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What kind of staff do small museums need?

Posted Jan 08 2010 7:52am

Can’t resist forwarding a query from Keni Sturgeon, curator at Mission Mill Museum (a textile museum in Oregon), on the ACUMG-list. Keni, who also teaches museum studies at Western Oregon University, is in the midst of planning “a graduate course on Small Museums” and would like some input from other small museums, especially college and university museums/galleries:

So, if you were in a position to hire a new, entry level employee fresh out of a museum studies program in grad school, what things would you want them to know about working in a small museum? What would be the top three skills they could come with? In what ways do you see small museums as being different from mid-large size museums and how does that difference impact your job?

Good question — what kind of skills do we look for when interviewing applicants for jobs in a small university museum like ours?

  • We cannot afford to hire people who are too specialised; a small museum curator needs to be a jack of all trades.
  • At the same time he/she must be a master of at least one trade to uphold general academic-curatorial standards.
  • All museums want staff with excellent collaborative skills — but for a small museum the lack of such skills is a disaster.
  • Academic-curatorial staff in small museums is expected to be willing to do all kinds of jobs, from cleaning artefacts for the next exhibition (which always opens next week) to writing trail-blazing academic articles in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals.

What else are we looking for?

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