Eating in museums

We normally think of eating/drinking and museums as mutually exclusive, but here’s a couple of fun, local events this week that put that idea to rest:

  • For “Historic Beer in a Historic Place,” the Old State House is hosting Blue Hills Brewery for a chance to “taste beer, learn about pubs and drinking in the 18th century, and listen to a Blue Hills Brewery Representative speak about their delicious beer.”
  • The ICA’s “Talking Taste” program is billed as a time to “join Boston’s best chefs for Friday-night al fresco cooking demonstrations–and tastings! Learn trade secrets and sample delectable bites, all while enjoying breathtaking waterfront views of Boston Harbor from the ICA Grandstand.” This Friday’s chef is Alexander Crabb, Chef/Co-Owner of Asta.

“Modern Art, Ancient Wages”: MoMA Staff Protests and Museums as Employers

MoMa workers protest outside Party in the Garden benefit. Photograph: Stacey Anderson, from The Guardian

MoMa workers protest outside Party in the Garden benefit. Photograph: Stacey Anderson, from The Guardian

Last Tuesday was MoMA’s annual Party in the Garden, a benefit that honors artists and boasts an impressive VIP guest list. This year, the guests, who paid $25,000 to $100,000 per table, were greeted by dozens of museum staff with signs that read “Modern Art, Ancient Wages” and “MoMA, Don’t Cut Our Healthcare.” The protest, organized by MoMA staff and their union, is in response to proposed cuts to their healthcare plan. While there is a long and rich history of protesting MoMA, these actions highlight the politics of museum employment that extend far beyond MoMA’s midtown territory.

Art history is a strange field. Our scholarship focuses on a world full of very expensive objects with actual monetary values and still manage to produce volumes of fundamentally Marxist-dominated discourse. Art museums are steeped in cultural capital and often have correspondingly high admission fees (obviously, MoMA is no exception to this). However, the salaries of museum employees, the people who are responsible for the museum’s daily function, rarely correlate to the public view of museums as places of wealth.

Victoria Wong, a library assistant at MoMA, truthfully told Hyperallergic that “nobody gets a job at a museum to become a millionaire.” Unless you’re working at the very top, the museum world is overly competitive and underpaid (not the mention the gendered and racialized politics of who becomes directors). American artist Fred Wilson perfectly proved the disjuncture between the visibility and respect of different positions in the museum when he dressed in a guard’s uniform and was subsequently ignored by the visitors as part of his 1991 installation, Guarded View.

Black headless mannequins dressed as museum guards, from Fred Wilson's Guarded View. Image from Arts Observer.

Black headless mannequins dressed as museum guards, from Fred Wilson’s Guarded View. Image from Arts Observer.

So why do we choose to enter this field? Personally, I’m doing it because I genuinely care about preserving all material forms of history and displaying them for public access. And although the answer will undoubtedly vary between individuals, I’d bet we all have a honest connection and dedication to the true mission of museums. And if you follow the MoMA Local 2110’s instagram, you’ll get a taste of their undying love for MoMA’s collection, even while protesting. However, no institution should take advantage of its employees’ honest commitment without proper compensation. We talk a lot about making museums inviting and attractive to the public, but we also should hold them to the same standards as workplaces for employees.

New Co-Editors

It’s finally summer! The traditional academic year has finished, which means less papers, lots of summer internships, and – most importantly –  no more snow!!  We’d like to welcome all the new alumni, freshly admitted museum studies students, and the dedicated readers who have been with us here at the Museum Studies Blog all along. If you’ve been reading the blog recently, you know that our long-time contributor and editor, Tegan Kehoe, has graduated and is continuing her museum work at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of History and Innovation at MGH. We wish her the best of luck on her journey!

With that in mind, we, your new editors, would like to introduce ourselves and tell you a little bit about our plans for the blog.

About us

Meet Colleen

I am very excited to be touching the Washington Monument

I am very excited to be in such close proximity to the Washington Monument on my first trip to DC!

Hi, everyone! I’m very excited to be taking the helm of the blog with Jess.

A little about me: I’ve just completed my first year of the Museum Education Master’s program. Originally from the Midwest, I grew up in the Chicago area and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (what’s up, fellow Badgers?!). I lived in Madison for five years while studying secondary social studies education and trying my hand at teaching in a variety of communities .

Museum-wise, I am really into city museums, especially after working with the Chicago History Museum, as well as accessibility (in regards to both visitors and collections), visitor studies, and community engagement – although what museum educator isn’t into anything that includes the word “engagement?” Although history museums hold a special place in my heart, I am interested in the different ways in which education is viewed in all types of museums. Outside of museums, I am an avid reader, a history nerd, a runner, a baseball fan, and a pub-trivia-night enthusiast, among many other things.

Meet Jess

Returning Jumbo's ashes to the Sports Center after Jumbo: Marvel, Myth, and Mascot.

Happily returning Jumbo’s ashes to the Tisch Sports Center after Jumbo: Marvel, Myth, and Mascot.

Hi! Like Colleen, I’m excited to have inherited this blog from very capable predecessors! I’m really looking forward to continuing their project.

I recently finished my first year of the Art History and Museum Studies MA program. I came to Tufts right after completing my undergrad at Reed College in Portland, OR (good thing I grew up in Connecticut and can handle my snow!). Academically, I tend to focus on trauma theory and memory politics. In the museum world, this translates to working in collections management and the archives. I care about access, conservation/preservation, cataloging, and provenance. Given my background, I usually gravitate towards art and history museums, but am easily won over by the promise of a spectacle. Away from museums, I enjoy riding my bike, reading novels, and listening to NPR.

About our goals

Why are we telling you all of this? We’d like to be as transparent as possible as blog moderators and posters. By sharing our experiences and philosophies, we hope to allow all our readers to know where we are coming from when we write new posts. This way when you read a post, you can decide for yourself if what we’ve said rings true for you. We’re all about critical thinking and examining your sources here at Tufts! You can agree or disagree with us – we’d love to hear your opinions either way.

We have several personal goals for the blog, which we’d like to share with you in the interest of full disclosure. We would love to continue the community centered focus of the blog, and even increase it as a forum for discussion. We believe that the best ideas come from conversation with others, and our readership has such varied backgrounds, interests, and abilities, so we’re betting we will have very interesting discussions. (On a personal level, we also just really love seeing how each person can look at one topic or issue and see it in a completely different light.) Our goal is to provide a space for students and professionals to share their opinions, experiences, and ideas. Please do not hesitate to comment or share your thoughts, as long as we maintain our supportive atmosphere!

Along with discussion on current posts, audience input on future subjects and topics of discussion is an important goal of ours. This blog is intended to help museum studies students and museum professionals to stay connected and share ideas. If you have an idea for a type of post you want to write, a subject you want to read about more often, or even a blog or article you think we should check out, we would love to include your voice! You can check out the “About the Blog” section or just email us at tufts.museum.blog[at]gmail.com.

Survey

Finally, we would like to let you know that soon we will be emailing out a link through Angela Foss to a survey that we have created. The purpose is to help us evaluate the blog and to continue to serve our readership in the most effective way possible. We want to make sure that we are writing about the types of posts you are interested in, and on the subjects that you want to hear about. Please take a few moments to complete the survey when you get it – it will only serve to make the blog stronger!

Looking forward to exploring and discussing with all of you!

Colleen & Jess

Weekly Jobs Roundup!

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

 

Weekly Jobs Roundup!

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