Where are Museum Studies Graduate Programs Going Wrong?

Photo from success.co.il

Photo from success.co.il

Recently, I’ve come across several interesting blog posts about museology/museum studies graduate programs and everything that is going wrong or working against these graduates: they aren’t getting hired, the field is changing, and museum professionals feel like they are working for too little money. You might be thinking that these are problems that many graduates in the country are facing right now, regardless of industry. That’s what I’m thinking, too. But here’s what I find interesting: for one reason or another, significant blame is being placed on the museum studies programs themselves.

And maybe it is a problem with the current programs. After all, this post about the future of museums, by (none other than) the Center for the Future of Museums, even goes so far as to suggest an interesting and alarming solution for current problems facing the museum industry right now: Stop hiring museum studies graduates.

What’s the basis of this disconnect between museum studies programs and museums? How can these graduate programs be changed to improve the attitudes of graduates and help set more realistic expectations? Admittedly, reading up on the field does leave a museum professional (albeit not enrolled in a Museum Studies graduate program) agreeing that some things may need to be changed.

I’ve fallen madly in love with the thought-provoking ideas brought up in this post by New Curator wherein Pete (the author) serves as a strong advocate fighting for the success of recent museum studies graduates. The post contains a lot of great ideas, and triggered dialogue which has spun off into even more great ideas about ways to improve programs. I think the post is most interesting, though, because it offers a peek into the mindset of these none-too-pleased (and apparently none-too-employed) museum studies graduates.

I want join this discussion by throwing a few more ideas into the mix:

  • Perhaps a degree in Museum Studies is something in between a professional and an academic degree, and museum professionals have trouble measuring it against other areas of study

There seems to be some confusion about a master’s degree in museum studies being considered an academic degree or a professional degree– that is, does the degree provide knowledge on academic topics, or is it a degree of the professional development sort? New Curator makes it clear that a master’s degree in museum studies was—and perhaps still is– considered a professional degree by those who chose/choose to enroll in these programs.. and  it appears that in museum environments, professional and academic degree recipients are competing for the same jobs. Pete writes, “I’ve read a few things about the skepticism around academia as work training. My Christ, who let in all these Art History and Archaeology PHDs? They’re practically *running* the place and now there’s the hint that a Museum Studies qualification is unnecessary?” I cannot tell if this means that PhDs are running the museum studies programs or running the museums… but the statement, either way, indicates that PhDs are doing something that is valued by the museums.

Maybe the degree is something strangely in between an academic PhD in Art History and a professional M.B.A/ M.P.A.  Perhaps Pete is onto something when he writes, “The one thing these people [students in museum studies] are being trained in are now possibly not trained? Or not trained enough, as I notice in another comment that museums are made up of too many specialisms.” This could be the problem, in a sense. Museum studies programs may be both too specialized and not specialized enough. These graduates are competing for museum jobs with other program graduates whose degrees are undoubtedly academic/specialized (anthropology, art history, paleontology) and undoubtedly professional (business management, public policy). While academic degrees prepare candidates for curating positions, professional degrees prepare candidates for museum management. Then the question becomes does museology study the management or the content of museums? The degree’s position in the middle of these worlds can be seen as either awkward or as advantageous. Museum studies programs should play this as an advantage. It won’t be easy (there seem to be far more graduates with degrees on ends of the spectrum), but it may be worth it… and it may create a positive change for program graduates.

  • Unemployment is not unique to museum studies graduates right now, and placing graduates in full-time jobs is a difficulty that graduate programs of all varieties are facing

Museum studies graduates seem to be frustrated about their inability to get museum jobs, despite the fact that their education has groomed them to take on valuable roles within these environments. Pete writes, “The bitter taste in the museum student’s mouth was that what they thought was professional development is now considered almost useless to their future compared to the gamble of the job market or the gamble of obtaining a useful contact.” He goes onto say, “Of course, it’s criminal to take their money, hand them a piece of paper and wish them luck with a handshake. Too many graduates from the full taxonomy of museum studies courses are having to compete in the job market lottery. And it is a lottery. The most basic entry-level positions into the museum world are now getting TONS of applicants. This is a sad state of affairs.”

But this is happening everywhere. Some nonprofit organizations have seen a 1600% jump in applicants in this year alone because of the economy.  Financial firms have even spotted increased occurrences of applicants spouting lies on their resume in order to stand out from the still-growing crowd. It’s rough out there right now; it’s rough for all of us.

Moreover, shouldn’t a well qualified and passionate museum studies grad/museum job candidate be excited that more people are looking to spread the missions of museums? Don’t we evolve by integrating new people and new ideas? Though I’m specializing in nonprofit management, I’m always thrilled to learn of corporate leaders making the switch to the nonprofit world!  As museums are more and more becoming places for community engagement, doesn’t the argument that museums should only be hiring those with formal training in museum studies seem unnecessarily polarizing between the academic world and the public sphere? Museums need to be able to relate to the community; they need to employ diversity. The Center for the Future of Museums has a good bit about it in the previously mentioned article.

“You want to have an excellent Museum Studies program? Guarantee jobs.” Yes. If every graduate is guaranteed a job, then that program is producing exceptionally creative industry leaders, and everyone might consider enrolling in this miracle program, perhaps even making all other graduate and professional degrees obsolete. I agree with The Center for the Future of Museums in their most recent post: this kind of thinking is less about museum studies programs specifically, and more about a certain conception of or assumption about the U.S. Education system.

Many people might let out a laugh if someone claimed that it was the duty of the institution to make all business degree recipients into CEOs. While that may be the ultimate goal of someone getting their M.B.A. is it the responsibility of the institution to take them all the way there? No. The candidate must display ambition, creative thinking, and nurture experience. Getting a food handler’s permit gives you the opportunity to handle food– not the right to handle it. Degrees do not entitle you to anything. You have to do some work to get there. I like this post on the topic. And a typical museum studies graduate doesn’t seem so angry.

I am delighted by the creative ideas that have come from this discussion. New Curator has great ideas for recruitment, such as turning museum studies programs into headhunters and establishing a “museum milkround.” Some are even talking about museum workers unionizing.

  • Maybe the answer involves evolving to meet the changing needs of the community.

This argument traces to the basis for the Center for the Future of Museum’s potential solution to stop hiring museum studies grads. The article begins by discussing the need for diversity within museum studies programs. The post goes on to say, “We are entering an age in which people don’t just want to be lectured to by experts, they want to contribute and curate their own content. In this environment, curators may evolve from being lecturers and authors to being moderators of discussions and editors of content. This requires a different set of soft skills, and calls for a different set of training. Is this something that can be provided at the graduate level in an academic environment, or is it best learned (and consciously taught) on the job?

These are great thoughts. From focusing on soft skills, incorporating social media in the professional development of museum studies students, and creating/ maintaining strong partnerships with institutions, these programs should be preparing for the future and living in the now.

  • Consider wages in regard to the nonprofit environment in which you are working.

I’m not sure how closely museum studies graduates study other kinds of nonprofit and community organizations/ institutions, but the notion that museum studies grads are surprised to learn that they might not be paid much shocked me. I don’t buy it. And if it is true that there’s significant surprise here, I think a simple and positive change-of-mentality might be a solution: Don’t work in a museum for the money. Work in a museum for the mission.

Many museums are public or independent nonprofit organizations, and nonprofit organizations are actively trying to deal with the issue of low wages– especially in regard to some of the newest grads– members of Generation Y, a generation that values work/life balance and often values time and mission over money.

On the issue of wages, New Curator writes that museum studies grads’ work is “something just above slavery. Work hard for an indeterminate amount of time and maybe the industry will maybe reward you. The current model for improving museums through new blood is the same as parents controlling children with Santa.” But wasn’t all of the old blood new blood at one point? And if you’re doing something you love, isn’t it a little bit more worth it?

I’m glad to see the ongoing dialogue about the profession, the industry, and the programs. I’m thrilled to have this peek into the concerns of recent grads and potential museum studies students. I have no doubt that these conversations will lead to an improvement. After all, according to Thomas Edison:

Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress.”

Posted on by colleendilen in Arts, Education, Graduate school, Lessons Learned, Museums 26 Comments

About the author

colleendilen

MPA. Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS Research & Development. Nonprofit marketer, Generation Y museum, zoo & aquarium writer/speaker, web engagement geek, data nerd, marathoner, nomad, herbivore

26 Responses to Where are Museum Studies Graduate Programs Going Wrong?

  1. James G. Leventhal

    this is a round and thoughtful post and a most welcome addition to this on-line conversation.

    thanks for linking to westmuse!

    http://westmuse.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/more-thoughtful-learning-how-professional-development-through-social-media-can-strengthen-cultural-institutions/

     
  2. Pete Newcurator

    I meant “running the place” as the number of PHDs in mid-to-top level positions in the entire museum industry. It was meant to be an argument against the whole “Museum Studies courses are not nessecary” line of thinking I was noticing.

     
    • Evan S

      Newcurator, you believe Museum Studies courses are beneficial? I am trying to decide if I should go into Museum Studies grad course or something else. This is a very disheartening article. I understand how challenging it is to get a museum job, and adding the difficulty of “needing” a PhD to work in a museum is a heart ache.

       
  3. Pingback: Notes on Museum Studies Discussion | newcurator

  4. Kirsten

    Really good post, came here via New Curator.
    I think recent outrage over low wages is more over *falling* wages than it is over pervasive low salaries in the nonprofit world. Certainly most museum studies students go into it knowing they will never be rich and that they’re going to be paying off debts until they die, so prescribing an attitude adjustment doesn’t really address the problem. We know what we signed up for, and this isn’t it. Not only are most conversations about museum studies programs and the glut of graduates primarily about how useless our degrees are and how many problems it would solve to just stop hiring us (or at least the conversations tend to degenerate into this), we’re also dealing with a job market that is trying to see what it can get away with. If there’s such a glut of over-qualified professionals looking for work, why not low-ball them in the salary department? You’ll still get a great employee, but they’ll cost you less! I say all of this as a gainfully employed person making a living wage, who has seen at least two $20K/year entry level positions posted in the past week.

    I don’t think recent museum studies grads are acting entitled when they say this is unacceptable. I think anyone willing to devalue their own labor (and, by extension, the labor of their peers) ought to be ashamed of themselves if they’re willing to work for $20K, a salary which might (might) allow you to pay the bills but which won’t help you pay down your debts. I realize that is just begging for a rejoinder comment along the lines of “I took a $20K/year job because [insert extremely unfortunate life circumstance here] and I had no real choice, and you are a heartless, bloodless, soulless witch,” but you better believe that if that becomes an acceptable entry level salary it will be because people were willing to work for that little. And employers certainly aren’t going to protest.

    My own graduate program was a bit confused about whether it was academic or practical, and seemed to fall more on the side of academic, which is interesting but, you know, less practical :P However it’s still an MA (or an MSc, or an MFA, or MEd depending on your school) and the compensation shouldn’t equal that offered to a burger flipper. “Jobs for all” is a wonderful thing to say, if a pipe dream, but I don’t see why saying “What jobs there are should be properly compensated” shouldn’t be a reality.

     
  5. Kirsten

    That was poorly expressed in parts and a bit ranty, so I apologize! I think museums will face a brain-drain in the long-term if the salary issue isn’t addressed, and I think the time to do it is now, before entry-level salaries slip below a living wage across the board.

     
    • Lidja

      Kirsten – I am particularly interested in your “brain drain” comment. I am at the other end of the career spectrum (I’ve been a museum professional for a cpl decades), and I’m seeing many talented and skilled colleagues finding ways to reshape their involvement in the sector (or outside of the sector) to escape low wages and difficult workplaces.

      It may be a case of recent graduates just being a little too short-sighted. Perhaps what we’re seeing is that the time spent working in an established CNPO (cultural non-profit org) and earning little money is just another stepping-stone along the path to the ultimate career, which is more independent and personally rewarding because it is self-defined…? Not the news you wanted to hear, but comes from an informed perspective…

      In other words, I’m not so sure that “kicking against the pricks” is a good labor strategy. ,-)

       
  6. Marjorie Schwarzer

    This is an excellent post, a well rounded perspective that seeks to balance out some of the misnomers out there. The next thing you know they’ll say that museum studies programs are putting together “death panels” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    I think we are all working toward the same goal: propelling museums as public institutions that can inspire imagination, thoughtfulness and insight. How each of us figures out where we fit within that larger goal is personal and involves much work & soul-searching.

    The salary issue is not unique to our field. There are definitely gender issues going on here, but likely other issues related to how we value labor in our society.

    Thank you for your contributions to my thinking and the broader discussion.

     
  7. colleendilen

    Thanks for the warm welcome to the conversation, James!

    Pete, I thought that was what you meant but I wasn’t sure so I wanted to make room for my possible misinterpretation. I’m glad to hear that you meant that there are many PhDs running the museum field. That is an interesting thing to think about when considering the impact of a degree in Museum Studies and the competition those graduates are facing for jobs. Thanks for writing such a thought provoking post and inspiring my thoughts.

    Kristen, thank you for your comments! I’ve noticed that of all the issues that are being brought up in recent museum studies posts, the concept of low payment is always at the top of the list and seems to be the biggest area of concern. It’s interesting to learn that your program felt confused as to if it was a professional or academic program. I wonder if the confusion confuses museum hiring managers as well and creates an issue in where to place museum studies grads.

    I completely agree with your comment, Marjorie. I especially like the goal you share: “propelling museums as public institutions that can inspire imagination, thoughtfulness and insight.” Well said!

     
  8. zoogeek

    Hi Colleen,

    I know this is a very late reply, but thanks so much for the post. As a current museum studies graduate student, who’s in the middle of a very difficult job application process, I really appreciated everything you said.

    I think what scares me most about the inevitable job search after graduation is that so much of the museum world seems to be filled with “latecomers” to the field. For example, the text for my education course was written by five former teachers who had become disgruntled with formal education and moved to the museum world to escape it. None of them have professional degrees in museum studies, though I certainly don’t mean to disrespect their accomplishments (over 20+ year careers). I’m sure they’re brilliant, passionate people.

    The problem is going to be that very few museums will hire me into their education department when they can have a former teacher. No collections department will take me over the PhD in Anthropology. No art museum would touch me, period (I’m science trained for undergraduate). And this is in spite of, if not because of my degree. The fact that I’ve had coursework in fundraising, education, collections, management, and exhibit design may only serve to hurt me, because I’m not “specialized” enough. So even though I’ve proven that I’m engaged with the museum world by pursuing the degree, and I’m experienced with a wide variety of museum concerns, both academically and practically, I’m not a desirable candidate for a job. Unless, of course, I spend two years slaving through unpaid internships and volunteer positions, which is what I’m doing now at 18+ hours a week, completely by my own choice and force of will.

    My ultimate goal is in museum management and directorship, but I’m terrified of how I’ll stand up to the trend of hiring former CEOs to those positions; though, I agree that it’s actually done some fun things to the museum world! The best I can hope is that I’ll be a lot cheaper to keep than they would be. *laughs*

    Again, thanks for the post.

    -zoogeek

     
  9. James G. Leventhal

    wow. what an amazing, eloquent and honest comment…your candor and conviction will serve you well in any field.

    pleased to be ‘on this chain.’ it’s an important discussion, and for everyone of us, at every stage in our careers. thanks again for opening this up.
    james

     
  10. colleendilen

    @zoogeek Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m so glad that you’ve contributed to this post by talking about the situation you are facing!

    Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! I hope you’ll find that the world opens up to you with your new degree. I also hope you find that (if not the content of your studies,) the skills you’ve perfected in graduate school (writing, critical and creative thinking capabilities) are valued by your potential employers.

    I’m interested to hear about how the intellectual community of your program has contributed to your professional development. You’ll all be graduating with the same degree in the same economic situation. Do your friends have the same outlook on the program?

    As a side (and to contribute my two-cents), I worked in a science center for about two years before heading off to graduate school myself. The culture was one that really appreciated a background in science and a passion for curiosity. I believe your science background will be refreshing and has the potential to serve you very well!

    @James G. Leventhal- Thanks for your kind comment. I hope that the dialogue continues both here and on the blogs of several other museos!

     
  11. Per Kurowski

    What an interesting post. Except as a visitor, I have absolutely nothing to do with museums, except again being the father of Alexandra who always speaks about museums both as an art lover and as the object of her marketing-innovations wandering thoughts.

    And so when as an outsider I read this post I ask myself: “Museum studies… understood in terms of a hospital, do they lead you to be a doctor, a hospital administrator, an insurance agent, a marketing expert, a collector of public funds, a hospital designer, etc?”

    Clearly there must be so many aspects to running a museum and so just like in a corporation if it does not prioritize correctly which is the most important task at any specific moment or forget to adequately cover any of the basic functions at all times, they will not do well. But also, just like in a corporation that does not mean that all the functions have to be performed by employees, since outsourcing could often be a much better alternative.

    Also if you think of museum studies in term of the museums that exist, and not in terms of those that will exist, then not even the most powerful museum workers´ union will give you any job protection. I just wonder how many museum boards have asked, where do we believe the good museums will be in 2030 and how do we get there? Those who don´t do that, in a timely fashion, will most probably end up as catalogued items in the museum of museums.

     
  12. Pingback: Decline of the MBA, Increase in Social Good? « Colleen Dilenschneider- Know Your Own Bone

  13. Heather

    I am a Museum Studies program graduate, and I just have one short comment. My degree certainly is NOT worth the 30K+ of debt that it put me in, when my full time Museum salary qualifies me for food stamps. My graduate adviser certainly didn’t prepare me for that. Goodbye Museum World! It was short and certainly not sweet. What a waste of a degree!

     
  14. colleendilen

    Oh no– I’m sorry to hear that, Heather! Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s great to get comments from Museum Studies grads who can share their thoughts and expertise (I don’t have a grad degree in museum studies). I hope your experience hasn’t left you too jaded regarding museums. Thanks again for commenting and sharing your info!

     
  15. Museum Studies Student

    I realize that this post is nearly a year old, but I recently stumbled upon it and felt compelled to comment. This debate of museum studies versus discipline-specific degrees is one that has certainly crept up in classes that I have had as a Museum Studies student. In my experience, the Master of Arts in Museum Studies is most definitely both a professional AND academic degree. I have conducted extensive academic research in my courses, presented at a symposium, and am well versed in current, cutting edge museum theory. I have also written grants, completed condition reports, used PastPerfect and EMu as collection management tools in actual museums, designed an exhibition that I am about to install, performed a formative program evaluation as a museum consultant, and attended numerous professional development workshops — including a costume restoration course at the Campbell Center in Mt. Caroll, IL. All of these were requirements for my classes, and I am not even halfway through my program. My classes occur in a museum, and my professors are all museum professionals in the areas that they teach: my exhibition professor is a senior curator, my museum education professor is head of a museum education department, etc. Students from my degree program are continually obtaining jobs. Two students were recently hired at the museum that houses our classes, and many other students have obtained jobs elsewhere upon graduation. Do I believe that our program was an asset to them in their job hunt? Absolutely!

    I personally chose pursuing my MA in Museum Studies over getting an actual museum job. The museum at which I did my undergraduate internship (my BA is in History) was looking for a new director at the time, and had shown interest in me. Granted, it is a small historic house with only two paid staff persons, but it was a very appealing prospect. Why did I decide to get my Master’s degree instead of applying for a job? First of all, I was advised by several museum professionals, whom I trust greatly, to do so. Secondly, I felt completely unprepared to run a museum! The interdisciplinary and multi-faceted aspect of Museum Studies fit the bill for me. I want to start out working in, if not directing, small historic house museums. Because small museums are not heavily staffed, I will need to know how to do fundraising, exhibition design, collections management, educational programming, volunteer management, and anything else that needs doing (yes, even cleaning). My degree has already given me the confidence to enter into such a leadership position and succeed.

    I have seen some people complaining about the cost of a Museum Studies degree in relation to the amount that they are paid. I must admit, that I am not very concerned about this (luckily). Although I paid for my first semester of school, I have received a graduate assistantship for the upcoming year. In addition to waiving my tuition, the university is giving me a pay check to work in the education department of a mid-sized museum. My husband makes more than enough money to support our family, and his job is flexible enough that we can most likely move if I receive a job offer after graduation. I’m not looking for great pay and benefits right away, but I still want to be a professional and have the necessary skills to take care of my museum, further its research and contribution to society, and gain continuing funding. I am not going into the museum field because I want to make a lot of money but because it is my passion.

    I support Museum Studies!

     
    • amanda

      I really appreciated your response to this. I am currently in a BA program for History looking at going into Museum Studies and your response was very helpful. I would like to ask where you are currently getting your MA in Museum Studies?

       
      • Museum Studies Student

        I’m attending Western Illinois University in the Quad Cities. This is the link to the program website: http://www.wiu.edu/museumstudies/

        I would definitely recommend the program. It is housed in an art museum, but it is very interdisciplinary and offers a lot of hands-on experience that is backed by a well-rounded theoretical foundation.

  16. Anne

    Also late to this fascinating discussion. Perhaps it is a function of generations or expectations or the continually increasing cost of higher education, but I think that some graduates may have very unreal expectations of wages in this field. I fell in love with museums in 1990, when I interned at a very small historical society and decided that was a good use for my undergraduate major in history. As a Gen Xer who also graduated into a recession (not nearly as bad), I went right off to graduate school with no real idea of what I was doing or why, but wanting to continue studying history and afraid of the job market. I didn’t get into or get funding for the museum studies programs I pursued, but with a full ride for a history degree I studied that. No one was interested in me for a museum job either, so I started volunteering at a mid-sized history/science museum in my city and working multiple part-time jobs, living with my parents to make ends meet. Dreaming of curatorial work, I was hired part-time as floor staff in a exhibit on Mars. After 3 years of working multiple part-time jobs in multiple museums, I was hired full time in 1998 for $17,500 plus benefits. After a few years in programming, I left for my present position as educator at a small historical society. I thought the increase of over $10,000 to be great at the time, despite high transportation costs. Last year my director told me, that adjusted for inflation, my salary had not increased in ten years. At 40, with an advanced degree and almost 15 years experience, I do not make what a starting teacher with a bachelor’s degree makes in my district. I have full medical, but no disability and no other insurance. My only retirement is what I can save myself. I constantly wonder if I shouldn’t leave the field, but then I wonder what I would do that would be so interesting and in so many ways so fulfilling? At the same time, my husband, who works for a town government, has similar experience, fewer degrees and a slightly better salary, so it is not just museums that pay so poorly. In this economy, I know many people my age and older who feel lucky to have a job, any job, much less one they enjoy. I believe this issue of wages is a continual problem, except at the highest levels at the large and mid-sized institutions and it is an on-going concern for anyone who is not supported by other funds. This alone is a barrier to greater diversity in the field, since many of the members of lower income groups and ethnic minorities are looking for paths OUT of dead-end economic situations.

     
  17. John

    I am doing museum studies major at undergraduate level, under a bachelor of arts. Do you have any advice for employment opportunities. I still wonder if this is the right course for me – I love ancient history and collecting objects and could not see myself doing any other degree (except history). I thought this would provide better opportunities than a history major, and I can still take plenty of history subjects so I can minor in that as well. Would a BA with major in museum studies and minor in history or anthropology be a good route to take? What jobs are there outside of museums? I do not want to go on for a masters or PhD. I still have another 3 years to go in this course.

     
    • colleendilen

      Hi John, I’m a sample-size of one here (and I hope others will weigh-in), but since you’re an undergraduate, I recommend doing what you love. Here’s why: regardless of which major you choose, the skills that you will gain in areas of communication (writing, speaking and social interaction), analytical thinking, and creative problem solving- which are attendant to all of the majors that you mention- will serve you tremendously down the road. I majored in English and Visual Arts as an undergraduate and my classmates (even the Visual Art majors) went on to take a variety of jobs across the board. Check out this blog post I wrote: 5 Reasons to be Proud that you Majored in English: http://colleendilen.com/2009/08/21/5-reasons-to-be-proud-that-you-majored-in-english/ Many of these points relate to your majors as well. Also, as a full-time professional in my late twenties who is blessed to meet many professionals in the field, virtually nobody ever asks me what I majored in as an undergraduate.

      I do think, however, that if you were contemplating graduate education or a step that is more potentially professionally limiting than the differentiations between the subjects you mention are more important.

      I hope that helps. Again, I am a sample-size of one.

       
  18. Pampers boy

    Colleen, I know I’m late to the discussion, but I’m really interested in pursuing a museum career. I have a master’s in Humanities but no actual coursework in museum studies. I’ve taught for a couple of years, but I’d like to move on and actually work in the antiquities areas of a large museum. Would my degree be useless for that do you imagine?

     
    • colleendilen

      Thanks for engaging in conversation here! I don’t think that your degree would be useless for that kind of work at all. I do think that your ability to land a job on that path may may be more dependent upon what differentiates you (experience, skill set, etc). Especially with some of the conversation surrounding the benefits of a museum studies degree, it seems that having a masters in humanities may make you well-rounded candidate. Best of luck to you in your quest to be a full-time museo!

       
  19. DT

    I’m glad I found this great discussion. It makes me excited and nervous all at once. My undergrad is in Art History and I’m starting JHU’s online M.A. in Museum Studies in January. My only experience in museums so far is a 4 month internship at a contemporary art museum in the midwest. Now I’m living in Europe and learning a new language. For that reason I have not been able to pursue jobs in my chosen field. My current city has hundreds of museums and many in art but I’m extremely worried as to how I will get my foot in the door in a country that doesn’t seem to be too fond of hiring foreigners. I can only hope that my pervasiveness, hard work and degrees will be enough to begin with.

     
  20. DT

    Also, just to add, a degree offered here is a masters degree in ECM (exhibition, curation and management). My German is not yet good enough and I would rather have an American degree in case I ever go back to the States. Let’s hope they’ll take my JHU degree seriously when I’m done. :)

     

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