Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Joyful Museums: Why They’re Important and How to Build Them

Marieke Van Damme is Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Society and one of the voices on the podcast Museum People. She also runs Joyful Museums, a website and project committed to “inspiring positive workplace culture.”

As museum workers and students, we all know the positives of working in museums – jobs that we are passionate about, organizations that make a positive difference in the world, always having interesting stories at parties, etc.

But we also know the common downsides of working at many museums – too much work, low salaries, an underfunded organization that leads to fewer resources and low job security, etc…

It is not uncommon for people to leave the museum field because they need better work/life balance, job security, and/or financial security than their museum can provide. For those who stay in the field, these  stressors can have a negative impact on workplace culture, personal lives, and employee engagement – impacting productivity and success.

Enter Joyful Museums. This project sets out to explore the state of employee engagement within museums, start conversations on workplace culture, and provide resources and data to help museums improve and utilize their employees’ joy.

In Marieke Van Damme’s words, museums are doing great work for their communities, but,

Still, each year, museums across the globe experience funding cuts. We talk about how this is an issue, but we don’t talk about what it means to be a worker in museums under these circumstances.

What about them? How are we ensuring our museum employees come to work each morning energized, engaged, and ready to take on their ever-growing list of tasks with shrinking funds?

I believe that keeping its workers happy should be the top priority of every museum.

Engaged museum workers will have a deeper commitment to the mission of a museum than a disengaged one, and they will strive for a higher quality product (exhibition, program, publication, etc.) for the public.  Building off of the growing academic field of positive psychology, I intend to explore what being happy at work means, why it is important for the museum community, and how it can be accomplished.

How engaged are your employees and coworkers? How engaged are you? Check out Joyful Museums for statistics, conversations, and resources on being a happier worker and building a more engaged workforce. We have a lot to lose by ignoring these conversations, and a lot to gain from having them.

Weekly Jobs Roundup

Here’s your weekly roundup of new jobs! Happy Hunting!

New England





Call for Papers: Fields of Conflict Conference, Mashantucket, CT


$200 for best high school student poster
$300 for best undergraduate student poster
$400 for best graduate student poster
High school students and currently enrolled full or part-time undergraduate and graduate students
The poster abstract is due May 1st by 5:00p.m. and the final poster must be submitted no later than September 26, 2018 at 8:00a.m. Please email your poster abstract to Ashley Bissonnette at and include “FOC Student Poster” in your subject line. Poster topics must include new perspectives regarding battle field archaeology or conflict studies.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the award, how to apply, evaluation criteria, requirements and
your research please contact Ashley Bissonnette at Students
are welcome to use research materials at the museum upon appointment. For conference details
and registration, please go to

26-30 SEPTEMBER 2018

Event Invitation at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology – April 18

Wednesday, April 18, 6:00 pm
Unseen Connections 
A Natural History of Cell Phones

Joshua A. Bell, Curator of Globalization, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Cell phones are among people’s most prized possessions. They play an important role in daily life, facilitating everything from communications with others to the recording of social experiences and emotions. Despite the importance and ubiquity of cell phones, few people know how these devices are made or what happens to them after they are discarded. Using an anthropological lens, Joshua Bell will discuss the international network of relations that underpins the production, repair, and disposal of cell phones and the emerging social implications of this network at both global and local levels.

Lecture. Free and open to the public. Presented by Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street. Free event parking at 52 Oxford Street Garage.

This event will be livestreamed on the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture Facebook page. A recording of this program will be available on our YouTube channel approximately three weeks after the lecture.

Weekly Jobs Roundup!

Here’s your weekly roundup of new jobs! Happy Hunting!

New England





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