Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 49)

Identity: Who are we in museums?

Throughout this semester, I had the opportunity to work with my peers to develop an interpretive project mostly from scratch. I emphasize the word mostly here because we were fortunate enough to find inspiration from Tufts’s very own Art Datathon, an event hosted by the Tufts University Art Gallery that explored the ways data in museum collections is not as objective as we assume it is.

For me, this class was the culmination of my time in this program; it was a blend of old and new knowledge, a chance to practice skills I already had and more importantly, a chance to develop those that I really struggled with. While working on this project, there were a lot of hurdles that made me question how I really fit into the museum space. What kind of educator do I want to be? What biases do I carry into my own interpretive styles? It was cathartic, especially as I near the end of my time as an editor for this blog and a student in this program.

The project itself, Obscured Identities, challenges the collections database at Tufts University Art Gallery using questions similar to those I asked myself. Our group looked at these objects, looked at the data, and asked ourselves if this data truly represents their story. Can we really say that the data is objective and without bias? Interpreting these objects and their reported data revealed that no, we can’t really assume those things. For some of us, this was difficult to grapple with. It took a lot of introspective reflection and creativity to begin telling these stories, interpreting these objects, not just through the data available, but also the data missing. One piece I worked closely with is Justice Ofoni’s “Best in Haircut” which is a barbershop sign from Ghana. Perhaps the biggest story we pulled from the data was the cultural identity stripped from this piece. According to the art gallery’s database, “Best in Haircut” is culturally African. Yet, we also know that the piece is from Ghana; so why do we reduce this cultural identity to the broad scope of an entire continent? These stories and challenges were the core of our project, which materialized through a virtual exhibit using StoryMaps.

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“Best in Haircut” by Justice Ofoni

I’m grateful for this project and the experience it offered me, and I’m even more grateful for my peers who supported each other throughout its development. 

To learn more and see the final exhibition, you can view it here on StoryMaps.

Looking for a *Revolutionary* Summer Job in Boston?

As I approach my graduation from the History and Museum Studies program here at Tufts, I’m reflecting on the past two years — on all I have learned and experienced, the ways I’ve grown, the incredible people I’ve met, the powerful museums I’ve visited. I’m also reflecting on my time as an editor on this blog, which, all too quickly, is also coming to an end.

Astute readers may remember that my first post as History editor, way back in June 2021, was about one of my favorite museum experiences in Boston: an afternoon at the Old State House. Most commonly known as the building that loomed over a group of British soldiers and American colonists on March 5th, 1770 during the infamous Boston Massacre, it’s an impactful place even just to see in person.

The Old State House — one of my favorite places in Boston.

One can imagine, then, what a thrill it is to be at this museum every day, surrounded by its rich history and immersed in its vision for the future, characterized by true equality and the fulfillment of the American Revolution’s promises for, at last, all people.

For the past several weeks, that has been my experience — I’m working as a supervisor on the retail team at Revolutionary Spaces — and it could be yours, too. I feel as though I have come full circle, from writing about this museum I love to working in it. And the good news is that they are still looking for many more people to join the team! In preparation for their always-busy summer season, Revolutionary Spaces is currently hiring people in numerous departments.

The beautifully reverent Old South Meeting House, where famous congregants included Phillis Wheatley, Ben Franklin, and Sam Adams — and where the latter gave the signal for the Sons of Liberty to storm the harbor and commence the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

An organization that formed in early 2020 when the Bostonian Society and the Old South Association merged, Revolutionary Spaces seeks to bring “people together to explore the American struggle to create and sustain a free society” by stewarding both the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House. As the seat of colonial British governance and a chosen gathering place of American revolutionaries, respectively, these two historic buildings exist in perpetual conversation with one another. Visitors gain admission to both sites when they buy tickets, allowing them to explore reverent, engaging exhibits and talk with passionate, knowledgable staff. Through interpretation of the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House, Revolutionary Spaces provides a truly unique Bostonian and American experience.

If you are interested in becoming a part of this special organization, consider applying to one of the many positions they have open this summer! Check out these links to learn more about how to apply for the positions of Retail SupervisorRetail Staff, Development Manager, and Development of Marketing & Communications. On the historic interpretation side, the visitor experience staff is also hiring!

Not a bad view on the walk to work, in my opinion.

I have only been working at Revolutionary Spaces for a few weeks, but I already feel so welcome and inspired by the special community they have created. If you like the idea of spending every day immersed in the world of the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House, I highly recommend applying to Revolutionary Spaces.

Weekly Job Roundup

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Tufts Museum Studies at the Boston Athenaeum

One of the Boston Athenaeum’s reading rooms.

Earlier this month, several Tufts Museum Studies students made their way downtown to check out the Boston Athenaeum! Established in 1807, the Boston Athenaeum is both a library and a museum, boasting an impressive collection of both books and art. The institution’s present location at 10 1/2 Beacon Street—between Boston Common and Granary Burying Ground—was completed and opened to the public in 1849, and today the Boston Athenaeum welcomes researchers and visitors alike.

In the Boston Athenaeum’s book stacks, a gap between the floor and the shelves reveals just how many floors of books the library owns!

During our trip to the Athenaeum, we were treated to a private tour by Director of Education Hannah Weisman. After exploring all five floors of the library (including the many floors of book stacks—see the picture at left!), we got to view a few fascinating items from the Athenaeum’s archives: everything from early printed books to historic maps to Civil-War-era photo albums. Another highlight included checking out a collection of books owned by George Washington!

Overall, the Boston Athenaeum is definitely worth a visit. Learn more about their hours and admissions here! And if you can’t make it to the Athenaeum in person right away, definitely check out their rich Digital Collections.

We’re looking forward to many more Museum Happenings in the future—next up, a trip to the MassArt Art Museum to check out Joana Vasconcelos’ installation Valkyrie Mumbet!

 

Job Opportunity — Executive Assistant at the Mark Twain House and Museum

See below for an exciting opportunity ideal for a recent Museum Studies graduate, shared with us by Tufts Museum Studies faculty member Ken Turino!


The Mark Twain House & Museum – Executive Assistant

The Executive Assistant is a Full-time (non-Exempt) new position that supports the Executive Director and the Board of Trustees. This person is a crucial link between those two entities, providing communication, logistical support, and adding a crucial strategic eye towards the ebb and flow of the organization.

As the ED is also the chief fundraiser to the organization, this position will assist in various development activities in collaboration with the ED, the Development Director, and the Board President.

  • Maintains flow of information and work into and out of the ED’s Office.
  • Maintains all board and trustee records.
  • Coordinate Board-related special projects or events.
  • May assist Finance office at peak times.
  • As regards HR — Reviews applications, conducts initial screening of applicants in collaboration with various hiring managers.
  • Maintains records of board giving and works closely with the Director of Development to solicit annual board gifts.
  • Works with the Development Department on the annual campaign.
  • May act as a relationship manager with certain donors.

The successful candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree with relevant work experience. They should enjoy working with people and partnering with volunteers. Strong organizational skills are a must and the candidate should have the ability to prioritize and organize multiple activities. The executive assistant will possess accuracy and attention to detail with the ability to work effectively under pressure and meet deadlines. Good verbal and written communication skills are important as is the ability to work effectively with minimal supervision, and the ability to treat confidential information with appropriate discretion. Proficiency with Zoom, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, and other virtual meeting platforms will be expected.

The Executive Assistant must have the ability to work successfully with all people in contact with the organization without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origins, or disabilities.

This is a 35 hour per week position that works on site. Some evening and weekend hours may be required. Candidates will be required to submit a writing sample or to complete a brief proofreading/editing test. Must have ability to climb stairs and lift up to 30 pounds, and possess a valid driver’s license and access to a car.

To apply: Send a resume and letter in confidence to Michael Campbell, Human Resources, at Michael.Campbell@marktwainhouse.org.

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