Since you were a little child, has the idea of spending time in a museum always appealed to you? Are you someone who just loves going to a museum? If that is the case, there must have been innumerable times when you have stayed back in the museum (only to be asked to leave as the museum's working hours were over and you were the only visitor left). So now it may be wise for you to consider taking up a job in a museum. Not only will you get to do what you love, but you will also be paid handsomely for the same.
Contrary to popular beliefs, one does not need to have a background in history or anthropology in order to pursue a career in a museum. Walking past the different display halls in a museum should be enough to tell you that there is enough room in a museum to accommodate experts from different backgrounds.
Moreover, jobs in this sector may be either government jobs or private ones depending on which type of museum you are working for; but in either case, the monetary compensation is pretty satisfactory. All you have to do is to be good at what you do and work towards the betterment of the museum you are employed in.
If such a nerdy thing appeals to you and if you are serious about spending your work life unravelling and preserving tales of the bygone era, read on to know about the various career opportunities there.
The primary responsibility of an archivist is to preserve records and documents. In a museum, there will be a number of student tours and excursion visits. It is the responsibility of the archivist to coordinate all of this and ensure that the queries of students and the teachers are catered to.
The main work of an archivist is to deal with records and gather as much information out of them as is practically possible. To be able to do this, archivists in museums have to coordinate with historians, archaeologists and other experts in this field. The records that these experts deal with may be in the form of videos, maps, photographs, websites, books or even manuscripts.
It is the duty of archivists to work with researchers about items that are relevant to the collection that is present in the museum. Since this is an intellectual job, to be able to do justice to the same, one needs to have a background of history. While some archivists work on general history, there are others who specialise in the history of a particular period or geographical location.
In a museum, many of the things that are on display are very old. Mere preservation in boxes results in these type of things being subjected to wear and tear. Since the items present in a museum are things that we would like to preserve, this is certainly not what the museum authorities would encourage.
Conservators are people who work in a museum and look into the preservation and handling of resources in a museum. They use a number of chemical testing methodologies and special lights to determine the condition of artefacts and decide upon the way to preserve the same.
These types of experts have a number of microscopes, x-rays and other instruments available at their disposal in order to carry out their work. A background in archaeology, anthropology, botany or zoology is preferred for this type of a job.
These days professionals with an environmental background also work as conservators in a number of top museums.
• Museum Technicians
Things that are procured by a museum are of very high value and there is a lot of monetary investment involved in the same. Needless to say, with such huge financial investments coming into the picture, it is obvious that there are a number of factors like insurance policies, logistics and museum safety involved.
Dealing with all of that is the duty of museum technicians. All the documentation that is associated with the objects is also dealt with by such people. These experts have records of the locations and conditions of the artefacts that are on display in the museum. If these artefacts are transported to someplace for an exhibition, the same is done under the supervision of museum technicians.
This job brings along a lot of responsibilities. That is why the salary of these people is considerably higher than for other jobs in the museum. In order to become a museum technician one needs to have years of experience of working in other roles in the museum.
In case of most museums, there is a regular process of acquisition of new artefacts. At the same time, a museum often loans out a fragment of its collection to some organisation or group. In order to carry out either of these two tasks, there is a lot of administrative work involved. All of that is dealt with by the curator in a museum.
As discussed in the previous sections, archivists, museum technicians and conservators carry out their own research work with respect to the artefacts that are present in the museum. In such a situation, it is the responsibility of the curator to collaborate the work of all these people and manage the research papers published on behalf of the museum authorities.
People from a wide array of backgrounds can become curators (any big museum has curators specialising in fish, insect, fossils, mammals and other areas; hence, it does not really matter what your area of specialisation is). This is a highly coveted job in the museum as these are the people who represent the museum authorities in front of the public.
Good spoken and written communication skills and a thorough knowledge of the subject of your specialisation is an absolute necessity in order to succeed in this field.