What is a MUSEUM?

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Various Definitions of what a MUSEUM is

According to The American Alliance of Museums, museums make “unique contribution to the public by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the things of this world.


The International Council on Museums ICOM defines a museum as “a non-profit- making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment.”


The Museum and Library Services Act describes a museum as “a public or private nonprofit agency or institution organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes, which, utilizing a professional staff, owns or utilizes tangible objects, cares for them, and exhibits them to the public on a regular basis.”


The Museums Association (MA) in the UK, states, “Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.



• in charge of the whole museum and its workings
• represents the museum in contacts with the public
• works with the entire staff to make sure museum runs smoothly
• assists wherever needed in any department
• Skills: enjoy working with people, flexible and organized worker; comfortable public speaker, enjoy doing a
variety of different things, good problem-solver
• You could be a Director if you are very good at persuading all different kinds of people to work together.

• expert in charge of one type of the collection (drawings, paintings, Egyptian objects, etc.)
• oversees the care, display and information about the objects in their areas
• assists the Registrars and Graphic Designers in assembling the museum catalog
• Skills: good writer, enjoys reading and researching
• You could be a Curator if you love reading and learning new information.

• keeps track of all museum objects
• maintains records of ownership and borrowing
• carefully watches the safety and condition of objects on display
• works with the Curators and the Graphic Designers in assembling the museum catalog
• Skills: organizational skills, good record keeper, careful with details
• You could be a Registrar if you are good at keeping things in your desk and your room very neat and organized.

• plans tours and other programs for museum visitors of all ages
• works with the Curators to develop exhibits
• oversees the docents
• Skills: good writer, creative, good with people
• You could be a Museum Educator if you love sharing new ideas and information with lots of different types of

• welcomes visitors to the museum
• guides and teaches visitors on tours of the museum
• answers questions about the objects in the museum
• Skills: good public speaker, enjoy research, good with people
• You could be a Docent if you like meeting new people and telling stories.

• designs posters and brochures about the museum, both by hand and on the computer
• assists the Public Relations Officers in creating advertisements for the museum
• helps with the creation of the museum catalog
• Skills: enjoys drawing, creative with color and shape, good writer and designer
• You could be a Graphic Designer if you enjoy drawing and working with color and shapes.

• plans layout and display of objects in the space provided for the museum
• decides on wall colors and arrangements of objects
• helps Preparators to hang and install artwork properly
• Skills: creative with colors and space, good at math
• You could be an Exhibit Designer if you enjoy math and creative problem-solving with shapes and space.

• assist the Exhibit Designers in the installation of the museum’s objects
• carefully handles objects
• helps to construct and arrange displays
• Skills: good with math, enjoy building things, good sense of space, very careful with details
• You could be a Preparator if you enjoy math and are good at working with your hands.

• writes and distributes press releases and announcements to inform the school and the community about events
and activities at the museum
• contacts local television stations and newspapers with information about the museum
• works with the Graphic Designer to create posters, brochures, and advertisements
• assists with assembling the museum catalog
• Skills: good vocabulary, creative writer, comfortable public speaker
• You could be a Public Relations Officer if you are creative with words and are good at public speaking.

• runs the museum gift shop, which sells postcards and other small souvenirs
• arranges and displays the merchandise for easy shopping
• handles money and helps visitors to the museum shop
• in charge of other shop clerks
• Skills: good with people, enjoys math and money counting, good organizational skills
• You could be a Museum Shop Manager if you like meeting people and working with money.

• in charge of safety for all museum objects and visitors
• ensures that all museum rules are followed
• assist visitors with questions
• stationed throughout the museum during visiting hours
• Skills: knowledge of rules, good with people
• You could be on the Museum Protection Staff if you recognize the importance of following rules and enjoy
dealing with all kinds of people.

AND (Equally Important)!

LIBRARIAN– in charge of the museum’s library of books and historical archives, where members and staff can
borrow books and do research.

SLIDE/DIGITAL LIBRARIAN – in charge of the museum’s slide library, where images of the museum’s collection and related objects and images are filed for use by docents, lecturers and teachers.

BUILDING AND GROUND STAFF – in charge of maintaining the building and grounds of the museum in good condition,
including repairing walls and roofs, mowing lawns, cleaning floors and clearing ice and snow.

DEVELOPMENT OFFICER – in charge of raising the money necessary to running the museum by contacting
businesses, government agencies and charitable foundations.

MEMBERSHIP OFFICER – in charge of the museum’s membership programs, aimed at individuals and companies
who pay a yearly fee to enjoy special benefits from their support of the museum.

BUSINESS OFFICER – in charge of the museum’s financial affairs such as making sure bills are paid on time,
keeping the museum’s expenses from exceeding income, and paying staff their salaries.

SOCIAL MEDIA OFFICER – in charge of the museums’ presence across various social (digital) media.

NOT TO MENTION: Conservators, Film Projectionists, Cafe Staff (very important!), Trustees (cannot do without them), and too too many others…

*The above is an elementary list of museum workers & their responsibilities which we have borrowed from Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.

ICOM-US International Council of Museums - Hug A Museum Worker - MUSEUMVIEWS - Homa Taj


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