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What is it like to work in a museum?

What is it like to work in a museum

Museums are cultural institutions designed to collect, preserve, and exhibit artifacts and artworks of historical, scientific, or artistic significance. They play a crucial role in the dissemination of knowledge, offering a space for reflection, learning, and appreciation of human achievement throughout history.

Additionally, museums also contribute to the preservation of cultural identity, acting as repositories of our shared past, and often serve as platforms for dialogue and critical thinking.

Every museum is different, but they do have some things in common:

  1. A focus on conservation – you’ll be protecting important pieces of heritage for future generations.
  2. You’ll need strong communication skills – to enhance public engagement and to interact with co-workers.
  3. A passion for culture – not only sharing it, but also respecting and preserving it.

Preserve and exhibit cultural heritage

Their primary purpose is to educate and inspire the public by providing a tangible connection to our collective heritage and fostering a deeper understanding of diverse subjects. Museums are usually found in the arts and recreation industry. There are lots of different kinds of museums, including art, science, history, and specialty-focused institutions.

Key tasks

  • Select, research, and arrange artifacts for display
  • Preserve and restore cultural and historical items
  • Develop and implement public learning initiatives
  • Organise and maintain museum collections
  • Interact with and guide visitors
  • Conduct studies to enhance understanding
  • Create visually compelling and informative displays
  • Promote museum programs and events
  • Secure financial support through grants or donations
  • Organise and oversee special events
  • Safeguard museum collections

You can expect regular hours and on-site work

Regular hours Work on-site  |  Jobs more common in metro areas  |  Strong job growth

The typical working hours for employees in a museum usually align with regular business hours. However, there might be exceptions, particularly during special events or exhibition openings, where staff may need to work outside these hours. Professionals involved in research, conservation, or other specialised roles may have flexible schedules to accommodate their specific responsibilities.

On-site work is more common in museums due to the nature of their activities, which often involve hands-on tasks such as curating exhibits, managing collections, and engaging with visitors.

Museums are more commonly found in metropolitan areas due to the increased population density and cultural diversity that cities offer. While some rural areas may have museums, there are usually more in large cities where there is a greater capacity for public engagement and support.

The Career Clusters you’ll find in a museum

People from all Clusters are needed for a museum to run successfully, but the most common Clusters you’ll find are Informers, Linkers, and Coordinators. In many roles, you might find yourself performing tasks across multiple Clusters.

What do Makers do in a museum?

Whether it’s ensuring exhibit displays are flawlessly presented, technical systems are operating efficiently, bringing curatorial visions to life, or the museum environment is well-maintained, Makers use a variety of tools and specialised knowledge to keep everything in top-notch condition. They also help to clean, restore, and preserve artifacts for display or storage.

  • Maintenance Technicians
  • Exhibit Fabricators
  • Conservators
  • Audiovisual Technicians

The role of a Linker in a museum

Linkers facilitate the visitor experience in museums, helping individuals navigate the exhibits, providing information about ongoing exhibitions, and assisting with membership inquiries. Some Linkers engage with local communities, ensure collections and exhibits respect local cultures, and promote traditional perspectives. Other Linkers promote the museum to the public via web, radio, print, and television.

  • Visitor Services Specialists
  • Outreach & Community Liaisons
  • PR & Marketing Specialists

Where you’ll find Coordinators in a museum

Coordinators in museums are responsible for a variety of administrative and managerial tasks. They handle budgetary considerations, oversee resource allocation, organise new acquisitions, coordinate educational programs, manage staff evaluations, and ensure compliance with regulations. They help ensure the smooth functioning of the museum’s events, systems, and overall economic landscape.

  • Curators
  • Operations Managers
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Event Coordinators

What do Informers do in a museum?

Informers use their extensive knowledge to enrich the experiences of both staff and visitors. Some engage in educational outreach, holding presentations or workshops to enhance visitors’ understanding of exhibits. Other Informers contribute their expertise to the development and curation of exhibitions, conducting in-depth research into the history behind exhibits.

  • Exhibit Developers
  • Educational Guides
  • Curators
  • Researchers

The role of Innovators in a museum

Innovators in museums use their creativity and forward-thinking to design unique gallery layouts, integrate new technologies into exhibits (such as augmented and virtual reality), and shape the overall aesthetic and ambiance of museum spaces. Their role is characterised by engineering, designing, and developing the places and things that make the museum a vibrant and engaging space for visitors.

  • Exhibit Designers
  • Technology Integration Specialists
  • Interior Designers & Architects

How do Guardians work in a museum?

Guardians help to ensure the health, safety, and overall wellbeing of both visitors and the museum’s collections. Some may oversee security measures, ensuring that valuable artifacts and exhibits are protected. Other Guardians implement and oversee health and safety protocols, or make sure spaces and thoroughfares are accessible to everyone.

  • Security Officers
  • Workplace Health & Safety Officers
  • Accessibility Officers

How do we expect working in a museum to change in the future?

The future of working in museums is set to be shaped by evolving technological, societal, and cultural trends.

Museums are already embracing digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience. Virtual exhibits, augmented reality, and interactive displays are becoming more common – this also means there will be a higher demand for professionals with expertise in digital curation, technology integration, and multimedia development.

With a growing global emphasis on sustainability, museums may adopt more eco-friendly practices. Jobs related to implementing sustainable practices, managing environmental impact, and creating exhibits centred around environmental themes could see increased prominence.

In response to global calls for decolonisation and a heightened awareness of the importance of respecting diverse cultures, museums are undergoing significant transformations in their approaches to collections and exhibitions. A crucial aspect of this evolution involves addressing historical injustices, including the return of stolen artifacts to their places of origin. They are also actively working to reinterpret narratives, challenging colonial perspectives, and embracing a more inclusive and nuanced portrayal of history and culture.

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