Category Archives: Blog

Next Steps for NEMPN

It is with great respect that we announce a transition of our NEMPN leadership team. Our founding President, Michelle Epps; Vice President, Katie Conrad; and our Secretary, Kristen Mihalko will be stepping down from their roles on the executive team. Sena Dawes, our Communications Chair, will also be stepping down from her role on NEMPN Board. On behalf of NEMPN, we wish Michelle, Kristen, Katie, and Sena luck, and thank them for their boundless support and guidance over the years.In this transition, the Board has elected an Interim leadership team, until new candidates can be officially voted in. Our new leadership team is:

Interim Co-Presidents, Sierra Van Ryck deGroot and Sierra Polisar (hereby known as “the Sierras”)

Interim Treasurer, Chloe Doucette

Interim Secretary, Laura Santoyo

Interim Resource Chair, Michelle Reynolds

The National Emerging Museum Professionals Network (NEMPN) was built to give museum professionals across the country and the world a voice, a community, and the resources to flourish in their careers, and it is in this spirit that our newly restructured Board of Directors is excited to rethink and revitalize NEMPN alongside the vibrant community of professionals that our group has become.As we embark on this transition, we are putting out a call for additional Board members to join us in support of our mission and reenergizing the NEMPN. Please find our call for Board members and information on how to apply here:

We are also looking to include the voices and ideas of the EMP community as much as possible as we rethink what NEMPN can and should do to support museum professionals. We will be hosting a virtual EMP Town Hall on August 11th at 8 pm ET via Zoom. Please visit the Facebook group for more information on the EMP Town Hall.

Farewell Message from NEMPN President Michelle Epps

After advocating for emerging museum professionals for 10 years, I believe it is time for me to step down as president of the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network in order to focus more on my role as Executive Director of the Cleveland-based Art Therapy Studio. Both the pandemic and the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks has resulted in both an increase in demand and need for mental health services to the community in which my organization is positioned and supports. I have come to the realization that I am not able to serve the missions of both organizations with my full-self and would rather relinquish one so both don’t fail. Though I am sad to leave, this will allow NEMPN to welcome a fresh perspective with new leadership which will propel the organization into the next decade. This was a difficult decision for me to make as I am still very passionate about improving the museum field.

Six years ago I set out to unite all the Emerging Museum Professional chapters when the American Alliance of Museums decided to move in another direction for their EMP initiatives. The formation of the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network from its inception has been a collaborative effort. There are so many individuals to thank for making NEMPN possible; from our current board members who are trying to listen and respond to the needs and wants of the larger EMP community at this moment, to the past board members and current and former chapter leaders who participated in countless meetings and were incredibly generous with their time and limited resources. 

During my role as President, we made great strides in advancing our cause and I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished together. I wanted to take a moment to highlight the work we have done collectively to show how far we have come and hopefully inspire us to go further still. Together we effectively worked with our colleagues at 43 museum associations to support the adoption of salary transparency policies on their job boards. We started a partnership with Rogers Publishing to create Theory & Practice, a journal dedicated exclusively to the writings of emerging museum professionals. Collectively we compiled and vetted a detailed list of museum studies programs in the U.S.and hosted this information in one place to allow for easier searching of programs available. We also surveyed our community to discover details and insights into who EMPs are and what challenges we face in breaking into the field. And lastly, we worked to create a space of learning and collaboration on our social media accounts by promoting real discussion about the challenges facing the museum field today. All these accomplishments would not be possible without YOU!

“Retiring” alongside me are former Vice President Katie Conrad and former Secretary Kristen Mihalko. Both Katie and Kristen have been instrumental in keeping NEMPN going over the last couple of years and I owe them a debt of gratitude for their loyalty, compassion, and dedication. Though we may be departing, the current NEMPN board will continue on with our mission to engage museum professionals across all stages of their careers in building vibrant communities of networking, knowledge exchange, and resource sharing. We know there is still more work to be done and we hope you will remain engaged so we can continue to advocate together for museums to do and be better.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to emerging museum professionals!


Michelle Epps

Immediate Past President 

National EMP Network

The Integration of Digital Technology and American Art Museum Practices

Emerging Op-Eds is a community series that shares opinions, reflections, and tips from our NEMPN members. Have an idea or a topic you’d like to share? Submit your idea here.

The Integration of Digital Technology and American Art Museum Practices
By Emily Crum

The digital age of the 21st century promises an innovative, forward-thinking technological era. Smart phones, the takeover of social media, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all by-products of the tech boom that has developed over the past 15 years. This time of change raises several challenges across industries, including museums. In 2016, a photo went viral of a group of children in front of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. This photograph by Gijsbert van der Wal features a group of a dozen young people that are glued to their cellphone screens.(1)

Rembrandt The Night Watch: The real story behind the ‘kids on phones’ photo

The image encapsulates how easy it is to miss out on the experience and beauty right in front of you due to technology. Each child appears to be immensely bored with the experience. It sparked an international debate as to if the students were simply a metaphor for our age, or using their phones to complete research for their class assignment. The main synopsis was that today’s youth are more interested in their screens and applications than the artwork on display. Others argued that the students were using the museum’s freely downloadable multimedia tour. A well-designed application should not solely exist through an experience on a technological platform, but also encourage direct interaction with the artwork on display. Digital technology within art museums are tools for access and engagement and can enhance the experience in the presence of art. 

American art museums are running into two problems. First, museum educators cannot adequately meet the needs of every individual and second, educators cannot assume that every visitor has the same level of knowledge or entry narrative. According to Cuseum for Art Museums, the challenge is “with such rich educational experiences to be had in the museum, visitors find themselves wishing for more information, but no easy way to get it. Too much signage is distracting from the art, a lack of guidance leaves people seeking direction, and visitors have an increasing set of unique needs”.(2)

So, what does this mean for the future? Can art museums become immersive and interactive experiences that foster learning and curiosity without completely forgoing the traditional, ritualistic aspect of museum experience? Why are people more excited to visit a history or science museum? Best practices for art museum educators today show that museums should be attempting to reach an audience that has historically been unrepresented or disinterested in a museum. But, how can a museum expect someone to change their outlook if  1) museum practices do not change or grow, or 2) do not develop and offer new tools with the outcome to promote access, interpretation, and experience? 

One example of a museum adapting technology is the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) in Cleveland, Ohio. The CMA developed and integrated one of the most technologically advanced interactive art experiences in the world: ArtLens Gallery. As part of a $350 million expansion project, “ArtLens Gallery is a multi-faceted, innovative experience that allows you, your family, and friends to look closer, dive deeper, and have fun discovering the museum’s collection using award-winning digital technology.”(3) I received a grant from the School of the Art Institute to travel to see this technology in person in January 2019. Comprised of four different sections – Exhibition, Studio, App, and Wall – the ArtLens Gallery’s multi-faceted technological achievement is a prime example of the relationship technology can have in conjunction with museum participation, interpretation, and learning. According to Jake Barton, the president of Local Projects, the goal of the CMA ArtLens Gallery was to “create something where if you’d never been in a museum before you’d be intrigued, and if you’ve been to many museums, you’d still feel comfortable”.(4)

Image result for art lens cleveland

The CMA is essentially granting their visitors the capability to engage with the collection and create stories that are relevant to themselves on a platform that is comfortable through current and advanced technology. The CMA’s ArtLens Gallery is a prime example of how the relationship between new technologies in museums cultivate new ways of visitor engagement, interpretation, and learning. The gallery promotes engagement through a series of games, challenges, and creativity throughout the exhibition, studio, app, and wall programs that challenge the visitors in a variety of ways and appeal to general curiosity. All these facets come together to create a full, museum-wide experience that starts in the ArtLens Gallery and percolates throughout the collection, creating an overall sense of curiosity, wonder, and desire for learning. ArtLens Gallery technology allows the visitor the opportunity to create a personalized visit and experience that can be different each and every time.

Image result for art lens cleveland

The ArtLens Gallery tackles many of the most prominent arguments related to modernization and the changing of the museum experience. Today, “people come to museums for storytelling and engagement, and [expect] the technology needs to facilitate that”.(5) Technology allows the freedom and independence for visitors to customize their experiences both inside and out of the physical space, but aids in a deeper connection and conversation to happen within the gallery itself. Another goal of the ArtLens Gallery and its programming is to reduce the discomfort that non-traditional or unfamiliar visitors experience upon entering these “ivory tower” types of institutions. This technology is a program that aids in developing toolsets for its users, enabling them to look closer at each aspect of an art object, cultivate a deeper understanding, and develop a new, personal relationship to works in the museum’s collection. After this first interaction with ArtLens, a museum visitor, upon returning to the CMA, will be faced with new challenges, new works, and new adventures that elevates their experience with the CMA’s collection. While not the final solution on the issue, the CMA has developed one of the most cutting-edge technologies with the intent to foster experience and engagement, essentially setting the stage for best practices in the field. 

Digital technologies within museums provide a platform that resonates with American society. These technologies can help visitors learn how to look at art, and what to look for, in order to recognize commonalities and patterns over multiple mediums. For individuals that find it challenging or feel uncertain to visit these institutions, digitized tools and collections can be a source of comfort for navigating such cultural treasure-troves. This is also true for the youth of America today that are the future of these institutions. If the youth of today are given meaningful and exciting experiences, then they are more likely to recognize the importance of these institutions, ensuring their longevity and commitment to serving their wide-ranging publics. So, the final question is not how, but when will all museums integrate technology?

7AE1ED64-D224-4F19-A983-2DB742500C3DEmily Crum is a passionate museum educator based in Chicago, IL who strives to ensure museum spaces are innovative, accessible, and serving the public at large. Currently, Emily is the Education Coordinator at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum and a Master’s candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Now in her third and final year, Emily is completing a dual degree program in Arts Administration and Policy and Modern and Contemporary Art History, and she will complete her studies this upcoming May. She holds a BA with Honors in The History of Art and Architecture with an emphasis in Museum Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Emily has a wide array of experiences from holding positions in several museums, the government, and more. She is most passionate about exposing all audiences to art and culture through facilitating experiences with lasting impact. Connect with Emily via LinkedIn.

  1.  Molloy, Mark. “The Real Story behind a Viral Rembrandt ‘Kids on Phones’ Photo,” January 16, 2016, sec. News.
  2. “Art Museums.” Cuseum,
  3. “ArtLens Gallery.” ArtLens Gallery | Cleveland Museum of Art, 31 Oct. 2018.
  4. Fred A. Bernstein, “Technology That Serves to Enhance, Not Distract”, The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2018
  5. “Art Museums.” Cuseum,

How to Find Funding and Get Your Foot in the Door

Emerging Op-Eds is a community series that shares opinions, reflections, and tips from our NEMPN members. Have an idea or a topic you’d like to share? Submit your idea here.

How to Find Funding and Get Your Foot in the Door
By Tiffany Miller

Anyone working or studying in cultural institutions knows how difficult it is to find funding and funded opportunities. Even funded experiences, such as internships, fellowships, or educational grants, typically provide bare minimum wages. As an EMP who just finished a fellowship at the university that I graduated from, I barely made enough money to pay my rent, bills, and get groceries, so I had to go out and get second job. College students and recent graduates should not have to find an internship or job that pays next to nothing, and unpaid internship are not an option for everyone.

Hopefully things will change, but in the meantime, I hope some EMPs find new ways of funding their work opportunities and other cost-effective ways of getting out there in the field!

1. Research

There are a lot of professional affiliations and networks that share openings for paid internships and jobs, such as AAMG and AAM. It is is free for students to become a member of AAMG, so once you join you can search for grants, internship opportunities, and scholarships. This is a great place to start to find a position that meets your professional and educational goals at a wide variety of institutions, and to get a sense of what jobs are out there.

2. Ask and Think Outside the Box!

At my undergraduate university, scholarships and grants were not well advertised at all. I did not even know about these types of funding until my sophomore year when I started as a work-study student at a museum. I asked my supervisor about ways I could fund my unpaid summer internship, and they showed me the seemingly hidden section on the university’s website. From there, I began applying to any department that offered grants that were related to my internship. In my case, this included art history, Italian, and off-campus studies (which may help you secure college credit for unpaid internships).

3. Join a Club

A lot of clubs at schools and within your local communities have funding available, either from fundraisers or endowments. Ask if you are eligible to utilize it. Joining a club is also a great way to meet people for future connections (which I get into further down).

4. Experience

Funding may be more readily given to those with good amounts of experience, as this demonstrates that you have a solid idea of what you want to do. For example, for graduate school I secured full funding for my program solely based on my experience, not merit: I completed internships every summer, additional volunteering, and worked in a variety of museums in different departments and locations. This allowed me to develop a diverse, well-rounded background to become a more desirable candidate for funding sources.

5. Start a Blog

If you are interested in a certain topic, starting your own blog is a great way to get your writing out there and shared with friends and colleagues. This is also a great addition for school, internship, and job applications. From an employer perspective, it is nice to see people take initiative and step into the field through other channels, especially if you are gaining consistent or new feedback on your published work.

Rachel suggests: Check out Medium – this is a user friendly platform that you can use to create a basic blog to get your writing published without needing to build a website from scratch.

6. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Try working within a different department at your current museum. Or, if you only worked, interned in, or thought about working at an art museum, try volunteering or working/interning at a natural history museum. You may be surprised once you get out of your comfort zone! It is helpful to understand how other departments or institutions work to be a better employee in the future. In my opinion, finding out what you like to do is just as important as knowing what you do not like. 

7. Network Like It’s Your Job

Whether it is going to the opening of a new exhibit, volunteering, interning, reading blogs, or interacting on social media, there are many ways to connect with new people who share your interests. That one person you met at a random gallery opening or on a trip to a museum could be the person giving you a job, or recommending you for an opening somewhere else. Follow up with them afterwards to reaffirm that connection so that they remember you. It is hard enough to get a job, especially in museums, so reaching out with a quick email after meeting people in the field can go far.


This seems like a no-brainer, but you never know who people know. Always be the best version of yourself: if you show rudeness, complain frequently, arrive late, or miss an appointment, your peer or supervisor might share this with know someone at a different institution that you may eventually want to work at. Poor behavior could result in your supervisor not writing you a good letter of recommendation, or one at all. One of my previous supervisors told me that she would never write recommendations for a fellow, work-study student, or even a volunteer that performed poorly.

As with anything, if you work hard, show effort, show desire to work in the field, and are polite, all of that goes far while trying to establish your career in museums.

NEMPN Photo_Tiffany MillerTiffany Miller is a graduate student at Syracuse University studying Museum Studies and Art History. She obtained her BA in Art History in 2018 while also studying Museum Studies and Italian at DePauw University. Previously, she worked in museums and galleries in New York, Washington DC, Minnesota, and Indiana, as well as in Italy, and recently finished her year-long Collections and Outreach fellowship at the Richard E. Peeler Art Center at DePauw University. She works in collections management and registration, and focuses her research on provenance history, as well as Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and their perceptions, preservation, and placement in art collections. You can reach her at

Networking as Community Building

Emerging Op-Eds is a community series that shares opinions and tips from our NEMPN members. Have an idea or a topic you’d like to share? Submit your idea here.

Networking as Community Building
By Isabel Singer

As soon as I graduated from my master’s program, I started avidly networking in order to find a job in the museum sector. However, as the months wore on and a year passed by, I felt extremely frustrated that my efforts had not resulted in employment. I decided to take a break, regroup, and reflect on my process.

After careful consideration, I realized that I needed to change my perspective on networking. Good networking is more than developing instrumental ties; it is an opportunity to build a community. While I had not yet landed a job, my efforts had yielded valuable knowledge and relationships that I cherished.

Below is an abridged account of some of the lessons I have gleaned and a few of the amazing people I have met while building myself a community of museum professionals.

If you’re genuinely interested in someone’s work, it never hurts to ask them to get coffee.

Some of my most important professional relationships began because I boldly (and politely) asked a person who I admired to grab a coffee with me, even if we had no direct connection. I’ve had the privilege to take a stroll with an executive director who made an intriguing comment on an acquaintance’s LinkedIn post. I’ve talked on the phone with the head of evaluation of a major US art museum. I even interviewed an exhibit developer who worked on the amazing new SUE exhibit at the Field Museum for my blog. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst thing has happened to me when I reached out is that someone did not respond or told me they were too busy to meet.

However, don’t reach out to people because you think they can help get you a job. When I first started networking, I reached out to a few people solely because they worked at an organization that had a job opening or they were connected to people who could hire me. My desire for a favor colored my conversations with them and none of us benefited from the interactions.

Be open to changing your career goals

Talking to Kiah Shapiro, the Manager of Strategy at Luci Creative, showed me that I needed to think more broadly about my career. When we met for coffee in January 2018, Kiah told me that she believed her team at Luci is so strong because they have multidisciplinary experiences from outside the museum world. Her colleagues use their diverse research, project management, design, and team building skills to create experiences for museums, non-profit institutions, and even corporations. I was intrigued by the functions of her job and the people with whom she worked. Museums were not the end goal of her job, but one path towards achieving her goals.

After my conversation with Kiah, I expanded my primary career goal from “finding work in or with museums” to “finding opportunities that combine my desire to collaborate with people, my devotion to improving the world, and my love of research.” I want to spend my time building bridges between people and knowledge and I believe museums are one path towards that goal.

If you’re willing to put in time and effort, you can access incredible growth opportunities.

While looking for ways to hone my visitor studies skills, I met Fran Mast, a Research and Evaluation (R&E) Associate at the Shedd Aquarium, at a Chicago Museum Exhibitors Group (CMEG)  meet-up. She needed assistance collecting and analyzing data, and I enthusiastically volunteered to spend two Sundays each month at the Shedd. I embarked on the best volunteer experience that I have ever had.

As an R&E volunteer at the Shedd, not only did I have the opportunity to contribute to a great organization, but my social science research skills improved immensely. I underwent extensive volunteer training from which I gained a greater appreciation of the IRB process. While collecting surveys from hundreds of visitors, I observed the ways different survey designs and my own preconceptions can impact sampling. I interviewed dozens of visitors and improved my ability to ask good probes. Overall, I became more observant and a better listener.

Invest in personal friendships.

After a CMEG meeting, I stood outside waiting for an Uber with a fellow job seeker, Filippa Christofalou. I had just received several rejections from jobs and was feeling pretty hopeless. “I’ll never get a job in the museum sector,” I lamented to Filippa. “Why do I keep trying?”

Filippa turned to me and smiled sympathetically, “I get that you’re frustrated. I am too. But, you have a unique perspective to offer. Someone will see that,” she said. “Don’t give up. I’m certainly not giving up on either of us.”

Even when the road is rough, It is comforting to know I am not alone in my frustrations and I have peers who believed in me.

Seek out mentors and embrace their feedback.

Colleen Dilenschneider consistently reminds me why I love the cultural sector. I came across her blog, Know Your Own Bone, when researching visitor studies and exhibit development strategies. I read the blog voraciously and found it incredibly insightful. Curious to learn more about the person behind the content, I looked Colleen up on LinkedIn. When I realized she also lived in Chicago, I got up the courage to shoot her an email and asked her to grab coffee with me. A day later her project coordinator emailed me and we set up a meeting.

When we finally met, Colleen and I talked for hours. We dorked out about data trends in the cultural sector and discussed the manifold reasons cultural organizations need to become more inclusive. Her positivity was infectious and she asked me thoughtful, penetrating questions about my dreams and goals. Her career route was circuitous and fascinating. I left our first meeting feeling more optimistic about the museum sector and my role in it than I had in months.

After meeting Colleen, I asked her to formally mentor me. Now, we meet quarterly to catch up, discuss my career trajectory, brainstorm solutions to challenges I’m facing, and just chat about the cultural sector. I appreciate that she gives gives me honest critical feedback and pushes me to be my best. I always leave my meetings with Colleen feeling refreshed and ready to face new challenges.

Keep networking even after you have the job.

In December 2018, Luci Creative called to offer me a job. It was a dream come true, a moment I had been hoping for since I sat down for coffee with Kiah Shapiro nearly a year prior. While networking is certainly not the reason I got the job, I believe that the fact that I already knew Kiah and a few of the other Luci team members helped my prospects.

However, just because I have a job in the museum sector doesn’t mean I have stopped networking. The knowledge that I acquired and the relationships I developed in the past year and a half have been too significant for me to pass up the opportunity to meet new people. So, please reach out if you’d like to chat! I’m always looking to befriend more of my peers.

IBS Headshot
Isabel Singer is an Exhibit Developer at Luci Crea
tive, where she supports the strategy team in developing content for exhibits and spaces in museums, cultural institutions, and corporations. An active museum blogger, Isabel provides insight into industry trends and interviews experts in their fields. Isabel developed her strong research, analysis, and writing skills while earning her B.A at Yale and MPhil at the University of Cambridge, both in history. She honed these skills by performing audience research at the Shedd Aquarium, creating professional development programming for public historians at Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center, and helping the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum improve its interpretation of women. Isabel is also a classically trained vocalist and spends her free time performing with a small world folk music group. Email her at 

Seven Ways Volunteering Can Help Emerging Museum Professionals

Emerging Op-Eds is a community series that shares opinions and tips from our NEMPN members. Have an idea or a topic you’d like to share? Submit your idea here.

Seven Ways Volunteering Can Help Emerging Museum Professionals
By Amanda Hoffman

Our time is the most valuable commodity we can give the world. But after a full day of meetings or a long week at work, offering more of our time to volunteering is the last thing we want to think about. There are many personal and professional benefits to volunteer work that you probably never thought about, like experiences you can’t always gain during your daily work routine. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily hustle of our careers, but I encourage EMPs to take a step back to think about volunteering in your community.

1. Enhance your understanding of the volunteers you work with.

Volunteers are an integral and vital part of many museums and non-profits. For those of us who work with volunteers on a regular basis, we need to understand and acknowledge them – they deserve to feel appreciated and acknowledged! The best way to understand volunteers is to be one. If you begin to donate your time to different organizations, you understand what kind of an impact you have as a volunteer. Furthermore, you’ll notice the efforts those organizations make to ensure volunteers feel valued – like organizational perks, special events, or small annual gifts. That knowledge can help you make the volunteers you work with daily feel satisfied, and when that happens, everybody benefits.

2. Gain a better understanding of your community.

Ideally, everything museums do should benefit their members while reflecting what the community wants and needs in their exhibits, programs and opportunities. By being an active participant in your own neighborhood, you can improve your knowledge of what people actually want from their local institutions. When you donate your time, you’ll work with people you may not have met otherwise, building a diverse network of peers and friends.

3. Develop new professional skills.

You are probably developing skills everyday, but there are certain strengths you can develop outside your office that you might not have the opportunity to advance at your job. If you work behind the scenes in an office setting, consider volunteering in a public-facing capacity to improve your communication skills. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to give graphic design or social media administration a try, but those skills just don’t fit into your workload. Volunteering can allow you to try something new without impacting your day-to-day responsibilities at work. 

4. Determine precise career goals.

Volunteering can you help look beyond your current professional scope or experiences to discover that your true passion could be somewhere completely different. You’ll also get a chance to meet new people with similar interests. Some of these folks will be established professionals; by learning about their career paths, that could help determine your own. And, even if these new acquaintances don’t work in a museum, they’ll be able to give you invaluable advice. Take it!

5. Explore your work place needs.

Since volunteering doesn’t come with the same pressure as a daily 9-5 job, you can utilize this time to figure out what you are want in an ideal work environment. Workplaces are not one-size-fits-all, and it takes serious thought to decide which aspects of a work environment are the most important to you. Maybe you prefer a more informal and independent setting, or perhaps you work better under management that outlines daily tasks and goals. Maybe you want to work at a smaller or larger organization, so you choose to volunteer somewhere that gives you that new scope. Volunteering can help you figure out which style is best for you.

6. Build confidence.

Walking into a job interview or an important meeting with extra knowledge, diversified experiences, and an expansive resume can put you ahead of other candidates. Volunteering can provide you with a sense of purpose that can make you ooze confidence… the best boost for your career and personal life.

7. Giving back feels good!

Museums wouldn’t be where they are today without an active community of supporters. A big part of what attracts people to work in the museum industry is being able to perform meaningful and fulfilling work for the community. And this desire to do something good doesn’t end at 5 o’clock on Friday. Knowing that you’re helping to make your community a more connected place will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Apart from all the benefits volunteering can offer, it is also a lot of fun! I know it can be difficult to add another activity to your already busy schedule, but it will be worth it. Even donating one afternoon a month to a non-profit or charity can change your perspective and attitude in a positive way.


Amanda Hoffman currently serves as the Youth Programs Coordinator at the Tampa Bay History Center. She holds a Master’s in Museum Studies from the University of Aberdeen and a B.A. in History from the University of Central Florida. For more information, contact Amanda at

Getting Set Up for Your Museum Job Search

Emerging Op-Eds is a community series that shares opinions and tips from our NEMPN members. Have an idea or a topic you’d like to share? Submit your idea here.

Getting Set Up for Your Museum Job Search
by Caroline Klibanoff

Gearing up for a job search in the museum field can be a daunting process. Last summer, as I finished my M.A. in Public History, I spent several months “on the market”: networking, doing informational interviews, submitting applications and interviewing. To my surprise, I found myself sort of…enjoying the process! I had been through a couple career changes, and I knew I would be graduating, so I had some time to get prepared. These are some do-ahead steps I picked up that made the entire process easier, and I’m eager to share them with the emerging museum professional community in the hopes of lightening the job search burden — both to help you land a great role, and more importantly, take care of yourself.

Step 1: Write a pitch for yourself.

I borrowed the following tactic from Karamo Brown from Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” and it serves several purposes.

Write down (really — write it down!) two sentences, and stick this somewhere that you can see it every day. The first sentence should say what it is you want to do. This can be somewhat detailed depending on your career goals, any constraints you have, and where you see yourself working every day. The second sentence will explain why you deserve it – and you should feel free to brag!

During my job search, I wrote, “I want to be employed full-time by a large institution to create projects and systems that better facilitate public engagement with the humanities. I deserve it because I have developed a thorough understanding of digital tools, communications strategies and how to coordinate teams, and have a unique talent for helping people connect with history.”

While it may seem silly, this statement serves two purposes. First, you can look at it every day and remind yourself why you ARE good enough for the roles you’re pursuing, even when the search gets discouraging.

Second, it helps distill what you are actually after so that you can share that news with people whenever they ask. This gives you a quick way to identify what is most important to you (i.e., a small museum; something where I can handle objects; a place that embraces the digital) without resorting to a laundry list of roles that might appeal (“I’m hoping to work in a history museum…or a historic site…or an archive…or for the government…”).

Which brings me to step #2.

STEP 2: Make some lists.

Before or during your job search, people are going to ask you what you want to do, which presents a great opportunity to help them help you by making connections, passing on openings or suggesting places to work that you might not have heard of. You can speed up the process by making a few lists:

  • List 5 people who have jobs you that you think are cool. Reach out to these people, cold, and ask them if they have 15 minutes to speak with you via phone about their career path and what they know about the landscape for doing cool work like theirs around your city, or your subfield, or their museum. At the end of the call, ask them who else they’d recommend that you speak to.
  • List 10 institutions you’d want to work at. Make a list of places where you’d really like to focus on landing a job. Note whether you know anyone working there. If you do, make sure you talk to them early in the process to get a sense of the organization’s priorities and whether they’re hiring any positions soon. If you don’t know anyone there, start tackling that — search on LinkedIn, or email someone to see if they’ll talk to you.
  • List the people close to you who support you. This one is crucial. Being on the job market can be disheartening, and even when things are going well it can still be confusing and stressful. Speaking from personal experience (ahem), it’s good to make a decent-sized list if you can, so you can call in the second string and give your significant other an occasional break.

STEP 3: Get your system organized.

  • Schedule. I put a note on my calendar to repeat every Thursday at 12:00pm that said “Check job sites.” This is a low-pressure enough task that you can block off some time dedicated to it while on your lunch break and then have the satisfaction of crossing this one off your list.
  • Subscribe. Sign up for job digest emails so that you can read through the latest postings on your phone during your commute. Set up Google alerts or other keyword searches on job sites for “museum” and any job titles you think you’d like to have. Download the Indeed app and upload your resume so that you can get customized recommended jobs delivered to you via email (and you can scroll the app while you’re waiting in line for a coffee). Put all of the websites that list postings — everything from the AAM job board to the Careers page of the individual museum you want to work at — in a Bookmarks folder and go down the list once a week to check for new openings. Even if you’re not ready to apply, getting on the right listservs now will help you stay “in the know” about who’s hiring for what roles.
  • Standardize. It’s hard to find time to write cover letters, let alone fill out the long web forms where you have to repeat all of the information in your resume (thank you, USAJOBS!) One game-changer for me was to create a Master Resume and Master Cover Letter where I dumped in everything I’ve ever done, worded in different ways depending on what skills I wanted to highlight. For each job you’re ready to apply to, just copy and paste lines from your Master File — and you’re done.
  • Sticky. I had to type my references’ and past supervisors names, titles, addresses and phone numbers so many times that eventually I caught on and put a sticky note on my desktop with this information so I didn’t have to look it up every time. You can also create a “References” page in your Master File and select the most appropriate references for each job application. Just make sure you keep their contact information up to date, and give them a little courtesy heads up when you apply and include them as a reference.
  • Steal time. If you, like, me, are finishing graduate school while working several jobs, I know you have very little free time. But this might mean that you have some flexible hours in which you can do interviews and phone calls with people who work standard hours in offices. It becomes much harder to do any kind of phone or video calls once you’re at a full-time job, so take advantage of your student schedule and the quiet meeting rooms in your university’s library. Many have rooms specifically for phone/video interviews.


I know what it’s like to have great job listings sitting open in a tab on your laptop for literal weeks. And juuust when you finally carve out time to polish your application, you discover that the posting has been removed.

My method now is to get the application out the door, as best I can, without making it my life’s work. The goal is to get a first interview, not to land the entire position in one cover letter. Imagine if you spent several days perfecting your application, only to learn there was an internal candidate all along! And don’t get in your own way by doubting whether you really want the job or whether you have every last qualification. It’s their job to sift through candidates and decide who’s qualified and pick a candidate who’s a fit — don’t do their job for them by taking yourself out of the running.

The museum field is competitive and looking for the right position can be overwhelming, even when things are going well. Having been through this myself, I am eager to share anything I’ve learned that might make it easier going forward for others. It is my hope that with enough advance planning and the use of “infrastructure” like lists, templates and schedules — can you tell I ultimately accepted a role as a project manager?—  that the job search becomes a smooth and even enjoyable process.


klibanoff-150x150Caroline Klibanoff is a public historian working at the intersection of digital outreach and storytelling. As exhibitions project manager at the MIT Museum, she coordinates exhibit development, video and interactive production, and logistics for a brand-new museum opening in 2021.

She graduated with her M.A. in Public History and Certificate in Digital Humanities from Northeastern University, and with a B.A. in American Studies and Film & Media Studies from Georgetown University. Klibanoff has conducted research for Northern Light Productions; planned a symposium on immigration for the Cambridge Historical Society; completed the National Register of Historic Places documentation for the Longfellow House; and coordinated the activities of the Northeastern University’s Digital Scholarship Group. Prior to joining the public history field, Klibanoff worked in communications and video production for several years at the Pew Research Center and the FrameWorks Institute. She also sits on the leadership team of the Bridge Alliance, a civic engagement organization. Contact Caroline on Twitter @cklibanoff.

How to Prove Your Qualifications in One Interview

Emerging Op-Eds is a community series that shares opinions and tips from our NEMPN members. Have an idea or a topic you’d like to share? Submit your idea here.

How to Prove Your Qualifications in One Interview
By Tory Schendel Cox

Fortunately, I have been steadily employed as a museum professional for 8 years. Nonetheless, for as many contract, temporary, or permanent jobs I received, the amount of rejection letters almost triple my obtained positions. However, I gained a new perspective from each experience and managed to learn something regardless of the end result. Nevertheless, due to my last interview, I wanted to share a strategy that has consistently resulted in my hiring.

As 2019 was approaching, my gallery position was ending and the grueling process of job hunting was upon me. Spending days and nights applying for anything museum related, I came across a job that caught my eye—Virginia G. Schroeder Curator of Art in big beautiful black letters scrolled up my screen. Perplexed at how this fabulous job could end up on a search engine, I clicked on the details to learn more. After reviewing the job description, I was hooked. This is my dream job. I needed to apply. Once the required materials were submitted, my heart stopped. Although I reviewed my application more times than I would like to admit, I was convinced I made a mistake and would never receive an interview. However, I was wrong. I submitted the application on Sunday at 4:15 AM and an email graced my inbox at 12:20 PM inquiring about an interview. I almost fell out of my chair.

With six days to prepare, I began to strategize. While learning about the institution’s rich history, diverse collection, and interesting staff, I came to the conclusion I needed to tangibly prove my research, creative, and personable skills. Therefore, what better way to show creativity and research than a self-created binder with sections covering: the job description and expectations, future exhibition and community plans, and the AAM accreditation process (as it was referenced several times in the job description). I filled each section with relevant pages of information, highlighted lines and sections that I wanted more elaboration, and jotted questions in the margins. Additionally, I had a copy of my most recent, grant funded, original research paper on hagiography in a booklet ready to leave with the Executive Director. Although I felt confident in my strategy, I was nervous as to what her reaction would be.

On the day of the interview, I drove in early to tour the museum and gain a better perspective of the objects in the collection. Because of my staff research, I noticed the Executive Director standing behind the counter. I could not help but smile and she seemed to know why I was doing so. Once we made our way to her office, it was time to implement my strategy. As I sat down at the table, I took out my notebook, the binder, highlighter, and pen. As I put on my glasses, I started with the job description and the conversation took off. Three-and-a-half hours later, we covered everything in my binder, from front to back, and every highlighted and written question. Neither one of us realized how much time elapsed until an announcement came over the intercom. As we wrapped up our final thoughts, I left her with my neatly packaged research paper and she walked me to the front desk. Two weeks later, I received a phone call. She offered me the position and I still cannot fully express my gratitude.

As noted in both publications, Museum Careers: A Practical Guide for Students and Novices and A Life in Museums: Managing Your Museum Career, while preparing for an interview, it is important to be cognizant that every candidate applying is probably as skilled, educated, and possibly experienced as you. Therefore, it is your duty to set yourself apart from the other applicants. Since we are in a profession where you are expected to be creative, try your skills out in the interview. Think of ways that you can tangibly produce or do something that embodies the major points in the job description. Do not be afraid to try something a little different. If your methods are questioned, defend them. Let the hiring manager know the job description carefully created by the institution warranted this type of action.

I learned of other museum professionals who implemented similar strategies during their interviews: an Education Curator brought a self-made activity applicable to the museum, a Collections Manager brought in a toy to demonstrate proper handling and cataloging, and a Membership Officer took the hiring manager into the lobby area and began engaging with the public. These creative yet small things will leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager. With the competitiveness of our field, we only have one opportunity to prove our skills and vitality to the organization. Therefore, if you have the credentials, take the risk and do something innovative—part of your salary will depend on your creativity. I hope you find some inspiration from this blog and good luck on the transition from emerging to professional museum worker.


Tory Schendel Cox is the Virginia G. Schroeder Curator of Art at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science. Since 2010, Tory has served the arts community cross-county and abroad. Notably, she has performed curatorial work for Newfields, IN, formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IN), Indiana State Museum (IN), Death Valley National Park (CA), and the National Museum of Archaeology (Greece). In addition to her work, she has won a variety of academic awards and scholarships for her research in iconography and hagiography. She earned a B.A. from Indiana University of Indianapolis and is finishing her M.A. in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She is community oriented and continually seeks opportunities for partnerships and collaboration projects. You can connect with Tory on Facebook or email her at


Curatorial Assistant, American Art (Fixed-Term) $25/Hour

Position Title
Curatorial Assistant, American Art (Fixed-Term)

Hiring Institution
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

City, State
San Francisco

Salary/Hourly Compensation

Position Description
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is seeking a Curatorial Assistant, American Art for a fixed-term position of approximately 6 months.

Under the supervision of the Curator-in-Charge, American Art, the Curatorial Assistant provides support to the curatorial staff in the day-to-day operation of the American Art Department and the American Art Study Center. They assist in administrative tasks generated by the collection, its oversight, installation, conservation, photography, publication, etc.; writing labels and other interpretive materials; interfacing with the general public; and, depending on experience, participation in temporary exhibition planning, research, and implementation.

Typical Duties and Responsibilities:

Participates in the day-to-day administrative operations of the department, including in-house actions required for the permanent collection’s maintenance and exhibition; correspondence pertaining to in-coming and out-going loans; inquiries from other institutions, the press, and public, following institutional and departmental protocol and procedures.
Assists with correspondence with scholars and facilitates research visits to the American Art Study Center by colleagues from the broader museum/academic community. Assists with permanent collection and loan exhibition tours for visitors.
Works with the Registration Department to ensure proper documentation of the collection, including acquisitions, deaccessioning, research, and logistics.
Assists with maintenance of departmental files.
Assists with monitoring activities on the art market, the auction houses, and private dealers.
Participates in the preparation of exhibition research, loans and related educational materials.
Generates and tracks work / technician / conservation / publications/ photo requests and purchase orders required to engage the assistance of other Museum departments.
Preparation of digital presentations, vetting American art books to be ordered, and directed research projects.
Minimum Qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in art history required and a knowledge of American art preferred.

Work Experience: 1-2 years of curatorial experience or other relevant museum experience.

Skills and Abilities:

Good general knowledge of American art, history, and culture.
Responsive to supervision and flexible in meeting shifting priorities.
Exceptional written and oral communication skills.
Exceptional interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively with others.
Exceptional organizational skills and ability to meet deadlines.
Familiarity with both traditional and contemporary methods of art history research.
Ability to conduct directed and independent research.
Ability to multi task in a fast paced work environment with strong follow through
Exceptional energy, initiative and productivity.
Ability of achieve and sustain best curatorial practices.
Strong communication and computer skills, strong customer service orientation.
Strong arts / aesthetic background and interests.
Familiarity with standard museum operations and practices is essential.
This is a fixed-term position for approximately 6 months, beginning mid to late February and will be eligible for our benefits package.

Application Deadline: Open until filled

Preferred Degree in Area of Study
Bachelor of art history, Bachelor of Museum Studies

Quantified Level of Education vs. Years of Experience is Preferred 
Bachelors and 0-3 years experience in the field

Interested in Hiring Applicants ONLY with direct experience to the position


Benefits Include
Health Insurance, Paid Vacation, Paid Sick/Personal Days, Lactation Room

Closing Date 
Open until filled

Management Styles of the Organization (you can find the descriptions of each style by following this link)

Resumes should be sent to
Register and upload to FAMSF Snaphire Site

Include the following with your resume
Cover Letter

Interview Process
Group Interview

Interview Follow Up 
It’s okay to call if we haven’t gotten back to applicants in the time we said we would, It’s okay to email if we haven’t gotten back to applicants in the time we said we would

Please do not call, email, or drop in to inquire about this position.

Applicants WILL be notified if they get the job.

Theory & Practice Call for Submissions Spring 2019

T&PHeadline1000 (1)Call for Papers: Theory and Practice: The Emerging Museum Professionals Journal is accepting Abstracts for consideration for its second volume: “Museum Futures: Diversity, Inclusivity, and Social Justice.”

Abstract Deadline: DEADLINE EXTENDED! Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

The future of museums is constantly in question, yet the shifting priorities of museums throughout history have shown that museums are, in fact, adaptable.

In our second volume in the “Museum Futures” series, we seek to engage in a dialogue about how issues of diversity, inclusivity, and social justice will affect how museums interact with objects, visitors, and their communities at-large. What do we mean when we speak about diversity? How can museums expand the ways in which they are inclusive? What is the role of the museum in the examination and implementation of social justice?

This volume seeks to answer these questions by exploring the transdisciplinary theories involved in museum studies, as well as what we learn from being practitioners within museums.

Submission Requirements:

  • Name and email
  • Title
  • Abstract (up to 250 words)
  • Author bio (up to 200 words)
  • Keywords (up to 5)

Deadline for Abstract is December 3, 2018 to be included in the spring 2019 issue. Submission of research papers, presentations, exhibition reviews, and book reviews are welcome. MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations are welcome as we realize the inherent transdisciplinarity of the museum field.

Authors will be notified of their accepted proposals no later than December 15, 2018.

Submissions should be made online by clicking here. If you have any questions, please email T&P Editor Kelsey Picken,

Theory and Practice: The Emerging Museum Professionals Journal is coproduced by The Museum Scholar and the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network. There are no fees for participation and all articles will be free for all to read.

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