks?

Well, for one thing, innovative ticketing definitely helps. Several museums have started to create partnerships – like the Penn Museum and the Mutter Museum did in 2012. Rather than pay $27 per person to see each museum separately, you can now buy a combo ticket and see both institutions for $20. The Barnes Foundation has now folded the cost of an audio guide into their admission prices. Some museums have expanded their definitions of “children” discount tickets, and others have increased the number of “pay-what-you-want-to” days.

But the biggest helper is the marketing scheme. When packaged as a “day-cation” a museum visit is cheap. Let’s break it down.

To get in to Disney World for one day, a single adult would pay $95.

To get on to the beach here in Ventnor NJ you pay a $10 fee, plus $12 in tolls.

Average cost of a museum: $15.

Oh, and by the way, that museum entrance comes with air conditioning and cultural enlightenment. Less chance of sunburn, more chance of learning stuff. Pretty good deal, yeah?

Are prices rising a good thing? How do you convince your visitors to pay more? What kinds of tricks do you use to balance your own budget? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

 

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 26, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Short term opportunity at the American Textile History Museum!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 25, 2013 in Uncategorized |

A fantastic opportunity to work with antique textiles has just come in. They’re looking for 2-3 individuals to photograph the American Textile History Museum’s archives in pursuit of a multi-museum, open-access, searchable database of antique and vintage textiles!

Here’s the description:

 

Position:  Image capture assistant for the Virtual Textile Project

Location:  American Textile History Museum, Lowell, Massachusetts

Type:  temporary position. Hiring 2 to 3 people.

Duration: June 13 to July 5 (with possible extension and/or additional opportunities).

Contact person:  Catherine Bradley via e-mail catherine.bradley@mcgill.ca

 

Job description:  The candidate will be trained to photograph antique textiles using different image capture techniques.  This is part of a larger project involving the creation of an open access database of antique and vintage textiles from important textile museums worldwide.  The ATHM is the first museum to have their textiles captured by our team, so the photographic protocols will be tested and adjusted during this phase of the project.  The candidates will be working directly with McGill University researcher, Catherine Bradley, and will be trained by a team from Dragon and Phoenix Software, led by Kat Lind.

 

The skills of interest for this project are arranged in several groups. The first group includes those abilities required by all members of the team, while the second identifies skills and competencies that need to be covered by the team, but not necessarily by each member of the team. The final group identifies those skills that would be an asset, but are not necessarily required.

 

Competencies and characteristics – all team members must possess the following characteristics:

  • detail oriented

  • meticulous in following protocols and procedures

  • general technical familiarity with computers, internet and storage

  • works well in a small team

  • comfortable in museum archives

  • fast learner

  • adaptable

  • easy going

  • good visional discernment

 

Competencies – team coverage.  The following characteristics must be present in the team as whole, not necessarily in each individual member.  The more characteristics the person possesses, the greater the chance of success.

  • experience handling museum artifacts

  • experience handling delicate items

  • interest in and knowledge about textiles

  • photographic skills with digital cameras

  • good written and oral communication skills

 

Hiring process:

  1. Please send a letter describing your suitability for the position, along with a current CV to    catherine.bradley@mcgill.ca

  2. Suitable candidates will be contacted for phone interviews

  3. The most suitable candidates will be interviewed on June 10.

  4. The candidates who are chosen will start work on June 12, 2013.

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 24, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

  • Summer Research Fellowship for Museum Interpretation [Dayton Art Institute] The Dayton Art Institute announces a new fellowship offered through the generosity of an anonymous donor.**** Two fellows will be selected to focus on researching and developing content on select objects in the museum¹s collection to add to the existing*What is a Masterpiece? An Interactive Tour of World Art *program. Fellows will identify content sources in a variety of media, …
  • Museum Educator [Springfield Art Museum] The Springfield Art Museum invites applications for the position of Museum Educator.  Located in Missouri’s third largest city, the Springfield Art Museum serves as a cultural hub to the region.  The Springfield MSA has a population of over 300,000 and features numerous amenities found in a larger city but with a small-town feel.  Springfield boasts a vibrant downtown, award winning …
  • Education Coordinator [The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine]Location: New York City Department: Public Education and Visitor Services Reports to:  Co-Director, Public Education and Visitor Services Posting Date: May 20, 2013 The Organization: The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is one of the world’s most celebrated institutions, set amidst 11.5 acres of stunning and architecturally significant buildings and gardens. With its doors open to everyone, the Cathedral …
  • Kress Interpretive Fellowship [Portland Art Museum] If you are a recent graduate in art history and/or museum education, we would like to bring to your attention to an exciting fellowship opportunity at the Portland Art Museum. The Portland Art Museum has been awarded a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for a year-long paid, full-time fellowship position in museum interpretation beginning in September 2013. We …
  • Assistant Registrar [The University of Utah] sent in by Tufts alumna, Jennifer Ortiz Open Date 05/14/2013 Requisition Number PRN03750B Job Title Assistant Registrar Working Title UMFA Registrar Job Grade C Standard Hours per Week 40 Work Schedule Summary Mon thru Fri 8:00 – 5:00 Department 00073 – Utah Museum of Fine Arts Type of Recruitment External Posting Pay Rate Range 14.00 – 16.00 Close Date NOTE: May close at anytime. 06/04/2013 Open Until Filled NOTE: May close at anytime. No Job Summary The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is located on …

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Science in Museums: It’s Not So Bad To Not Get The Big Idea

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 22, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Cira Brown,

This past Sunday, I visited the Museum of Science to see the new exhibit entitled “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life in Ancient Times”. Admittedly, it’s a topic I don’t know much about, which makes it difficult to evaluate how the exhibition presented the material. However, the experience made for a good opportunity to assess learning in a museum from my own standpoint – and I realized something interesting. While the artifacts were stunning and the exhibition beautifully crafted, I emerged from my time in the exhibit without a clear idea of what the objective of the exhibition was. What I mean by this is that despite all of the information in each panel, I was unable to construct a larger understanding of the topic at hand – in short, the big idea, save for a vague larger appreciation for the historical significance of the discovery and preservation efforts.

When I visit an exhibit, it’s usually apparent to me what the “take-away” learning objectives are – the label text, artifacts and interactives all acting as scaffolds to support a predetermined goal. I was unable to discern objectives from this exhibit, as the labels were informative, but did not focus too heavily on any particular aspect. I was expecting to find conflicting theories about the origin and meaning the scrolls, each with their respective academic arguments for and against each theory. Similarly, I expected to be presented with detailed explanations of preservation and restoration efforts. Instead, the exhibition mainly focused on providing context about the era in which the scrolls were written, which in and of itself was a tremendous task. Due to the scrolls unknown provenance and inconclusive assertions about the authors’ motivations, I understand the need to be ambiguous, especially given the “official” status that is bestowed upon the museum exhibit.

Nonetheless, I certainly wouldn’t say this say this exhibit failed, and I should note that I did not participate in the audio tour, which may have remedied some of this confusion. Jumping into an exhibit about a topic I knew little about was challenging and left me with a lot of questions – when I went home I downloaded a book and watched a documentary on the topic as well. The exhibit, then, was successful in that it sparked further research and interest. But in the museum, in the whirlwind of information, I felt fairly lost. I’m curious to know if this alienated visitors instead of empowering them.As I reflect on my time on Sunday, I’ve decided that this “lost” feeling isn’t as negative at it appears. I certainly wasn’t frustrated in the exhibit. If something is challenging, the consequential challenge for the curator and exhibit developer is to translate the topic without making it intimidating or isolating, and I wouldn’t characterize the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit as either. I think it’s okay to not understand everything, perhaps even major things, or have an expectation that visitors will meet those educational objectives in bullet form. It brings to mind the work of art museum educators and the valuable discussions that can be created from visual observation – even if the participants do not know the “hidden” or “true” meanings of the artwork, context or symbols contained within. After this initial engagement with an object or concept, will visitors be more receptive to internalizing other meanings? I believe so – and this starting point is inquiry.

Science museums espouse “exploration”, and fostering exploration within a conceptual topic is a difficult experience to design. The science exhibit developer can emulate an experiment to allow visitors to explore particular phenomena, which are a tried-and-true for science exhibitions. The aforementioned impetus for inquiry is usually explicitly stated in label text. However, are there other, non-interactive, non-explicit ways to mentally explore a topic? What about the progression and formation of an idea, particularly a scientific theory? Like the context of the Dead Sea Scrolls or any historical topic, scientific narratives cannot always be summed up in a succinct manner.

My first foray into exhibit development took the form of an exploratory digital exhibition on one of those tricky narratives: the scientific development of early 20th-century physics and the subsequent development of atomic weaponry. The context needed to present the topic is immense, both on a scientific and historic scale: quantum mechanics plus the global affairs that resulted in two world wars. This project addressed many of the difficulties in fostering exploration that I’ve described here, and, in my next blog post, I will discuss various educational methods to confront these “tricky” topics.

Also, I’d be curious to know what others who saw the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit thought of it!

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: City of Museums

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 20, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp,

Since college, I have tried really hard to dislike Philadelphia. It probably had something to do with dating a guy from Pittsburgh, but it mostly boiled down to this: its not big like New York, it’s not the capital like Washington, it’s not as strong-willed as Boston, and I hate all its sports teams. I’ve been known to call it Filth-adelphia from time to time, and curse its middling existence when driving between Washington to New York. It feels like an “unspecial” city. And did I mention that I really hate all the sports teams?

But, here I am living in Philadelphia, and I’m going to tell you a secret. Ready?

I kind of really like it here.

It was a puzzling thing for me – liking a city I’d decided to hate – until I heard a short bit on NPR, featuring Penn professor David Brownlee that made it all click into place.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of the American museum.

In 1789, Charles Wilson Peale (of The Artist in His Museum self-portrait fame) founded The Philadelphia Museum, a collection of odds and ends, paintings and taxidermy specimens he had acquired over the years.

Peale

Peale was the first to establish collection loans when he borrowed taxidermy specimens for his museum from a London institution, and was also the first to adopt the Linnaean taxonomy, presenting his specimens as scientific pieces for study and education, rather than for entertainment or shock value as many other curio collections did at the time.

Other Philadelphia museums quickly popped up, and spread the idea that collections could be used to broaden the mind and cultural horizons. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (founded in 1806) is the oldest art school and museum in the United States. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel (founded in 1812) is the oldest science research institution, and the Franklin Institute (1824) was one of the first museums in the western hemisphere to dedicate itself specifically to science education.

For a history major and a museum studies graduate, that’s a lot of BIG museum firsts.

(FYI – The oldest established museum I could find in Boston was the Boston Athanaeum, founded in 1807. Let me know if there’s an older one.)

Maybe Philadelphia feels “unspecial” to me because at so many times it has been special for different reasons. For a little while it was the nation’s capital, then the industrial capital, then arts capital and then a center for scientific and philosophical thought.

And, as Brownlee posits, this fluctuating role in history is also represented in its museums. How, where and why certain institutions were built can represent a city at a certain moment – much the way your high school yearbook photo represents you when you graduated.

I often ask my peers: do museums have a specific personality based on their location? Is a modern art museum in Chicago, for example, fundamentally different from one in San Francisco? Or is a museum a museum a museum, no matter where you go?

Personally, I subscribe to the idea of a personality. I do think museums have a certain feel depending on the city.

Washington gets to have the Nationals – the museums that represent the United States as a whole. Boston gets the Revolutionaries– the places that talk about colonial life and the start of American history and culture. New York has the Hipster-Highbrows – institutions that are as big, as fancy and as eclectic as its population.

But I think Philadelphia has something extra special. It has the Firsts. The places that went through the growing pains and all the changes that make American museums what they are today. And, oddly, for being the City of Museums (as Brownlee put it), Philadelphia institutions don’t feel pretentious.

Sadly, Peale’s Philadelphia Museum failed and the collection was sold, so you can’t go see the first American museum. But Peale’s idea for an educational institution remained, and can be seen in all sorts of museums, both in Philadelphia and around the United States.

What do you think? Do museums have “personalities” based on location? How important is it to be labeled oldest, first or biggest?

To hear Brownlee’s interview on NPR, click here

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 19, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 17, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

Sent in by Tufts alumnae:

  • Assistant Registrar [The University of Utah] sent in by Tufts alumna, Jennifer Ortiz Open Date 05/14/2013 Requisition Number PRN03750B Job Title Assistant Registrar Working Title UMFA Registrar Job Grade C Standard Hours per Week 40 Work Schedule Summary Mon thru Fri 8:00 – 5:00 Department 00073 – Utah Museum of Fine Arts Type of Recruitment External Posting Pay Rate Range 14.00 – 16.00 Close Date NOTE: May close at anytime. 06/04/2013 Open Until Filled NOTE: May close at anytime. No Job Summary The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is located on …

Other jobs!

  • Natural Science Educator [Turtle Bay Exploration Park, CA] Turtle Bay Exploration Park, located in beautiful Northern California, is seeking an enthusiastic, creative and experienced team player to join the education department. Reporting to the Education & Program Manager, the educator develops and implements interactive, engaging and learner-centered interdisciplinary education programs for museum, family and school programs, takes the lead on natural science programming and training and provides direct supervision …
  • Manager of Youth Learning & Engagement [Wolfsonian] The Wolfsonian­Florida International University, a museum and research center located in the heart of historic south Miami Beach, uses objects to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design, to explore what it means to be modern, and to tell the story of social, political, and technological changes that have transformed our world. It encourages people to see the world …
  • Project Manager [National Museum of the American Indian] Leads a multi-disciplinary team of museum personnel assigned to the project from across the museum, from inception through completion. Collaborates with representatives from the following functional areas:  collections, curatorial, conservation, registration, exhibition design, exhibition fabrication, media, information technology, fundraising, special events, publications, and administration and finance. Manages the most complex projects in the museum, i.e. those that …
  • Assistant Coordinator, Exhibition Planning and Administration [The Museum of Modern Art] The Museum of Modern Art is now accepting applications for an Assistant Coordinator in the Exhibition Planning and Administration department.  Reporting to the Associate Director the incumbent will serve as an exhibition coordinator for medium-scale exhibitions and performances within the context of The Museum of Modern Art’s robust exhibition program, overseeing and implementing all aspects of …
  • G:Class Assistant [The New Museum] The G:Class Assistant will develop and facilitate projects, trips and schedule work assignments for high school interns at the New Museum. Under the supervision of the Associate Educator, the G:Class Assistant will mentor teen interns as they gain work experience and exposure to contemporary art and ideas. The position hours are 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues-Fri July …
  • Exhibition Coordinator [The Huntington Library] The Exhibition Coordinator serves as the project manager for the institution’s major exhibitions, including but not limited to exhibitions scheduled for the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery, West Hall of the Library, the Chandler Wing of the Scott Galleries, and the Works on Paper Room of the Huntington Art Gallery.  The Exhibition Coordinator works with …
  • Chief Registrar and Collection Manager [Museum of the Moving Image]POSITION TITLE: Chief Registrar and Collections Manager Museum of the Moving Image is seeking an individual to serve as the Museum’s Chief Registrar and Collections Manager. This person will direct the planning and day-to-day management and care of the Museum’s permanent collection, all activities concerning incoming and outgoing loans, and oversee the application of approved procedures …
  • Academic Programs Coordinator [The Hammer Museum] Under the supervision of the Assistant Director, Academic Programs, the Academic Programs Coordinator will coordinate the Museum’s UCLA student-related academic programs. These academic programs include but are not limited to the Hammer Student Association, Hammer Interns, student professional development programs, and outreach to campus. The Hammer Student Association is an organization of undergraduates and graduates …
  • Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art [The Cleveland Museum of Art]The museum’s Contemporary Art department seeks applications for the position of Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. Working under the direction of the Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, the individual who is appointed to this position will assist in the stewardship, programming and development of the museum’s important holdings in this field. Candidates should possess a …
  • Assistant Chief Conservator, Collections Conservation and Housings [Preservation Department-Yale University Library] Preservation Department Yale University Library New Haven, CT Rank: Librarian 2-3 (Grades 24-25) Requisition: #21178BR www.yale.edu/jobs   Schedule:   Full-time (37.5 hours per week); Standard Work Week (M-F, 8:30-5:00)   Yale University offers exciting opportunities for achievement and growth in New Haven, Connecticut.  Conveniently located between Boston and New York, New Haven is the creative capital of Connecticut with cultural resources that include two major art …
  • Senior Curator of Exhibitions [Ohio State University] Job ID: 13411096 Position Title: Senior Curator of Exhibitions Company Name: The Ohio State University Job Function: Curator Location(s): Columbus, Ohio, 43201, United States Posted: May 10, 2013 Entry Level: No Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: Master’s Degree Min Experience: 3-5 Years   Apply URL:http://www.jobsatosu.com   Senior Curator of Exhibitions Wexner Center for the Arts Columbus, OH The Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University is seeking a Senior Curator to work in tandem with the center’s Director …
  • Multiple Positions [Please Touch Museum] Current Job Openings Community Outreach Coordinator (.DOC) Experience Host (.DOC) Membership Manager (.DOC) Retail Assistant-Part-Time 24 hrs/week & Temporary May to Aug 16 hrs/week (.DOC) Security Officer-Part-Time (.DOC) Security Officer-On-Call (.DOC) Learn more.
  • Media and Communications Editor [Society of Architectural Historians]SAH seeks a Media and Communications Editor to manage SAH’s non-scholarly print and online communications. The Editor will collaborate with SAH staff and leadership to develop communication strategies for promoting SAH’s major initiatives including its annual conference, study tours, publications, awards programs and public outreach. The Editor will strategize on media, marketing, communications, and branding. Learn more.
  • Digital Preservation Officer [British Library] Ref S&C00406 Location London, St Pancras Position Type Fixed Term Specialism Curators, Conservation and Reading Room Salary: £37,937-£44,059 per annum plus benefits                     2 years fixed term                     St Pancras, London                                                                   The future of information is digital, but unless we take action today, our digital collections may not be safe, usable, or even understandable in just a few years’ time.   The British Library is one of the …

1

Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Cinderella Ate My Breakfast

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 13, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp,

I did not have the chance to make my mom breakfast in bed this Mother’s Day. I had to go to Philadelphia to be a princess.

IMG_0942

The Please Touch Museum hosts an annual Mother’s Day Princess Brunch for Centennial Guild Members (i.e.: platinum level, or those who pay for the highest possible membership package). The morning is complete with omelets and pancakes made to order, flowers for the mothers, and early admission to the museum, so kids can play on the floor relatively undisturbed.

And, oh yeah, you can meet a princess.

Following Storybook Ball, I was drafted for a Tour of Royal Duty – my supervisor claims it’s because I have the necessary “bubbly enthusiasm” early in the morning.

I was cast as Sleeping Beauty, and spent the morning greeting children, asking them if they had “a good sleep with nice dreams” and discussing the importance of eating your breakfast so you can have the energy to play all day. It was a blast, and no small ego boost to have squadrons of little girls follow you around like you’re a rock star.

But when I was all finished Princessing and had slipped out of the tulle dress and back into my blue jeans, I suddenly felt conflicted. Had I done the right thing by agreeing to do this? What kind of role model was I being for these kids?

IMG_0962

My university-educated, progressive, egalitarian, feminist side was boiling mad. How could I – a girl who had put so much effort into my education, and who refuses to date men who choose my body over my brain – walk around smiling at kids pretending that none of it matters?

I typically agree with Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Orenstein posits that most women have a “princess complex,” where we fear aging into evil hags, will wait around for Prince Charming rather than adventure solo, and feel we need to meet certain societal conventions to be considered beautiful. (I could go on and on, but I’d rather you read more about it here, here or here.)

My inner feminist was freaking out, but my museum professional side took a deep breath.

In school we learn that part of being a good museum professional is to know your audience. What do they like? What do they want? What gets them excited?

Little girls love princesses. (And by the way, their brothers love princesses who freelance as international superspies, Jedi Knights and ninjas.)

If dressing up like a princess is what it takes to get a three-year-old girl to come to the museum, then so be it. It doesn’t mean that said princess has to sell the idea of needing a prince or that you have to be a certain dress size to be beautiful. Quite the contrary. This princess asked kids what their favorite exhibit was, and did they like coming to the museum, what’s the best part about Kindergarten and what books they like to read. She also told them that they were beautiful, especially with pancake syrup all over their faces.

922581_10100324148500675_1206592832_o

Interestingly, kids are more willing to share their toys (and breakfasts) with princesses, and kids who are normally really shy told me their life stories. Learning through play, for sure. If only they believed all their playmates were royalty.

My hope is that rather than creating girls with a princess complex, I’m helping to create museum advocates. Anything that helps to create a good memory in the museum – be it a Carousel ride or meeting a princess – creates the inroads for that little girl to ask to come back, or to go to another museum next weekend, or to even take out a membership years later when she has kids.

So I came to this conclusion: so long as you’re not violating the museum’s mission or promoting retrograde thinking, and you are working towards building a community in your museum, princess it up. Jump into that tulle dress, smile, sparkle and sell it.

Image

Where do you fall on this issue? Do you think it’s okay to have princesses in the museum? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 12, 2013 in museums in the news |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 10, 2013 in jobs listings, Uncategorized |

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

  • Education Curator [Aspen Art Museum] *About the Aspen Art Museum * The Aspen Art Museum is an accredited, globally preeminent, noncollecting institution that organizes and presents the newest, most important evolutions in international contemporary art through a dynamic exhibition program of ten to twelve shows per year. With an annual operating budget of over $3.1 million and staff of 28 professionals, the AAM is situated …
  • Kress Interpretive Fellowship 2013-2014 [Metropolitan Museum of Art]KRESS INTERPRETIVE FELLOWSHIP 2013-2014 Position Description: The Kress Interpretive Fellowship aims to cultivate students and young professionals interested in museum careers and focuses on curatorial and educational collaboration. The Fellow’s activities will focus on fostering connections between the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department’s historic British collections and the creative practice of contemporary design and architecture communities. The collections range in date …
  • Exhibit Content Developer [Museum of Science] Description Develop engaging, educational, accurate, accessible and relevant facilitated and un-facilitated museum experiences that effectively communicate their intended messages to a wide audience and that reflect input from the public, experts in the scientific and engineering community and from Museum staff. Collaborates with team members, project managers, other museums, and members of the community to develop …
  • Exhibition Curator [Atlanta History Center] Job ID: 13253385 Position Title: Exhibition Curator Company Name: Atlanta History Center Location(s): Atlanta, Georgia, 30305, United States Posted: April 25, 2013 Job Function: Exhibitions Entry Level: No Job Type: Full-time   Job Description The Atlanta History Center is looking for a highly motivated and results-oriented professional to fill a three-year position within the organization of Exhibition Curator. The successful candidate will be a strategic and innovative thinker, who demonstrates strong verbal and written communications …
  • Membership Manager [The Museum of Arts and Design] The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), the country’s premier contemporary institution exploring the intersection of craft, design and art, seeks an energetic membership professional to join the Membership team. The Museum is the country’s preeminent institution dedicated to the collection and exhibition of contemporary objects from these disciplines created in a variety of media. The …

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Museum Professionals 360°

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 6, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp,

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, then you may know that I spent Sunday morning at the Stainton Society’s Annual Brunch, which featured CNN journalist Anderson Cooper as a guest speaker.

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The Stainton Society is an Atlantic City-based medical philanthropy group and the annual brunch is their big fundraiser for a local medical center. The who, what, and why of how I got into is event is really neither here nor there, but if you’re friends with me in general, then you may know that I am a huge Anderson Cooper fangirl. That had something to do with it.

I say this with only a little bit of bias: Anderson was awesome.

“There’s a value to bearing witness to what people are going through,” he said. “I think it’s important to see people in remarkable situations and acknowledge it.” No, bearing witness does not change the course of events, he continued. But it does open our eyes to other places and situations, and prevent someone who has passed away from simply dissolving into history, as if he never existed at all.

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He went on to play to his audience, talking about how doctors and nurses bear witness to emotional, physical and medical extremes in hospitals – they see deaths and births, cure deadly diseases and deliver heartbreaking diagnoses. He then spoke about seeing war zones, of dealing with loss, of the people he’s met who remain optimistic, even in the direst of situations. On the surface, this all has nothing to do with me, or my profession.

But when it was all over, I had a strange thought: Anderson Cooper is a museum. (Specifically, I think he’s a history museum, but you can tell me if you disagree.)

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Anderson Cooper has dedicated his life to bringing others’ stories to the public. They are stories from people you will never meet, stories that you may never hear otherwise. Some of them are terribly sad. Some of them are amazing. Some of them are funny in their own way. He wants to inform people and to tell them the facts – it’s up to us to interpret those facts, form an opinion and make that story mean something.

What is your museum’s mission? Technically, it may be to interpret history or make artistic masterpieces accessible for a nominal fee. But isn’t it really to bear witness to an historical moment? To recognize the human capacity to create amazing works of beauty?

Museums collect things, but the true story is that of the person who owned or used them. Objects tell a story – like Anderson Cooper, it’s the museum’s job to root that story out and share it with the public. With any collected object or exhibit, we have to find the story, ask the tough questions, edit the content, package it for mass consumption and give people something to think about. Please remember this exhibit, museums ask visitors. Please make this story meaningful.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that in their own way, museums bear witness to the human condition and we as museum professionals are the reporters.

So what do you think? Is Anderson Cooper a history museum? Can history museums be Anderson Cooper?

Share you thoughts with me in the comments!

PS- I highly recommend reading Anderson’s book Dispatches from the Edge. In addition to giving insight into the lifestyle of a foreign correspondent, it may have helped inspire this column’s name. (Just a little.)

 

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

My pick of this week is this Sun Times piece about what we’re losing in the Field Museum’s budget cuts and how much more there is to natural history museum than what you can see for the price of admission.

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Exhibit opening next Monday!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 4, 2013 in events, tufts events |

Don’t forget: The Wonder Smith: Children’s Book Illustrations of Boris Artzybasheff opens with a public reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. next Monday, May 6.

This exhibition includes over 40 black and white works from the Boston Public Library’s John D. Merriam Collection. Through them, visitors can explore the artist’s creative and technical genius. Many are accompanied by excerpts from the stories they depict. Jump into the world of storytelling, early 20th century Russia and America, and children’s illustrations.

The exhibit is on view at the Tufts University Art Gallery in the Aidekman Arts Center at Tufts University. Learn more by reading the press release here.

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 3, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

But first, if you’ll be a Tufts student next year, check out this position at the Tufts University Art Gallery:

  • Visitor Services Ambassadors [Tufts University Art Gallery] The Tufts University Art Gallery is hiring Visitor Services Ambassadors for the 2013-2014 academic year. The newly created position of Visitor Services Ambassador combines the responsibilities of visitor service (welcome visitors and provide information about the Gallery and its programs) with those of gallery guide (engage visitors about the exhibitions) and security staff (monitor the …

And back to our regular listings!

  • Exhibit Content Developer [Museum of Science] Description Develop engaging, educational, accurate, accessible and relevant facilitated and un-facilitated museum experiences that effectively communicate their intended messages to a wide audience and that reflect input from the public, experts in the scientific and engineering community and from Museum staff. Collaborates with team members, project managers, other museums, and members of the community to develop …
  • Exhibition Curator [Atlanta History Center] Job ID: 13253385 Position Title: Exhibition Curator Company Name: Atlanta History Center Location(s): Atlanta, Georgia, 30305, United States Posted: April 25, 2013 Job Function: Exhibitions Entry Level: No Job Type: Full-time   Job Description The Atlanta History Center is looking for a highly motivated and results-oriented professional to fill a three-year position within the organization of Exhibition Curator. The successful candidate will be a strategic and innovative thinker, who demonstrates strong verbal and written communications …
  • Membership Manager [The Museum of Arts and Design] The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), the country’s premier contemporary institution exploring the intersection of craft, design and art, seeks an energetic membership professional to join the Membership team. The Museum is the country’s preeminent institution dedicated to the collection and exhibition of contemporary objects from these disciplines created in a variety of media. The …
  • Associate Curator of Education [Woodmere Art Museum] Woodmere Art Museum, located in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, is seeking candidates with expertise in art education for the position of Associate Curator of Education.  Woodmere’s mission is to inspire creativity, learning, and self-expression through experiences with the art and artists of Philadelphia and the region, and candidates who demonstrate a passion for …
  • Registrar [Oklahoma City Museum of Art] Job ID: 13313454 Position Title: Registrar Company Name: Oklahoma City Museum of Art Job Function: Registrar/Collections Management Entry Level: No Location(s): Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73102, United States Posted: May 1, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate Min Experience: 3-5 Years Required Travel: 0-10%   Mission: Supports Museum mission through all aspects of registration, collections care, department, budget development, exhibition coordination Basic Functions: The Office of the Registrar implements Museum policies and procedures encompassing acquisitions, loans, exhibitions, deaccessions, storage, packing …
  • Curator of African Art [Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University]Job ID: 13313045 Position Title: Curator of African Art Company Name: Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University Job Function: Curator Entry Level: No Location(s): Atlanta, Georgia, 30322, United States Posted: May 1, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: Ph.D. Min Experience: 5-7 Years Required Travel: 10-25%   Job Description The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University seeks an experienced professional and accomplished scholar to serve as Curator of African Art for its preeminent collection of sub-Saharan African …
  • Curator of Collections [The Menil Collection] The Menil Collection seeks a Curator of Collections dedicated to the research and interpretation of the museum’s holdings of non-Western art, most specifically those areas encompassing the cultures of Africa, Oceania, and the American Pacific Northwest. The Curator of Collections will supervise research and publication of works of non-Western Art, undertake original research, and provide scholarly …
  • Museum Educator [Tampa Museum of Art] Job ID: 13265878 Position Title: Museum Educator Company Name: Tampa Museum of Art Job Function: Education Entry Level: No Location(s): Tampa, Florida, 33629, United States Posted: April 26, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate Min Experience: 3-5 Years Required Travel: 0-10% The Tampa Museum of Art is currently accepting applications for a museum educator. The primary responsibility for this position will be the establishment of a new direction for the Museum’s engagement with its K-12 …
  • Manager of Collections and Exhibitions [Allentown Art Museum] The Allentown Art Museum seeks an experienced professional to manage its collections and exhibitions, including scheduling. This individual is responsible for all activities related to the care of the Museum’s collections, providing oversight and coordination of outgoing and incoming loans, and assistance in planning and installing permanent and temporary exhibitions.  Experience in both preparatory and …
  • Vice President, Education & Visitor Experience [San Antonio Children's Museum] Job ID: 13267948 Position Title: Vice President, Education & Visitor Experience Company Name: San Antonio Children’s Museum Job Function: Education Entry Level: No Location(s): San Antonio, Texas, 78201, United States Posted: April 26, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: Master’s Degree Min Experience: 7-10 Years   Background Founded in 1995, the San Antonio Children’s Museum (SACM) is the city’s only museum exclusively devoted to children under the age of 10.  With three floors of interactive exhibits …
  • Membership Manager [Please Touch Museum] Position Summary: Please Touch Museum seeks a Membership Manager to build and support the membership program.   Primary responsibilities will include, but not limited to: measuring and testing the effectiveness of membership marketing strategies; proactively establish new membership incentives and programs; managing the processing of new and renewal memberships through Siriusware; accurately maintaining membership records and membership database; …
  • Exhibitions Interactives Producer [The Field Museum] As part of the Exhibitions Media and Interactives team, the Digital Interactives Producer will create digital hands-on experiences for permanent and temporary exhibitions.  Working within a creative environment, the Digital Interactives Producer is accountable for all aspects of production–from conceptualization to programming and integration into exhibitions. Job Duties Responsibilities include: Conceptualization and production of digital interactives based on …
  • AHA Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives [American Historical Association] The American Historical Association is seeking a Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives. The Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives will oversee the AHA’s communications with members and other constituencies. This includes print and digital publishing, web design, information management, and membership – all part of a strategy to enable the American Historical Association’s programs …
  • BitCurator Community Lead [University of Maryland] Posting Details   Title: Faculty Research Assistant Functional Title: BitCurator Community Lead Position Number: 117047 Category Status: 15-Fac.Non-Tenured,Continuing Con Applicant Search Category: Faculty University Authorized FTE: 100.00 Unit: ARHU-MD Institute for Technology in the Humanities Hiring Range Minimum: $60,000 Hiring Range Maximum: $60,000 Campus/College Information: Founded in 1856, University of Maryland, College Park is the flagship institution in the University System of Maryland. Our 1,250-acre College Park campus is just minutes away from Washington, D.C., and …
  • Project Manager [Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities]The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland is seeking an experienced project manager who will provide coordination and management for research projects and initiatives in the digital humanities. The Project Manager will work with senior MITH staff to conceptualize, implement, and manage digital humanities research work in a collaborative, team-driven environment. The successful …

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Science in Museums: Science for All Ages

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on May 1, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Kacie Rice,

Museum educators, as proprietors of informal learning for all ages, often run into a unique dilemma: how do we create educational science experiences that cater to both kids and adults? I was recently having a discussion about this topic with fellow Science in Museums blogger Cira Brown and our classmate Rachel Hacunda – we noted that museums (especially science and history museums) have increasingly and explicitly catered to a younger audience in the last couple of decades, arguably to the detriment of their adult visitors.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m entirely in favor of museums teaching science to children! That’s kind of my thing! As a museum educator, I’m fully aware of and supportive of the need to use learning theory and childhood development principles in crafting free-choice educational experiences for children – but have science museums taken this concept too far? It often seems that science museums can be either for children or for adults, but not for both at the same time – and I’d argue that this is a big problem for the field. At best, it “dumbs down” science for kids; at worst, it alienates both kids and parents by providing an experience that they can’t equally participate in together. We absolutely need our science museums to be not only child-friendly, but also actively adult-friendly. It’s a win for everyone.

As a case study, let’s look at the two major science museums in the Boston area: the Museum of Science (MOS) and the MIT Museum. MOS is a place many Bostonians remember going as children and hope to take their children one day; the MIT Museum is a place where grown-up science enthusiasts go to learn about recent research at MIT. One of these is almost entirely child-oriented, the other is strictly for adults (the MIT Museum’s website even states up front that content is aimed at those over 12). They fill different niches, but this inherently means that neither of them can fill the needs of an entire family.

The major issue is that kids and adults don’t visit science museum in a vacuum: kids necessarily have to visit museums with their parents. Why, then, is the science museum experience so often only for the kids? And when adults can participate meaningfully, such as in MOS’ recent (and fantastic) Design Zone exhibition (aimed at a middle school age range, but fun for pretty much everyone) – how can we market these exhibits to let parents know that, yes, their children can learn a lot here, but so can they?

I’d argue that marketing and public opinion is a big part of what we’re dealing with – science museums are often lumped together with children’s museum in the public consciousness. They’re hands-on, they’re interactive, and they’re so often just plain fun: these are all things that read as for kids in our culture. Adults gaze silently at art, they read about current research, they want the deeper meaning behind events and objects, and they want to get these things from experts, not figure them out for themselves – these are all major barriers to getting adults to feel comfortable just playing in museums. But playing is a valuable way to learn throughout a person’s whole life. When we play and interact, we lose inhibitions, we are free to make decisions and judgments, we are ultimately free to think critically with no consequences – and this is the real stuff of learning! This is exactly how we teach kids in museums, and we’d love to be able to create these same experiences for the adults who accompany them.

Another driving force behind the ongoing kiddification of science museums is the increasing reliance on learning theory. Now, obviously learning theory is a great thing, and something we should absolutely be using as a tool in creating educational experiences – but we should be using it as just that: a tool. Not every exhibit needs to explicitly target Piaget’s Concrete Operational stage. Increasingly, science exhibitions are aimed at very specific ages (see the above example of Design Zone, aimed at young teens), and rarely do they target the adult audience, or even other kids. But as anti-vaccine debates, climate change denialism, and the emergence of creationism as a “valid alternative” to evolution show, adults desperately need to learn science too.

In casual conversations, I hear a lot about the “dumbing down” of science exhibitions. It seems that educators try to present material in a way that kids can understand, without realizing that kids can understand a whole lot more than we give them credit for. We worry about introducing difficult topics too early, but in my experience, kids can handle science. Kids don’t have the fear of science that adults often develop after years of schooling. If a certain kid can’t handle a certain topic at a certain time, they’ll get to it when they’re ready – and when they’re ready, they’ll have the background knowledge of having at least engaged with the topic before. It hurts no one to give people too much information, but it is a definite problem to withhold scientific content for the sake of remaining approachable for the lowest common denominator.

I think part of the problem here is assuming that people can only learn from those exhibitions, books, and lessons which are specifically aimed at them – but my experience has shown that this isn’t true at all. Personally, I remember visiting exhibitions “for adults” when I was a child – and I remember learning a lot from them! Even if I didn’t interact with the specific content the curators wrote in the labels, I remember seeing major works of art, huge dinosaurs, and recreations of the Battle of San Jacinto and being amazed that such things exist in the first place. When asked about memorable childhood museum experiences, adults will rarely cite carefully crafted age-appropriate interactives, but will talk at length about the Blue Whale at the American Museum of Natural History or the room of armor at the Metropolitan. These are displays that are minimally interpretive (sometimes a trait of adult-centered exhibitions), but that teach and inspire kids in intense, formative ways. And best of all: they’re exhibits that can give parents just as much joy and wonder.

We need to start thinking about what it is exactly that kids get out of museum visits – I’d predict that it would very closely align with what adults get out of them. It likely won’t be about the specific information imparted, but it can be about the experience of being around really cool stuff while doing really cool things – that’s something that all ages can get excited about! And, like play, it’s something that’s inherently educational at every level of development: isn’t that what we want out of a museum visit? The Higgs-Boson particle is inherently cool – we can’t assume that only particle physicists can understand it or relate to it. Show a kid a model of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and tell them what it does. Try telling kids about cosmology, organic chemistry, molecular biology. There’s no way that stuff isn’t awesome, no matter how old you are or what you know about science.

People just need to feel comfortable enough engaging with material, and “dumbing down” scientific content for a younger age isn’t going to accomplish this for anyone. Everyone can tell when he or she is being talked down to (and yes, even kids pick up on this extremely quickly). Let’s have faith in our multi-age audiences to engage with science. I’d be willing to bet that they’ll rise to the challenge.

 

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: No Fairy Godmother Required

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 29, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp

Last April, in a fit of ridiculousness, I declared myself Her Royal Highness, Madeline, Ice Princess of Pittsburgh and All Western Pennsylvania. My friends rolled their eyes, sighed, and obliged until the Pittsburgh Penguins were knocked out of Stanley Cup contention in the first round, thereby ending my reign supreme.

This year I did no such thing, but had I chosen to reclaim my Ice Princess title, the circumstances would have been far less ridiculous. You see, I was slated to attend the Please Touch Museum’s 5th annual Storybook Ball, a fundraiser where royal titles – along with ball gowns, knights in armor and a healthy imagination – are not only welcomed, they’re encouraged.

No, really. Some families got *way* into it.

No, really. Some families got *way* into it.

For the past twenty-eight years, the Please Touch Museum has hosted an annual book awards ceremony to honor modern and prolific children’s authors like David Ezra Stein (author of my beloved Interrupting Chicken), Mo Willems (Listen to My Trumpet, Book 17 in the Elephant and Piggie series), and Ame Dyckman (Boy + Bot).

But a ceremony of such importance is nothing without a celebration, and as any child will tell you, story books plus big celebrations can only equal one thing: a Royal Ball. In 2009, the museum decided to host an accompanying fundraiser; thus the Annual Storybook Ball was born. Museum members are invited to come to the museum dressed as their favorite storybook characters for an evening of age-appropriate play, character meet and greets, and of course, author-led story times, all in the name of celebrating great children’s stories and literacy skills.

Adorably, this year’s Ball played out like a prom for pre-schoolers – complete with knights and superheroes, princesses and fairies. And lest you think the kids were the only ones involved, I saw more than one grown set of Prince Charming and Evil Queen chaperones.

 

For the less whimsical in the crowd, Storybook Ball has done more than provide Please Touch Museum members with a night of escapist fantasy that ends happily ever after (provided there are no temper tantrums). As a fundraising event, the Ball has proven itself to be an increasing success and a model for future fundraisers. Some stats, for you bottom-liners out there:

  • Between 2012 and 2013, Storybook Ball has raised over $200,000 for the museum.
  • 1,400 people attended Storybook Ball in 2013.
  • Three authors/illustrators honored in the 2013 Book Awards ceremony attended the Ball.
  • Storybook Ball was listed as one of the Top Ten Things To Do in Philadelphia for the weekend of 4/20/2013 on philly.com’s weekly event calendar.

In short, this fundraiser knows its audience, and it knows its audience is growing. It’s more than your average dinner/silent auction/raffle ticket fundraiser, it’s more fun than your average black tie museum affair and it’s more than a meet-and-greet with your favorite authors at the bookstore. Storybook Ball is all of these things and more.

To quote a famous book loving princess – and Ball attendee! – this event had “far off places, magic spells, daring swordfights, [and] a prince in disguise” among other enchanting features. Props if you can “Name That Princess.” More props if you decided reading was cool as a kid because she liked to read, too.

I’m a hard sell on fundraisers, but I am absolutely looking forward to attending next year’s Ball. Here’s hoping Her Royal Highness the Ice Princess will dust off her skates to make an appearance.

No Ball is complete without a carriage. Members were offered rides around the building in this horse-drawn pumpkin, complete with Footman and commemorative photo.

No Ball is complete without a carriage. Members were offered rides around the building in this horse-drawn pumpkin, complete with Footman and commemorative photo.

 All photos courtesy of the Please Touch Museum

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 28, 2013 in museums in the movies |

Here’s our weekly round-up of our favorite things that were said about museums this week: the good, the bad, and the really quite strange!

But first, I was sad to hear of E.L. Konigsburg’s death this week. Her book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made a huge impression on me as a kid and is still inspiring kids today. (I know, I led a Mixed-Up Files tour at the MFA earlier this year!) Read the NYTimes blog post here: The Legacy of an Author Lingers at the Met

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Unofficial tours, taken to the next level: Hack The Met

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 27, 2013 in food for thought |

Here’s an interesting piece by GalleristNY about “Hack the Met,” a highly unauthorized tour operating inside the Met, drawing new, young, often-techie New Yorkers into a dialogue that covers everything from medieval armor and musical instruments to Thomas Gainsborough…. with flasks.

Mr. Gray, who grew up in Georgia and moved to New York in 2007, discovered the Met two years ago when a girl brought him there on a date. He began leading the tours after realizing how few young people frequent the museum. When he asks peers to name their favorite New York museum, MoMA will get a few nods, but apparently no one ever mentions the Met. “I met someone the other night who said, ‘the New Museum,’” Mr. Gray told the group with a pained expression. His mission, he said, was to make “the best museum in the world” hip for a younger crowd.

Read the article here.

 

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 26, 2013 in jobs listings |

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

  • Curatorial Assistant II [Harvard University Herbaria] Auto req ID 29195BR Business Title Curatorial Assistant II School/Unit Faculty of Arts and Sciences Sub-Unit ———— Location USA – MA – Cambridge Job Function Museum Time Status Full-time Schedule Monday – Friday 9-5pm Department Harvard University Herbaria Salary Grade 051 Union 55 – Hvd Union Cler & Tech Workers Duties & Responsibilities Harvard University Herbaria. In the framework of a larger digitizing project ‘North American Lichens and Bryophytes: Sensitive Indicators of Environmental Quality and Change’ the Herbaria …
  • Assistant Curator [The Jewish Museum] DATE: April 2013 DEPARTMENT: Curatorial/Program Division TITLE: Assistant Curator SCHEDULE: Full time REPORTS TO: Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Public Programs FLSA: Exempt DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES The Assistant Curator works under the direction of the Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs. Assistant Curators are charged with bringing creative and innovative ideas for temporary exhibitions, collection-based exhibitions, acquisitions and public programs to the table. Assistant …
  • Exhibit Developer [Harley Davidson Museum] Job ID: 13236263 Position Title: Exhibit Developer Company Name: Harley-Davidson Job Function: Exhibitions Entry Level: No Location(s): Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53208, United States Posted: April 24, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate Min Experience: 3-5 Years Required Travel: 0-10%   The Exhibit Developer participates in all facets of exhibit creation, from concept development through production and installation, working under the direction of the position’s supervisor and with project teams combining internal and contract personnel.   Job Requirements Education Required: Bachelors degree …
  • Curator of Research and Public Programs [Wisconsin Veteran's Museum] Job ID: 13242429 Position Title: Curator of Research and Public Programs Company Name: Wisconsin Veterans Museum Job Function: Curator Entry Level: No Job Type: Full-time Location(s): Madison, Wisconsin, 53701, United States Posted: April 24, 2013 Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate Min Experience: None Required Travel: 0-10% Salary: $35,291.00 – $43,848.00 (Yearly Salary)   Contact Person: J Lea Roberts Phone: 608-266-3344 Email Address: JLea.Roberts@dva.wisconsin.gov Apply URL: https://wisc.jobs/public/job_view.asp?annoid=65889… The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) is currently recruiting a Curator to work in Research and Public Programs at the Wisconsin Veterans …
  • Museum Manager [O. Winston Link Museum] Job Description The Historical Society of Western Virginia, a leader in cultural heritage tourism dedicated to preserving the rich history of western Virginia, seeks a highly motivated Manager for the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, VA. Opened in 2004 by the Historical Society of Western Virginia, the Link Museum focuses on the striking photographic and …
  • Managing Editor, ISAW [New York University] Position Summary: The managing editor guides and manages visual content and production of exhibition catalogues and didactics. ISAW intends to organize up to two exhibitions a year that will be accompanied by a catalogue and/or educational pamphlet. This material will be strongly scholarly in nature and heavily illustrated. The managing editor will function as the …
  • Youth and Family Programs Specialist [CM Russell Museum]TITLE:                         Youth and Family Programs Specialist   DEPARTMENT:              Education   REPORTS TO:             Education and Programs Manager   SUPERVISES:             Volunteers as needed   POSITION SUMM ARY: The Youth and Family Program Specialist is a full-time, 40-hour-per-week exempt staff position that reports to the Education and Programs Manager regarding educational activities related to youth, families, and schools for the C.M. Russell Museum. Flexible hours are required for occasional after-hours and …
  • Associate Curator of European and American Art [Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri] Job ID: 12239628 Position Title: Associate Curator of European and American Art Company Name: Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri Job Function: Curator Entry Level: No Job Type: Full-time Location(s): Columbia, Missouri, 65211, United States Posted: April 23, 2013 Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: Ph.D. Min Experience: 1-2 Years Required Travel: 0-10% Salary: $30,000.00 – $44,752.00 (Yearly Salary) Contact Person: Alex W. Barker Phone: 573-882-5075 Email Address: barkeraw@missouri.edu Fax: 573-884-4039 Apply URL: https://myhr.umsystem.edu/psp/tamext/EMPLOYEE/HRMS… The University of Missouri Museum of Art & Archaeology seeks an exceptional curator to interpret and …
  • Prospect Research Assistant [Brooklyn Museum] Overview The Prospect Research Assistant works in concert with the Manager of Development Operations and the Museum’s Development management team to conduct comprehensive and detailed donor prospect research on individuals, corporations and foundations and provides in-depth profiles and reports for gift prospects for the Museum. The Prospect Research Assistant will be a key resource to his or …
  • Visitor Services Assistant [Metropolitan Museum of Art] The Metropolitan Museum of Art seeks part-time Visitor Services Assistants. This position’s primary responsibility is running the Admissions registers and performing reliefs for the other cashiers.  This position also functions as a back-up for office personnel as well as to all areas of the Department, including the Information, and Group Registration Desks.  Other responsibilities include greeting, advising …
  • Deputy Director of Exhibitions [Taubman Museum of Art] Job ID: 13184938 Position Title: Deputy Director of Exhibitions Company Name: Taubman Museum of Art Job Function: Exhibitions Entry Level: No Location(s): Roanoke, Virginia, 24001, United States Posted: April 19, 2013 Job Type: Full-time Job Duration: Indefinite Min Education: Master’s Degree Min Experience: 5-7 Years Required Travel: 10-25% Taubman Museum of Art Deputy Director of Exhibitions The Taubman Museum of Art seeks an experienced museum professional to coordinate and manage a dynamic exhibition program. S/he will assume intellectual responsibility for the …
  • Research Associate [Rodel Foundation of Delaware] JOB DESCRIPTION The job description is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of duties of the position. Research Associates should expect to perform other related duties, as assigned by their manager. Job Title: Research Associate Reports To: Vice President – Policy & Practice Background: The Rodel Foundation of Delaware was created in 1999 with a singular mission to ensure all Delaware …
  • Program Officer [Rodel Foundation of Delaware] Located in Wilmington, Delaware, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware is a fast‐paced working philanthropy engaged in transforming the public education system with a dedicated team of talented and passionate people. The Foundation’s mission is to help Delaware create one of the finest public education systemsin the nation. JOBDESCRIPTION: Thisjob description is notintended to be an all‐inclusive list of duties and …
  • Assistant/Associate Curator [Monticello] Assistant/Associate Curator, Monticello.  The Thomas Jefferson Foundation seeks an Assistant or Associate Curator (depending on experience) to assist the Senior Curator/VP for Museum Programs in the achievement of the Curatorial department’s research and exhibition objectives.  Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Foundation is the private nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, the home and …
  • Archival Project Manager [Learning Matters] Learning Matters is seeking an Archival Project Manager for our New York office. We need a librarian, archivist, or experienced digital media specialist for a 2-part project.  Phase one is a needs assessment.  The ultimate goal is a fully searchable, digitized collection of interviews and b-roll of 90,000 hours of video about American education. About the …
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Science in Museums: Museums in the Virtual World

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 24, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Catherine Sigmond

Last week the Exploratorium officially re-opened in its 330,000 ft. new building at Pier 15 in San Francisco after a $300 million, multi-year construction project.

The new museum at Pier 15, which is three times bigger than the previous location at the Palace of Fine Arts, boasts an array of exciting new exhibits on all sorts of topics. Visitors can enter the rain chamber, where they select a famous past storm and stand as the exhibit recreates the frequency, size, and velocity of its raindrops, or “The Colors of Water,” where they can match the daily color of the San Francisco Bay and investigate what factors cause it to change from day to day.

But this science museum doesn’t just exist in the physical realm- it also has an extensive virtual presence. It’s not that the museum simply has a really great website with excellent teaching resources (which incidentally it does- check it out here). Rather, visitors searching for ways to engage with the museum without actually settling foot inside the new building can enter an entire virtual world that the museum created in Second Life and use it to engage with exhibits and attend regular public events through an avatar that they create.

In the SciLands region of Second Life users can explore Exploratorium Island and its sister island, ‘Sploland, allowing them to examine over 100 virtual exhibits all while using instant messaging, gestures, and chats to communicate with others. The experience is completely dependent on visitors’ curiosity and creativity.

The museum’s virtual reality blog, Fabricated Realities, features some of the experiments and events that take place in these virtual spaces as well as others that occur in the mash-up between the real and virtual worlds.

Once, for example, the museum streamed a rare transit of the planet Mercury live from the telescopes at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Kitt Peak, Arizona, into the International Spaceflight Museum site in Second Life. An international avatar audience had the opportunity to pose questions to an avatar staff member on stage who answered questions, while a three-dimensional model of the orbit of Mercury hung over the stage allowing avatars to fly up and examine the orbiting planet.

Many of the exhibits featured on the island are based off of real-life components in the museum itself, such as a series of ever-larger dominoes that visitors can push in order to explore chain reactions relating to force and motion. However Second Life also allows the museum to create exhibits that would be impractical or unsafe to build in a real physical space. One great example is a virtual exhibit where users can visualize a nuclear chain reaction by dropping a Ping-Pong ball on a series of mousetraps loaded with other Ping-Pong balls and watching as they are continuously set off.

It’s hard to imagine exactly how it all works without taking a look at it yourself. If you’re new to Second Life or just plain curious, take a look at this “machinima” (a film made entirely in the virtual world) made by the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute to highlight some of the cool exhibits and recent events in Second Life on Exploratorium Island and in ‘Sploland.

I’ll admit that at first I was a bit underwhelmed by some of the exhibits the video profiles. But as I kept watching I found myself more and more impressed by what I saw. The virtual space in Second Life could be great for prototyping new exhibit components, demonstrating large-scale scientific phenomena that would be difficult to recreate in a small room, and allowing both visitors and museum professionals from different parts of the world interact with one another.

For me, however, visiting the museum in Second Life will forever be second to a trip to the museum itself. Although there is a high level of social interaction on Second Life, it can never compare to seeing the reactions on people’s faces to the things they see and do in a science museum and the spontaneity of real conversation. I love that Exploratorium Island is a place where I can simulate what it’s like to orbit the Earth if I want to, but I’ll never be able to hold a bear skull in my hands or illuminate a light bulb by using my body to conduct electric charge like I can in real life.

So while it does have some cool features, I’m still undecided about whether or not I think this is something museums should devote a lot of time to.

How do you feel about museums in the virtual world? Is building a museum in Second Life something all museums should consider?

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“Facebook Home” paints a less-than flattering picture of museums

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 23, 2013 in food for thought |

Watch it online and don’t forget to read the comments. They’ll boost your spirits back up.

 

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