Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Author: Ellie Harrison (Page 2 of 2)

Museum Job Roundup 11/6/23

Welcome to the weekly roundup! We do our best to collect the latest job openings and welcome submissions from the community. For more opportunities, we recommend the following databases:

Featured Job

Collections Manager at The Bass Museum (Miami Beach, FL)

Full Time, yearly salary $50-60k

The Bass, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum, seeks a full-time Collections Manager. The Collections Manager is a key member of the Curatorial and Exhibitions team supporting the documentation, care, and presentation of the permanent collection and loans for temporary exhibitions. Key responsibilities include the management of transportation of works of art, applying experience with insurance papers, contracts, and associated legal documentation. The Collections Manager communicates efficiently with a range of constituents at the Museum and beyond while multitasking responsibilities and commitments. The Collections Manager will apply best museum practices for archiving, storing, and maintaining works of art. For a full description of this position and applicaiton information, please see the listing on our website: https://thebass.org/jobs/





The Met, Manet, and the “Scandal” in the Great Hall

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (referred to as the Met) is a traditional art museum founded in 1870 by artists and the elite of New York City. The stairs one must climb to simply get in always reminded me of some kind of art centered pilgrimage. In college, this was a place of wonder, a safe haven, and the ideal place to cry in public on a Thursday morning (a story for another time). But lately, this legacy of prestige and tradition is at odds with the most recent Great Hall commission by artist Jacolby Satterwhite. The Met has a long history of picking and choosing when they make statements about their operations, support of different communities, provenance challenges, and when long held beliefs about what a museum is and should be are challenged. 

The latest addition to this history of controversy is “A Metta Prayer”, a video installation piece by Satterwhite, that takes the concept of the Buddhist metta prayer and turns it into an affirmation of self. Satterwhite is a black, queer artist who is interested in the intersection of humanity and the digital world. “Metta Prayer” is an audio/visual experience in which 3D scans of himself, dancers, drag wrestlers, Solange Knowles, and even a selection of objects from the Met’s collection have been made to move and interact like a video game playthrough. There is a soundtrack as well, described by the New York Times as “an acid house beat”. This would all seem like a harmless enough display for the city of New York, but many parents in the Upper East Side neighborhood have been raising concerns over the words and imagery that children are exposed to as they see the piece. Many have claimed the costumes worn by the performers to be satanic, and the use of the word “fuck” to be inappropriate for a museum. But perhaps the most ironic thing about this whole situation is that parents are up in arms about a new piece of art but are completely fine and even excited to take their children into the Manet/Degas exhibition only a few galleries away. 

Inside the exhibition is perhaps one of the most scandalous paintings of the 19th century: Manet’s “Olympia”. When it first debuted at the Salon in 1865, it drew ire from the public. The pose and setup of the image was akin to a traditional reclining Venus (think Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”) but the woman is clearly a courtesan and she is staring directly at the viewer, as if to make them uncomfortably aware she knows they are looking. In 1865 this was the most salacious thing to be put on the Salon walls – this woman was not a reflection of the goddess Venus; she was a prostitute. Even though most models for painters at the time were sex workers, keeping the visual cues of what she was paid for (the flowers, robe, etc.). Viewers at the time were so up in arms about the work that extra security had to be brought in so that fights would stop breaking out. However, this painting is now best known as a masterpiece by a forward-thinking artist. The image is a nude woman that is aware she is being watched. The questions this all leaves me to ponder are the following: how much time does a work need to go from scandalous to inventive? Why is it that parents view nude paintings on the walls of the Met as educational and classy, yet this new piece (which does not show any breasts or genitals) as “satanic” and “trying to indoctrinate children”? 

The closest I have come to a real answer to either came from some excellent points made by TikTok user @meelzonart in a video that points out all the parallels of scandal between the two pieces. My biggest takeaway from this whole situation is that there is no real answer to these questions; there is only context and framing. When “Olympia” first debuted, she was seen as a blight to art. However, since we now experience her within the context of world-renowned art museums, she must be a great piece and have greater meaning. But meaning also comes with age and reflection. In a world that is full of crop tops, “booty enhancing” leggings, and more exposed bodies seen regularly by the public, the scandal of “Olympia” seems almost trivial, like an exposed ankle in the Victorian era. But with the more modern context of video games, queerness, and the emphasis on making POC voices heard in the museum, perhaps the reflection of the world in “Metta Prayer” is an uncomfortable confrontation between modernity and the more traditional hallowed space of the museum. Maybe Satterwhite has just given us a new “Olympia”. 

Museum Job Roundup 10/16/23

Welcome to the weekly roundup! We do our best to collect the latest job openings and welcome submissions from the community. For more opportunities, we recommend the following databases:






From the Intern’s “Desk”: First Edition

Hello Readers! 


My name is Ellie, and I am one of the blog editors this year. As you may know, there is a very fun and very much required part of the Tufts Museum Studies program – a supervised internship (practicum). I am doing mine this fall, and wanted to document it for posterity and so this can serve as an invitation to the community. My hope is that this is not just a series of pseudo diary entries from me, but also from other interns in the community that feel comfortable sharing their experience. Internships are all about learning and experiencing the ins and outs of the museum. In my case, I am learning all about how the DAPP (Department of Academic and Public Programs) office works at the Harvard Art Museums. 


Education has been a passion of mine for some years now and the Museum Education program was a perfect merger of my favorite two things: teaching and old things. Since starting the program a year ago, I have learnt so much: how the Massachusetts public school system works, how museums navigate their 501(c)(3) status, and how to construct the all-important lesson plan. I am filled to the brim with theoretical and pedagogical knowledge and have been itching to try out some more practical applications. I had a taste of what it is like to be a permanent educator at the Addison Gallery of American Art this past summer, but for my practicum I wanted to work on something that would outlive my time in the museum. 


Thanks to the support of my lovely supervisor, my project will do just that. I am interviewing different departments of the museum and putting together a resource for museum visitors that will give them tools to understand the galleries, objects, and overall institution better. This past week I got to talk to curators about how they write labels, and I would never have thought a conversation about something as simple as a 150 word explanation of a piece of art could be so exciting and full of controversies. In conversations we have talked about how labels are written, how they get changed, and a surprising controversy about font sizing. 


Another fun and exciting part of my work as an intern at HAM is professional development with the Graduate Student Teacher (GST) cohort. They come from different countries, backgrounds, and programs around the university. Every Wednesday morning, we discuss methods of teaching in the museum and how to make the space welcoming and accessible to young and old audiences alike. It has been so much fun getting to know these incredible women and talking about what I have learned in my program – somehow, I am both an intern and a resource for lesson planning. It has been so refreshing to not be a teacher but still working in educational programming. While my project is less forward facing than a guided visit, I am so excited to learn more about the HAM and continue writing a resource that can be used by others in the future. 


As I close out my first entry to this series, I want to invite anyone else who is/was a recent intern to share their experiences with us! We would love to make this blog into a resource for future interns so they can get a sense of what to expect while doing their practicum. If you have a story to share, don’t hesitate to reach out. Also, if you have questions, we would love to post an “Ask an Intern” article too!

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