How much do you know about museums? Here are ten interesting tidbits about the field.
1. Most museums, unless privately owned, are a 501c3 non-profit, which is an IRS designation for a tax-exempt organization. To qualify, the organization must be religious, charitable, scientific, educational, amateur sports or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
2. Museums are NOT PERMITTED to give you an appraisal value for your donation. You must seek out a qualified appraiser to determine the value of any artifact you donate.
3. Every museum has a Mission Statement that provides purpose and direction for the organization. All of a museumís activities, including programs, events and collecting, should relate to its mission.
4. The museum field is a rewarding career choice, but not a lucrative one. Salaries are generally higher at art museums vs. history museums, and at large institutions or in big cities.
5. Museum staff members wear white cotton gloves to prevent hand oils from damaging artifacts. You may not see your fingerprint now, but over time the oils in your hands can cause deterioration, especially on textiles, paper and metal artifacts.
6. Volunteer tour guides in a museum are called docents. Many small and medium sized institutions do not have the budget to hire a staff of paid guides. These museums rely on volunteers to lead tours for student field trips and adult groups.
7. A Deed of Gift is the paperwork that officially transfers legal ownership from the donor to the museum. Artifact donations are tax deductible in the calendar year in which they were donated.
8. Each artifact in a museum is assigned an accession number when it is officially added to the collection. The number is made up of three parts: the year of the donation, the donorís unique number, and the number of artifacts within the donation.
9. Museum education departments are increasingly important as museums shift the focus from collecting to public programming. A few decades ago, museums were not visitor-friendly like most are today. With a focus on educational activities, museums have increased attendance and visibility within the community.
10. Museum membership programs provide many benefits to the individual while helping to sustain the museumís operating budget. You will often receive free admission, a discount in the museum store, and advanced notice of all museum exhibits and programming.