Help Me Get My Barbie Dream Job
January 23, 2011 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Can you give some advice on what to say in a "philosophy statement on museum education and exhibition" as part of a resume? The job for which I'm applying is a long shot for me, but I really do think I'd be a great fit for it, and I want a fighting chance to actually make it to the interview.

I've perused some of the AskMe questions on museum education, and I have a draft of this thing in the works, but I'm wondering if any MeFites might have some suggestions as to specific concepts that any good candidate for a "Director of Public Programs" job would know. I have little direct museum experience, but I fit the bill otherwise. So, can you give me a quick rundown or point me to some useful websites? What will they be looking for?
posted by madred to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The IMLS site might be worth checking out for philosophy-type stuff.
posted by pantarei70 at 6:21 PM on January 23, 2011

The IMLS has just had a new director appointed - Susan Hildreth. Googling for "new imls director" brings up some pointers to mission statements and so on.

I would try and find if folks in similar positions at museums, see if their cvs are online, and see what they say.
posted by carter at 4:28 AM on January 24, 2011

Oh and maybe some kind of commitment to/experience with evaluation, especially some kind of program- and/or outcomes based evaluation.
posted by carter at 4:31 AM on January 24, 2011

Best answer: I'm friendly with the director of public programs at the museum where we work. She works all the lectures, performances and concerts, which often take place after her usual 9-5 hours, so I think you could emphasize your flexible schedule.

Public speaking abilities would be key, since you will be introducing people at symposia and concerts.

An active interest and engagement with current trends in art history, if this is an art museum (for instance, if there was going to be a conference on Picasso, who would you invite? Who's doing the best scholarship these days? Who will bring in the crowds?). Likewise, become familiar with the collection highlights in the museum. You should have something to say about how these objects can be elaborated with guest dancers, thematic lecture series, etc.

Knowledge of/ability to balance and monitor budgets would be important, especially in this economic climate.

Ability to manage other workers. As director you would have a few underlings.

Essential: knowledge of audio-visual equipment such as microphones, wireless lapel mics, powerpoint, projectors, etc.

As director you will probably be asked to come up with some concepts for lecture series based on current exhibits.

Don't forget, you love working with the public. For a sold-out lecture or performance, you'll be able to work crowd control in an organized and friendly manner. You may be selling tickets. You may need to work with security to get things done. Good luck!
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:31 AM on January 24, 2011

"Public Programs" is sometimes a code word for diversity programming. Getting folks who don't usually come to museums into the space. If you have any diversity programming background or community building background, I would refer to that.
posted by hworth at 6:05 AM on January 24, 2011

Well, you can do all this sort of research, but the fact remains that you should have a philosophy yourself of what public programs at a museum should entail.

Many museums across the U.S. (I will not name names) are suffering in audience, attendance and actual community value because they have, over the past decade or two, been obstinate about not reaching out to young people, to students and to communities of color. Many museums have left behind constituencies that they should be courting.

Similarly, many museums are physically located in the downtown of cities yet refuse to engage those that live in the urban part of the city. By which I mean: most museums seem to be afraid of black people, poor people and the people who live nearest to them and would make use of the museum if it engaged them, which would then make the museum a vital place for arts education, community involvement and would increase attendance and also increase news and prominence of the museum.

For examples of what to do, at least in this regard, you could look at Arnold Lehman's career from Baltimore to the Brooklyn Museum. (He has his detractors as well!) For examples of what not to do... well there are a number of big-city American museums who have failed to engage various communities.

You should also read up on public statements and giving by trustees of the museum, so you know what the pressures on the director and the staff are.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:09 AM on January 24, 2011

« Older Help needed for an aggressive cat that will be...   |   What are legal aspects of changing one's name to a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.