State of Affairs - An Economy of Museum Work Today

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From "State of Affairs - An Economy of Museum Work Today" paper presented on panel "Critiquing the Show" at the 2013 Council of American Jewish Museum's Conference, New York, New York, February 2013.

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State of Affairs - An Economy of Museum Work Today

  1. 1. State  of  Affairs  Zachary  Paul  Levine,  Curator  at  Yeshiva  University  Museum  An  Economy  of  Museum  Work  Today    InerCa  vs  ReinvenCon:  Why  “Business  as  Usual”  No  Longer  Works  CAJM,  2013  
  2. 2. Caveat  The  findings  presented  in  this  presentaCon  were  part  of  an  informal  survey  I  undertook  across  staff  at  Jewish  museums  and  similar  insCtuCons  in  the  United  States  for  the  CAJM  2013  conference.  It  is  not  meant  to  be  authoritaCve,  but,  rather,  was  meant  to  inspire  conversaCon  about  the  future  of  our  field.  However,  here  are  some  general  points  about  the  survey.    • About  100  respondents  • Age  distribuCon  evenly  weighted,  with  majority  in  their  30s  and  40s  • Majority  of  respondents  work  in  curatorial  and  educaCon  
  3. 3. Working  at  a  small  insCtuCon  =  • Many  Hats  • Challenges  in  finding  resources  Is  this  descripCon  parCcularly  novel?  • Financial  Constraints  • Changing  Visitor  ExpectaCons  • PossibiliCes  of  New  Media  (and  the  means  to  develop  it)    • OpportuniCes  for  InteresCng  Work  • Diminishing  Staff  Capacity  Daily  Life  for  a  (RelaCvely  New)  Curator  
  4. 4. Challenges  to  ExhibiCon  Development  • Staffs  are  Stretched  Thin  (Mentorship)  • Visitors’  ExpectaCons  for  Media  • Visitors’  Learning  Styles  OpportuniCes  • Growth  in  Jewish  Studies  Fields  • Increasingly  Inexpensive  Means  for  Media  Development    • Wide  Array  of  Accepted  InterpretaCve  Approaches  Daily  Life  for  a  (RelaCvely  New)  Curator  • Access  to  Relevant  InformaCon  • Access  to  Relevant  InformaCon  
  5. 5. Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  Survey  of  Jewish  Museum  Colleagues  
  6. 6. Survey  ParCcipants  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • Over  50%  in  the  Field  for  7  years  or  less  • Over  70%  at  Jewish,  Holocaust  or  Synagogue  museum  • Most  ParCcipants  from  Curatorial  or  EducaCon  (56%)  
  7. 7. Staff  Changes  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • Number  of  Staff  Losses  and  Gains  About  Equal  • Some  Full-­‐Time  Replaced  by  Part-­‐Time  • 62%  report  staff  changes  have  led  to  more  responsibiliCes  • Nearly  50%  have  harder  jobs  because  of  finances  
  8. 8. Necessary  Supplies  to  Do  the  Job  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • Only  53%  feel  they  have  the  resources  they  need  • Nearly  50%  provide  their  own  supplies  on  occasion    
  9. 9. Feelings  Toward  Work  and  InsCtuCon  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • 96%  report  they’re  saCsfied  with  the  quality  of  their  work  • 72%  enjoy  their  jobs  • Nearly  40%  report  low  morale  dominant  among  colleagues  BUT  • 39%  report  increase  in  visitor  saCsfacCon  over  5  years  
  10. 10. Career  Development  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • 44%  support  skill  development  (course,  workshops,  conferences,  etc.)  • 54%  feel  their  insCtuCon  is  disinterested  in  professional  development  • Over  60%  report  receiving  no  mentorship  
  11. 11. Career  Development  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • 62%  see  no  opportuniCes  for  advancement  • While  64%  anCcipate  a  career  in  museums…  …only  35%  are  dedicated  to  Jewish  museum  work…  …and  this  figure  is  almost  enCrely  among  respondents  with  the  longest  tenure  already  
  12. 12. Findings  Are  Our  InsCtuCons  Taking  Advantage?  • Our  museums  are  grappling  with  a  host  of  challenges  • In  spite  of  opportuniCes  to  enhance  their  work,  staff  do  feel  their  insCtuCons  fail  to  invest  in  taking  advantage  of  those  opportuniCes  • PotenCal  to  spiral  deleteriously  RecommendaCons  • Strategic  culCvaCon  of  staff  skills  • Investment  in  necessary  tools  • Re-­‐envisioning  exhibiCon  development  capaciCes  
  13. 13. For  more  informaCon,  please  contact  Zachary  Paul  Levine    at  zlevine@yum.cjh.org  

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