Rethinking Museum Jobs at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, CA

Through my work with the Incluseum, I’ve become convinced that all aspects of the museum-as-we-know-it will have to be transformed in deep ways if the value of inclusion is to become a central and foundational commitment. This is why I get excited when I come across what I call “museum ways of being” that deviate from the norm. For example, I believe the Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Santa Cruz, CA is breaking ground in rethinking museum jobs, and thus what a museum can be.

The MAH is currently looking to hire four new staff members who’s job descriptions are unlike what I am accustomed to reading; both the language used to describe the positions and the qualifications required present us with a more inclusive vision of what a museum can be. Here are highlights from the job descriptions that struck me:

  • The Curator of Exhibitions is described as one with superb communication skills who’ll be able to co-develop and “animate” exhibitions in a way that “prioritizes community/visitor engagement.” This person is also expected to have experience working collaboratively with community organizations and community members (in addition to artists) and have connections to “art and art movements relevant to Californians of diverse ethnicity, race, age, and cultural affinity.” The traditional collection development, publication, and research skills are not emphasized. (Application deadline: May 16, 2014)
  • The Community Programs Coordinator is described as a bilingual (Spanish) individual able to work with “people of all stripes”. The job description is reminiscent of a community organizer; in fact, experience working in community-based organizations along with possessing a high level of cultural competency and an ability to “empower people in pursuing their own goals” are required. (Application deadline: May 16, 2014)
  • The Director of Development and Communications is described as one who preferably has fundraising experience in social justice or grassroots organizing and will be able to “involve, cultivate, and honor people who contribute in diverse ways” (in addition to being able to secure major gifts and grants). (Application deadline: May 11, 2014)
  • The School Programs Coordinator is required to be bilingual in Spanish and will help create and deliver school programs. (Application deadline: May 26, 2014)

Regardless of wether or not you are currently looking for a job, I highly recommend you take the time to read these four job description…my highlights don’t do justice to the whole. The MAH is taking inclusion to a new level…I hope other museums will follow suit.

Rose Paquet Kinsley is a co-founder of the Incluseum and you can read more about her here.

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these. I think the biggest thing that makes our job descriptions inclusive is what ISN’T in them: specific designation of advanced degrees you have to have.

    We are really, really careful to only ask for specific degrees (or advanced degrees at all) if they are truly necessary for the job at hand. I think “graduate degree required” is often a lazy way to exclude a whole lot of great applicants.

  2. Thanks for pointing me to these great job descriptions. They are certainly inclusive, but what’s even better in my opinion is how they focus on future potential rather than past achievements. After reading them, it seems to me Nina and her team are looking to give people an opportunity (in addition to a job). Such trust in people rather than degrees – without which I would have been nowhere – will be well rewarded, I’m sure. These job descriptions should be an example for museums and cultural organisations all over the world.

  3. […] discussed how words like “diversity” hold implicit meanings and I wrote about how the MAH’s reframing museums jobs through the wording of their job descriptions. This week, Margaret Middleton, Exhibit Designer at […]

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