Museum Missions and Professional Choices

As I was reading about mission statements it hit me how important a couple of sentences will become for every action I take as a museum professional.  We will be guided by a goal that decides what is appropriate for our institutions.  A well written mission statement allows for a large degree of freedom for the staff but there is still a limit.

It is daunting to think of trying to match all of my professional decisions with one particular mission.  There are so many kinds of museums with different types of missions that I started to think about which interested me the most. When reading through all the examples of missions, a couple definitely popped out as something I would never tire trying to accomplish.   

We are entering a poor economy, however, with a limited amount of employment opportunities.  How important is it for a museum professional to find a job at an institution with a mission that is important on a personal level?  Should we take a job that we are well qualified for even if the mission is not something that creates a feeling of personal excitement?  It is another one of those difficult situations where money and ideals are in conflict.  When it comes down to I don’t know if I would be able to get myself excited about the mission of a place like the toothpick museum, but if it was between loving toothpicks and not having a job I think the situation might change dramatically.

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One Response to Museum Missions and Professional Choices

  1. John says:

    Working for a museum with other professionals who have similar goals- a museum whose topic is interesting or meaningful to you, and whose mission is inspiring is quite an ideal. I agree that it is an ideal worth shooting for however, very few can pick the museum they want to work for and you would be hurting yourself if you did not al least remain open to museums whose topic did not initially match your interest. Your first job or even your second may be for a museum you never considered before you saw their job opening but it could be a job where you will gain the experience, test the theories and ideals, make the mistakes, and accomplish the goals that will might make you irresistable to employers at your dream museum a few years down the road.

    Besides, you might surprise yourself. In every project I have taken and in each museum I have worked for there has always been something exciting I have been able to get inspired by or some part of myself I was able to infuse into a particular project. Perhaps your ideals or passion for the profession will help inspire mission change or some other institutional growth.

    Best of luck to you

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