Working with museums for beginners

For quite a while, I have desired to write something about working with museums. The first question that could come up to your mind is: how do you really work with museums?

Keep in mind that this is not an article for museum professionals and people who already work in museums. Meanwhile, don’t forget that a “museum professional” is a broad term and many of you can contribute to museums.

Why to work with museums?

The recent data from NEMO (Network of European Museum Organisations) surveys show that museums need our help. For instance, most museums are concerned about the loss of income from their business activities. In other words, the stringent lockdowns and closures made museums lose the income from tickets, shops, cafes, and events.

On the other hand, most museum professionals still believe they will get enough money from public funds. I would rather say that they hope. Above all, they feel they can’t control how the things will be going over the next months, but the hope is the last feeling one can have.

But no one can guarantee them public funds either, unless we help them proactively. That is to say, we should basically stand up for our museums.

Most importantly, remember, you don’t need to have a particular knowledge or degree for working with museums.

Read more: I draw your museum. Apply now and get an original artwork for your museum.

Your first museum

This week on Twitter I replied to a question about my earliest museum memories. My answer was not what they expected, as I had to say I didn’t go to any museums as a child. Consequently, I didn’t develop any affection for museums early on.

School visits to museums were not fun either. After that, in my teenage years I visited some famous museums outside Croatia. Subsequently, I developed my earliest interest for museum writing and promotion.

I was an absolute museum beginner. Due to the lack of specific communication-based museum studies, I decided to study History of Art.

Alberto Giacometti Kunsthaus Zurich
Alberto Giacometti: One of the most intriguing artists I studied

My Museum guidances

During these times of studying, I got a job as a museum guide. I worked at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, Croatia’s largest museum. The learning process had to be fast. Firstly I was facing groups of unmotivated teenagers from local high schools. Secondly, random groups of citizens, offered the free guidance twice per day, had some expectations. Visitors were curious to learn but challenging to me.

Meanwhile, I was feeling grateful to do this job at the age of only 20. Above all, I was able to present a museum to its visitors. But I was living in a kind of illusion. That illusion was a belief that my working with museums would be the same anywhere. No, I could not.

In other words, museums are institutions, and institutions take long to innovate. That museum in which I worked was a rare exception in which I was lucky to be.

Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, my drawing with different styles for different part of the building, to illustrate my article about the future of museums in Zagreb after earthquake (in Croatian)

Unused treasures

Imagine you have a chamber with golden trophies, jars, or maybe mugs. But you do nothing about it. You hide it so that no one steals it from you. At the same time, you are concerned about your livelihood. Every day you go to work afraid of being fired or your salaries being cut. Or if you are in Croatia or any other Mediterranean country, you are wondering how many tourists will (not) come to spend money at your travel business.

You still have a chamber full of golden trophies or jars. You occasionally go there to wipe off the dust. After that you wonder what to do. Maybe you should sell them, but they belonged to your grandfather. He earned them. So it’s your inheritance, your heritage.

Then the lockdown happened and you lost your job or your salary went down significantly. You are worried and uncertain about the income the economy around you will earn. Meanwhile you are hopeful about the government help.

Sounds similar to the previous museum story? Most museums operate like an individual who doesn’t know what to do with the valuable private inheritance.

Working with museums
Croatian Museum of Schools – a very cool museum with treasures from local history of education and schooling. Their stuff has done a great job being appealing to contemporary schoolchildren. They needed help for that.

Would you adopt a museum?

At this moment, we need collaboration. I would like to invite you, dear reader, to tell me which museum would you choose to adopt. While “adopting a museum” you will say everything you love about that museum. As a result, your museum will receive your attention and get their first community story. Someone else will subsequently follow and give the second community story to that same museum.

So, you are able to stand for museums even if you don’t have any museum experience. For example, you may want to share what you love in your favourite museum. Leave me a comment in the comment section, and help me creating the next step in working with museums for beginners.

Above all, your way to adopt a museum will be very simple. As simple as my Tweet bellow:

Tell me what is your favourite museum, and why is it. Next week, my new article will be out with the next steps in working with museums.

Meanwhile, I invite you to make your museum a candidate for my museum drawings.

1 Comment

  • Kosljun Monastery, Krk island, Croatia.

    I don’t know where to start from, the 15th century monastery, the beautiful nature or the numerous collections, depicting the regions history and culture.

    But i definitely know where to end: the museum’s banknote collection, consisting of banknotes from the most close until the most remote and isolated countries, brought to the monastery by sailors from the region

    Check this here: πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡

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