Types of Museum Jobs
Specialized museums will have specific positions such as historians, art historians, geologists or archeologists. Most museums will also have positions found in many other careers, such as office managers, shop managers, and marketing specialists.
The following are some of the major positions you will find in a typical museum:
An archivist takes care of the museum’s works on paper, including photographs, documents, newspapers, and other items. He or she may also work with the public to answer research requests and with other members of the staff to provide support for exhibitions and programming.
The collections manager is responsible for ensuring the safety and integrity of the collection through proper storage conditions and detailed documentation for each artifact. The collections manager creates collections policy, identifies gaps in the collection, and makes recommendations for acquisitions and deaccessions.
Conservators have scientific training which teaches them how to repair and clean artifacts, as well as provide preventative treatments to minimize future damage. Only a large museum will have a conservator on staff. Most work in private practice and are contracted for projects with a variety of institutions.
A curator, in short, cares for the collection. The job title may be applied to a specific specialty, such as the Curator of 19th Century Art, or it may be a general term for the person who is responsible for the museum’s collection. At a small museum, a curator wears many hats and will be in charge of anything from donation paperwork to exhibition content and design. The curator can be the registrar, collections manager and director of exhibitions, all rolled into a single position. At a larger institution, the curator will focus more on connoisseurship of a specific collection, topic, or historical time period.
A museum’s director functions as the CEO of the non-profit organization. Responsibilities include fundraising, human resources, and day-to-day management of the staff and budget. He or she serves as a liaison between the staff and the board of trustees.
Director of Education
Sometimes known as the Curator of Education, the Director of Education is responsible for public programming and tours in a museum. At a smaller institution, the Director of Education will give tours, create programs, and handle the group schedule. At a larger facility he or she will be responsible for coordinating a staff of museum teachers and will likely take on a more scholarly role focused on education standards and tour development.
Director of Exhibitions
A director of exhibitions works to develop the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibition plan. He or she will work with the archivist, curator, collections manager and registrar to coordinate the safe use of artifacts and documents for display. He or she may also be responsible for graphic design, fabrication, and installation.
The museum’s registrar is responsible for the paperwork related to the collection. This includes temporary custody agreements, deeds of gifts, incoming loans and outgoing loans. This position can also be responsible for cataloging the museum’s collection.
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