Job Description: Museum educators design and lead educational programs and services in a museum. They often create and distribute educational materials and publications for museum visitors and may be responsible for conducting staff training sessions.
Training and Educational Qualifications: Museum educators usually have a bachelor’s degree in an art-related field such as art education or art history.
Salary: Museum educators (museum education specialists) earn an annual salary between $32,627 and $59,103.
• Museum educators usually have a bachelor’s degree in an art-related field such as art education or art history.
• Museum educators design and lead educational programs and services in a museum.
• Museum educators often create and distribute educational materials and publications for museum visitors.
Education Director/Assistant Principal, Small Public Arts Integrated High School Curriculum Coordinator/Assistant Principal, Catholic Elementary School English Teacher/Department Chair, Catholic High School
Do you know of which companies have the best internships in this field that are known to help launch a successful career?
Any large museums in large cities with education departments usually offer internships.
Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?
Large cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
What is your typical day like?
A typical day for me includes a great deal of communication with my colleagues, collaborative organizations or schools and my students. I spend one to four hours a day in meetings, on the phone or answering email. The rest of the time is spent planning for the future, working to support my staff, researching particular pieces of art, and actually in the galleries of the museum. I attend programs that have been created by my peers so that I can learn more about the collection and more importantly, remain inspired so that I can share that inspiration with our visitors.
What are your job responsibilities?
Managing a staff of four; establishing and maintaining relationships with schools and other arts organizations; overseeing the creation of resources for the Teacher Resource Center; overseeing and conducting educational resources for teachers.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job and the part that is the most important to me is being able to live out my own critical and social justice orientation through the work I am doing at the museum. This means looking at pieces of work and not only seeing the beauty and the aesthetic worth but also seeing the potential for teaching teachers and through them, students about ourselves, about social context, about dominant culture, about humanity and about the restorative qualities of art.
What do you dislike about your job?
I don’t like that there is never enough time in the day to do all the things I want or need to do.
Have you had any turning point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?
I have them all of the time, probably because I work directly with art, so the art inspires this. My most recent turning point was realizing that we need to create resources for teachers that are skills based. In other words, we need to focus on literacy or critical thinking skills rather than resources that are collection-based. This would help teachers see the role of art in fostering these skills, as well as promote the universal qualities of collections, since people tend to gravitate towards what they like.
How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?
The museum has always been one of my favorite places on earth. As I developed my career as an educator, I always wanted to explore museum education but wasn’t really even sure how I would go about doing that. I became involved in opening an arts integrated high school and after that experience was even more convinced of the potential for the arts to have a truly profound impact on cognition and learning. I was very fortunate to be hired by the museum, and I am so glad that they recognized the importance of bringing someone with an education background into this position.
Describe how you got into this industry and how you got your most recent job.
The school that I helped open developed an extensive partnership with the School of the Art Institute. Through that partnership, I was able to establish a number of professional connections with the school and the museum. When my position was eliminated due to budget cuts, I was extraordinarily lucky that I qualified for this position, and I got hired!
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
Right now I feel so happy to be at this place where my education and my work are really culminating. I am being challenged every day, and I really like feeling smart. Knowing that I am a part of a process that interrupts the potential for schools to be damaging places for children of color, but also working to make art such an integral part of helping children of color succeed and flourish, is incredible. Also, seeing my daughter at the museum and knowing that she will be raised among the art and all of the important things happening here is just amazing to me every day.
If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?
If I weren’t here at the museum, I would be thinking seriously about teaching at the college level. I might also want to investigate creating and publishing educational resources for children.
What professional publications do you read?
Art News, Art Daily, Rethinking Schools.
What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?
Go into the galleries and spend time with the art. Becoming inspired and really thinking about and responding to the art requires a different kind of mind space that is slower, more deliberate and meditative than the place that we are when we are answering the phone and pushing paper. Don’t feel guilty about going into that place. Exploit it.