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Friday, February 22, 2013

Training Museum Professionals

So how do museum staff learn to be museum staff? There are many different pathways, as those of us at the Rosenbach can attest, but it typically involves a combination of study and practical experience. Here at the Rosenbach we have an active internship program to help train the next generation of museum and library professionals and for this week's blog post we asked current collections intern Anne Baker to talk a little about her graduate school work in museum studies. Her post gives a glimpse into the many different kinds of skills that are bound up in a museum career.
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When most people think of museums, they tend to recall the objects that they hold. So much more goes into sustaining a museum than what can be seen on the outside. Behind the walls that hold the paintings, beyond the cases used to display artifacts, there is a whole stealth network of volunteers and staff that put time and energy into creating the best museum experience possible. 

I attend the University of the Arts and am enrolled in a Masters Program in Museum Communications. I know, what does this mean? This communications program involves everything from PR and marketing to development and collections management. I have learned many skills, most of them of through group projects based on real world experiences.

I write a lot of papers, mostly on museums and case studies, covering everything from dissecting the mission statement, the history, and programming, to their collection and exhibits. I also study audience development, where we take surveys at museums, input the data, and write a report based on our findings. Collections is my favorite class. In this class we discuss collection policies and how to catalog objects using computer software. We also work on a collections project for an institution. My group's project consisted of measuring objects and antique furniture to find out the square footage that the objects took up and come up with an alternative storage plan. 

I am currently taking a class in PR and Marketing where we take a museum, find their marketing weakness, and create a new strategy. This includes everything from what the museum brand is, to designing a new logo, creating new materials and ads, and then marketing the new brand to the community.  In a previous class my classmates and I learned basic graphic design to help us design our marketing materials.

Photo Taken by Bre Wucinich of a scavenger hunt in downtown Philadelphia for a group project

I take a lot of field trips, which is so much fun.  As a class we have gone to New York City and are planning to go to Gettysburg in a few weeks. I have also gone to the Wagner Free Institute of Science, the Rodin Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Penn Museum (just to name a few) for class projects and assignments.

Through experiences at the Rosenbach I have learned, and am continuing to learn, more about collections; how they are organized, cataloged, and cared for.  I have also been taught what it takes to put together an interesting exhibit: the prep work; design; content; objects; and research.  (I also get to see amazing objects, letters, manuscripts, and works of art!)

I still have one more year to go and many more classes to take, but everything that I learn and will continue to learn helps to shape the Museum field for the future. 

What people make up the museum?  The Board, Director, Administrators, Marketing Designer, Exhibits Designer, Curator, Collections Manager, Registrar, Visitor Services (The Front Desk), the Membership Office, Marking and Public Relations Coordinator, Director of Communications, Development Director, Librarian, Custodian, Educational Programmer, Volunteers, Docents, and many more.  So next time you are in a museum look beyond the walls and the art and remember our job is to serve you.

Anne Baker is a Museum Student at the University of the Arts. She is from Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus. She enjoys Art History (Italian art) and painting and is currently interning at the Rosenbach in the Collections Department, which she describes as "a blast, I have learned so much!"

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