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Museum and galleries focus on the preservation and exhibition of creative work or cultural items. Beyond traditional curator roles, museums and galleries often need professionals to design exhibitions, manage institution budgets, build up a network of contacts and clients, and work in documenting, digitizing and managing collections. While the people, in the conservation and restoration side of museum and gallery careers, work behind the scenes, some roles, such as education officers and communication managers, interact with the visitors and act as guides for members of the public. Many of these roles require creativity, enthusiasm, and the ability to work with others on a variety of projects, as well as the content knowledge to speak intelligently about the work on display.
Below is a sampling of roles you might find:
- Exhibit Designers
- Gallery Directors
- Grant Coordinators and Writers
- Historic Preservationists
- Museum Directors and Curators
- Museum Technicians
- Tour Guides
Below are some additional resources to find opportunities:
- Budget Management
- Digital Media
- Fund Raising
- Knowledge of a Relevant Subject Area
The recruitment timeline in this industry is based on position vacancy. The following example is a museum interested in hiring UVA students.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has offered students the opportunity to intern with the staff since 1940. Its internships acquaint students with the challenges and rewards of planning and implementing a variety of projects, programs, and services and introduce them to specific areas of the museum profession. Its fall semester internship program from September to December has an application deadline on July 1st. The spring internship, which starts in February and ends in March, has to be applied before November 15th. February 15th is the deadline for its summer semester internship, which starts in late May or early June and wraps in August.
Every summer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of a metropolitan museum through its Museum Studies Internship Program. The nine-week, Monday-to-Friday volunteer program promotes an awareness of the broad range of museum careers through experiences not available in most academic settings. The application usually opens during fall. The deadline for the summer internship program is in late January every year.
Resumes and Cover Letters
Your professional resume should address skills needed in your desired field and special accomplishments or results-oriented tasks you performed in previous work. Depending on the specific job function you hope to fulfil, those skills might include:
- Critical Thinking
- Broad Content Knowledge
- Ability to Improve with Feedback
- Savvy with Technology
When it comes to choosing a format, some arts or media organizations may be more tolerant of design-heavy resumes that use color, graphics, or otherwise veer from the traditional one-page resume. Keep in mind that, regardless of the field, hiring managers are more interested in quality content (what have you done?) than visual appeal. In fact, some employers view non-traditional resumes as a tool for masking a lack of experience. Don't let this be you! Use work samples and your online portfolio to show your design skills so you can keep your resume content-focused.
The interviewing process varies with positions in this industry.
The following are some sample interview questions.
- How much experience have you had in organizing a show and setting up your work?
- What are your approaches to educating the public about art?
- What types of exhibitions have you actively participated in?
- Describe your organizational and research skills.
- What role does the museum play within society, in your opinion?