Book Review: For Love or Money Confronting the State of Museum Salaries

January 21, 2020

MuseumsEtc, an independent publishing house based in Edinburgh and Boston on books for museum and gallery professionals, published the book For Love or Money: Confronting the State of Museum Salaries edited by Dawn E Salerno, Mark S. Gold, and Kristina L Durocher. I chose this book because museum salary is still a relevant topic in the field, and I have wanted to write this book review for a while. Now I am glad that I am re-visiting this book since I am going to be writing more book reviews for this blog. I recommend checking out this book, especially for individuals who are new to the museum field, since each section is incredibly detailed in the topic of what is going on for museum salaries.

            It is also a relevant topic now as the pandemic hit the museum field hard (like most if not all professional fields). Many museum professionals faced layoffs, furloughs, salary cuts, schedules cut, et. cetera when museums closed or continue to offer online experiences as a result of the pandemic. There are some that have re-opened their sites to limited capacity and some even require purchasing tickets ahead of the visit. As we continue to move forward, we need to revisit museum salaries. We as a museum field need to continue to make progress in equity for gender and salary, and having these conversations as well as sharing our thoughts, ideas, and actions are important steps in improving the state of the museum field.

No description available.

For Love or Money is a collection of chapters written by various museum professionals within the museum field. Inside the book, there are twenty-four chapters and are divided into four sections: the state of museum salaries, causes and effects, addressing the issues, and turning talk into action. There are at least 29 museum professionals who have contributed their thoughts and research to this book.

            I appreciate that not only are there table charts but also cartoon depictions to illustrate and stress the points being made inside the book. In Taryn R Nie’s “Far Too Female: Museums on the Edge of a Pink Collar Profession” for instance, they included a table chart of compensation expenditure as a percentage of the operating budget and a table chart of gender ratio by position; an example from the gender ratio (according to the AAM 2017 National Museum Salary Survey) is the amount of museum professionals who held the position of volunteer coordinator who identify as male was 12.5 percent and those who identify as female was 86.8 percent.

In Emily Tuner’s “What’s Going on In This Picture? Museum Education as Undervalued Labor”, she included a number of cartoon panels that describe and illustrate the points she made in her chapter of the book. One of them labeled The price of entry to full-time museum education work displayed a hopeful candidate asking a museum professional about a full-time museum education position but was told despite her experience she was qualified for a part-time museum education position.

Also, I appreciate how much detail each writer put into their chapters as well as the amount of research they have included within the text and in their resource sections. In Charlotte Martin, Sarah Maldonado, and Anthea Song’s “A Case for Salary Transparency in Job Postings”, for instance, their chapter described how salary transparency in job postings is a relatively easy step towards the goal for assuring diversity and equity in museum and cultural institution employees, and they described New York City Museum Educators Roundtable’s (NYCMER) transition into changing their policy for all posting jobs on their job board to have salary transparency.

            On an additional note, I thought it was really awesome to see a tweet I had posted during the NYCMER conference in 2018 on the announcement of the policy change for their job board.

I recommend checking out this book for yourselves to learn more about what each museum professional has discussed about museum salaries and salary transparency.

If you like this book review and would like to see more of these posts on the blog, find out how you can become a supporter of the blog and website by “buying me a coffee”. Check out the link here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/lbmfmusedblog.

Link: https://museumsetc.com/

Moving Towards an Equitable Museum Workforce: Reaction to Salary Doc

June 6, 2019

Last week a Google Sheet was released listing salary information museum professionals have volunteered to share with the online museum community. Since workplace equity is an important topic that is discussed and implemented in the museum field, the latest news shows the museum field is serious about improving the quality of museum professionals’ work conditions. It is wonderful to learn more about what colleagues’ salary information is like in both the United States and in countries outside of the North American continent especially since we can get an idea of what salary is like in the countries before considering taking a museum position. I decided to take a closer look at the Google Sheet for both my curiosity and for this week’s blog post to share my thoughts about the document.

In the document, there are six separate spreadsheets filled with volunteered information about salary and other resources. The first tab listed the name of museum/art organization/institution, region, museum type, or number of employees at organization, role, department, city, country, starting salary, year of starting salary, current (2019) or ending salary, hourly (H) / permanent (P) / contingent/finite term employment (C), if part-time / hourly (H) / contingent/finite term employment (C), how many hours/week, benefits?, year this salary was current (if a current salary, put 2019), years of experience in field at time of current salary listed, parental leave policy at organization (and who is eligible), and an optional section for race, gender, and preferred pronouns.

Each type of museum, gallery, and organization was listed in alphabetical order. The majority of the contributions came from across the United States but there were a number of contributions that are outside of the country. For instance, there are entries from France, Switzerland, Hong Kong, India, Sweden, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, Russia, Hungary, Argentina, and South Africa. At the time of this blog post, there are 801 entries in the first tab of the Google Sheet and more entries in the other tabs. The second tab is information from Form 990 and there are links to 990s from twenty-four museums. According to the second tab, the 990s of institutional salaries is available publicly online and museum professionals are invited to find our institution, copy and paste the link, and add to the sheet.

 The third tab has a list of resources about salaries and salary studies. For instance, it listed articles, salary studies from museum associations, and a podcast. A few of the resources include the GEMM (Gender Equity in Museums) Salary Transparency Statement, a State-by-state US guide to pregnant and parenting workers’ rights (A Better Balance), Fair Museum Jobs, and a Podcast: Museopunks, Episode 35: Salary Transparency in Art Museums. Meanwhile the fourth tab has a data copy of information for sorting and the fifth tab is a copy of salaries experiential formatting. The copy of salaries experiential formatting is sorted by departments in alphabetical order then listed other information including the organizations, role, starting salary, current salary, contingent, and time period.  Then finally the last tab is a pivot by role and salary which seems to list hourly rates and general type of organizations the rates are associated with. After reading through the Google Sheet document, I am overwhelmed with so much information and very pleased with how much has been contributed to this document.

I appreciate the effort all contributors had in developing the sheet and volunteering specific information to share with the online community. Not many museum professionals are able to have access to the salary reports that are usually posted by museum associations such as the American Alliance of Museums since they are usually too expensive to purchase. By being able to learn from our colleagues, the museum field can move closer to a more equitable workforce. I feel that this document makes salary information more accessible for museum professionals. It is also great to see all of the relevant resources in one document, and we should continue to add any information that is useful for museum professionals especially for those looking for jobs in the museum field. I feel that it would be useful for me because I am curious about museum salaries in my area so I know what I am getting into when looking at museums. Museum professionals, both job seekers and current museum professionals, can benefit from this document because it gives information to help them with salary and benefits negotiations as well as having a better understanding of the salary and benefits.

If you have read the document, what are your reactions to this sheet?

Resources:

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/museum-educator-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.htm

Institutional Salaries 990: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits

GEMM (Gender Equity in Museums) Salary Transparency Statement: https://www.genderequitymuseums.com/single-post/SalaryMatters

State-by-state US guide to pregnant and parenting workers’ rights (A Better Balance): https://babygate.abetterbalance.org

Fair Museum Jobs: https://fairmuseumjobs.wordpress.com/2018/08/04/the-journey-begins/

Podcast: Museopunks, Episode 35: Salary Transparency in Art Museums: https://www.aam-us.org/2019/05/22/museopunks-episode-35/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14_cn3afoas7NhKvHWaFKqQGkaZS5rvL6DFxzGqXQa6o/htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true

https://www.artsy.net/news/artsy-editorial-online-spreadsheet-revealed-museum-workers-salaries

www.artnews.com/2019/05/31/google-spreadsheet-museum-workers-disclose-salaries/

https://news.artnet.com/market/museum-employees-salary-google-doc-1561372

Recap: The 100th Annual New England Museum Association Conference

It has been a long time since I talked about my experience and experienced the New England Museum Association (NEMA) conference. After a few years of not being able to attend the conference, I chose to attend the 100th annual NEMA conference. As always, I had a positive learning experience as well as reunited with a number of colleagues I have met at previous conferences and met with new conference participants. It was located at the Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center in Stamford, Connecticut, and the theme of the conference was Museums on the Move which explored how museums have evolved since the very first NEMA conference and how they are positioning themselves for success in the century ahead.

A few days before the conference began, NEMA conference attendants were made aware of the labor situation at the Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center in which hotel workers were protesting unfair wages. While NEMA considered moving the conference to another location, NEMA decided that it was not practical considering the size of the NEMA conference and the relatively short time frame before the conference; the full NEMA statement can be found here: https://nemanet.org/conference-events/conference/2018-nema-conference/hotel/. There have been some participants that decided to not attend the conference or decided to not hold sessions in the hotel as a result, and as a museum community we supported their decisions. During the keynote session, NEMA Executive Director Dan Yaeger dedicated time to talk about the labor situation at the hotel and a couple of staff members from the hotel spoke to us about what the work conditions were like at the hotel. Throughout our conference experience, discussions about the labor situation emphasized the importance of recognizing one another as hard workers who should and deserve to do and see changes made in our fields.

Also during the NEMA session, we heard more about the 100-yearhistory of NEMA and the NEMA conference. They introduced a pop-up exhibit which displayed a timeline of NEMA’s history and allowed conference participants to add their own museum’s history to the timeline using Post-Its, markers, and dry erase boards. What was also added to the exhibit was the wishes for NEMA and the museum field inside boxes that were lifted by the NEMA staff and keynote session presenters in front of the whole conference.

@Steward2Lindsey: Whoa! #nema2018 https://twitter.com/Steward2Lindsey/status/1060223671619514369

Each of the sessions I selected to attend during the week were both for my personal interest and also to gather information for the Long Island Explorium and the Three Village Historical Society. On the first day, I attended a session called The STEAM Dream Team in which I learned how collaboration between institutions can create meaningful STEAM programming from educators at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the Connecticut Science Center; they discussed how an initial joint-school program evolved, and continues to evolve, into a multivalent partnership that benefits both institutions. Also, the session included a hands-on STEAM activity using shadows, light and colors. and practical tips for starting our own art/science collaboration. Then I attended a session called Continuing Education for Your Most Committed(and Creative) Life-Long Learners which considers experiences of long-serving volunteer educators from the standpoint of their interest in and capacity for new learning, in subject matter and pedagogical techniques; I learned about different tailored programs that can refresh docents’ intellectual lives, keeping them up to date and incorporate reflective, cyclical self-assessment and these developmental strategies can be applied to all subject areas. The last session I attended for the day was Power Dynamics and Workplace Culture: A Think Tank in which I participated in a discussion about how to help colleagues examine power dynamics and workplace culture in museums by sharing solutions and ideas for moving the field towards a more equitable and transparent future.

In the evening I attended the Opening ceremony at the Bruce Museum of Art and Science in Greenwich which was originally built in 1853 as a private home on a hill overlooking Greenwich Harbor, and the museum has emerged as one of the area’s premier institutions highlighting art, science, and natural history. I strolled through the permanent collection galleries featuring art from legendary Cos Cob Impressionists (including Childe Hassam, Emil Carlsen, Leonard and Mina Fonda Ochtman, and Elmer McRae among others), a spectacular mineral and natural history collection, and American material culture spanning the Colonial period to the present day. Also, I went into the giftshop to purchase a few items, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, and since I attended the ceremony I received a free book about the Bruce Museum’s collections.

The next day, I attendedthe session Beyond the School Visit:Museum and District Collaboration in which representatives from The AldrichMuseum and the Ridgefield Public Schools discussed their collaboration and howthey evolved school visits into “deep dive” programming resulting in district-wide, cross-disciplinary curriculum, learning opportunities for educators, school memberships, and experiences for students that align with their respective missions. We listened to museum management, district administrators, and a parent on how the collaboration evolved and how it impacts their institutions; afterwards we were engaged in an activity that was designed to inspired partnerships rooted in reciprocity, shared values, and innovation. The next session I went to was a session called How Visitor-Centered Are We? which was a follow up to the last year’s seminar discussion about truth in museums, and the discussion continued with examining the continuing shift to create more visitor-centered environments and what this means in the context of today’s society. This session also came with selected pre-readings in which we used to examine and share ideas and examples of inclusion, diversity and access, both physical and cultural, to help us understand how they shape, or should shape, our work today. The last session of the day I attended was called Finding Your Voice on Social Media which provided an overview of how Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can become powerful tools for our organizations and connect with a greater audience.

Since this was the lastday of the conference, I attended two sessions before the conference luncheonand annual meeting. The first session was called Re-Imagining the Future! Museums for Tomorrow in which I learned howthree institutions of art, culture, and science are transforming their facilities and programming for the 21st century and beyond. This had a panel discussion that explored three significant capital projects at the Barnum Museum, Bruce Museum, and Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, and they addressed mater planning and design, construction and interpretive planning. The last session was called Integrating Skill Building into Museum Programs for Children and Caregivers which had hands-on science activities introduced by science center and children’s museum staff that can be facilitated in a variety of museum settings; these activities can be used to look beyond the product or content goals and think about how children can practice important developmental and science process skills as they participate, and the presenters shared strategies for engaging caregivers in the process of their children’s learning and helping them recognize the skill development that is taking place.

At the conferenceluncheon and annual meeting we continued the celebration of NEMA’s 100thanniversary by recognizing winners of the 2018 NEMA Excellence Awards and commemorate the career of Larry Yerdon, NEMA’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Awardee. Yerdon, President & CEO of Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, has had a distinguished career in museums, an active supporter of NEMA its President, and has mentored countless museum professionals as they built their own careers in the field. During the lunch, conference participants heard about NEMA’s latest initiatives, then we helped elect the next NEMA board and officers during a brief annual meeting before heading home from the conference.

The conference experience is just as I remembered in terms of socializingwith former colleagues and new acquaintances. It meant a lot to me to be ableto participate in the 100th conference, and the additional momentsthat highlighted its 100 year history stood out to me; reading the timeline made me realize how much I did not know about NEMA and I am happy to have learned about this rich history. Meanwhile, the sessions themselves have not only been informative but presented fascinating information that I am happy to share with colleagues in New York (including colleagues at the Long Island Explorium and the Three Village Historical Society) and everyone in the museum online community reading this blog post.

If you would like to learn more about each session Idescribed above or have any questions, please contact me on social media or here: https://wp.me/P8J8yQ-4

How to Lead a Professional Development Program: Reflections of My Experience Presenting One on Gender Equity

Added to Medium, March 8, 2018

On Monday, March 5, 2018, I have had my first professional development program that I have presented for the field. The program was the Long Island Museum Association Roundtable, hosted by Preservation Long Island, called “Lessons from the Workplace: Women in the Museum”. I presented at this program with Anne Ackerson, who co-founded Gender Equity in Museums Movement in 2016. It was a wonderful experience, and I learned a lot from the process of arranging it to presenting the program.

This process began last year when I met with a then board member of the Long Island Museum Association (LIMA) at a previous Roundtable program to propose an idea for a future Roundtable program. Since I then recently joined Gender Equity in Museums Movement, I thought it would be a good idea to bring awareness of gender equity to my colleagues on Long Island. For the next few months, I discussed the idea with various LIMA board members and presidents and figure out when the roundtable should be scheduled.

After proposing this idea, I kept in contact with the then LIMA board member until he retired from the museum field. I continued the conversation with the remaining board members. A date was finally set for March 5th, 2018.

While having discussions with the LIMA board members, I informed the rest of the GEMM coalition that LIMA is interested in having a program about gender equity. Since I have not been involved with GEMM for very long and that it was the first presentation I have had since graduate school, I asked during one of the GEMM meetings if anyone is interested in coming down to Long Island to help with the presentation. Anne Ackerson volunteered to help with the presentation by collaborating together on the presentation and driving down to Long Island to co-present with me.

She and I determined that it would be best to edit an existing PowerPoint presentation so we would not necessarily need to re-invented the wheel. GEMM committee members have volunteered in the past to present at similar programs to promote the coalition and discuss gender equity issues.

Anne and I continued planning the roundtable meeting by talking with LIMA board members about logistics. For promotional materials, we were asked to send information about ourselves, the program, and about GEMM. Both of us emailed our biographies and the summary of the program we will present the day of the presentation.

Because I am also a LIMA member, I received the email newsletter that promoted our program. The LIMA board decided that the program will be presented at the organization Preservation Long Island in Cold Spring Harbor; located in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Preservation Long Island is a not-for-profit organization committed to working with Long Islanders to protect, preserve, and celebrate our cultural heritage through advocacy, education, and the stewardship of historic sites and collections. According to the email newsletter, our program would begin with check in and coffee at nine in the morning. Then our program would begin at nine-thirty, and would last until twelve thirty.

Since we had a PowerPoint presentation that typically are for shorter programs, Anne and I decided we would figure out how to fill the rest of the time. We decided it would be a good idea to see if there are museum professionals on Long Island who are willing to participate in a panel to answer questions from us and the audience. If we were not able to have panelists, we would fill the time with time dedicated to questions and answers from the audience and small group discussions.

Small group discussions would allow audience members to divide into small groups to answer questions we provided on handouts so after they discussed the answers to the questions they will write the answers down. A few of the questions that were on the sheet include:

“What does your board do to advance gender equity within your museum? What can or should it do?”
“How does your museum eliminate gender bias in board or volunteer recruitment, and in hiring staff?”
“How would a statement of organizational values be useful in addressing equity in your museum?”

After the small group discussions were finished, we would collect at least one handout from each group so that the responses will be used for future publications from the coalition on gender equity issues.

We were able to have museum professionals participate in the panel, and because of this we also decided to break down time dedicated to the presentation, panel, and small group discussions so we would be able to keep track of the time for the program.

Anne arranged to have panelists from organizations on Long Island to join the roundtable and participate in the discussion on gender equity. On the day of the program, we were able to have four female museum and former museum professionals to participate in the panel.

The first participant was Sarah Abruzzi who is an accomplished executive and fundraising professional with 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She served as Director of two museums and worked in all aspects of museum operations including education, collections management, volunteer coordination, fundraising, communications, and government relations. Now Abruzzi serves as Director of Major Gifts and Special Projects at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook.

Then the next participant was Barbara Applegate who is the director of the Steinberg Museum of Art at Long Island University where she developed and presented exhibitions, many of them were made in collaboration with other institutions, and oversaw the development of special websites based on the Museum’s collection. Recently, she oversaw construction for the museum at a new campus location.

Marianne Howard, the Grant Writer for Mercy Haven in Islip Terrace, is another panel participant. Howard was previously the executive director for the Smithtown Historical Society, and she has held leadership positions among both museums and social services agencies in both New York City and on Long Island. She now works for Mercy Haven in Islip Terrace which is a non-profit organization which provides temporary and permanent housing and supportive services to those in need across Long Island.

Last but not least, Tracy Pfaff participated in the program as one of the four panelists. She became the Director of the Northport Historical Society in 2016, and before that she worked in a for-profit fine arts gallery, and she has interned at museums in Peru and Wyoming. Pfaff is the incoming co-president of LIMA with Theresa Skvarla. Once we were able to determine who would be able to participate in the panel, Anne and I discussed the schedule for the day as well as what should be divided among the two of us.

We decided to have the PowerPoint presentation at the beginning of the program which would last about fifteen to twenty minutes. Our presentation in the beginning was our welcome to the program as well as an overview of gender equity issues. The presentation has fourteen slides, and we made the decision to split the slides between the both of us.

Then the panel discussion would last for about forty minutes. Each of the panelists had opportunities to select questions they would like to address, and therefore not every panelist has to respond to every question. Nine questions were developed but we kept in mind that we may not be able to get to all of the questions. A couple of examples of questions that were addressed to the panelists are:

“Share an example of gender bias or inequity that affected your career and what you did about it.”
“What would you like to see our professional associations do to address gender bias? Is there a role for funders to advance the conversation?”
“In looking across the museum sector, where do you see the greatest positive movement to address gender inequity (i.e., collections, workforce and hiring, exhibits, etc.)”

Anne and I also decided to divide the questions between us so each of us would be able to ask questions to the panelists. We also allocated time for audience members to ask the panelists questions related to gender equity and the museum field.

Then we allocated time for a break so audience members can spend their time doing such as checking email, and get more coffee and pastries. During our conversations, we also decided to include a role playing activity after break and before the small group discussions.

Role playing activities would allow volunteers from the audience to play roles we give each pair and they will act out a scenario related to gender equity. We would allow up to five minutes of role playing then open it up to the audience to see how the situation could be handled differently or what their impressions were about the scenario. Also, we decided to have four different scenarios prepared for the program but we will start with two scenarios then see how much time is available.

Once the role playing and small group discussions are completed, we would wrap up the program by asking the audience to share a little bit of what their groups discussed and thanked them for coming out to hear our presentation and participate in our discussion.

A few days before the program, Anne and I spoke on the phone to finalize details for the day. We both agreed that it is important that we should be flexible and play by ear how we should proceed with the program to make sure the program is on schedule and to make sure our panelists and audience members are comfortable.

On the day of, I arrived early to take a look at the space we would be presenting in. Anne and I decided to take a few chairs from the first row to allow the panelists to sit there during the panel discussion and allow them to move to the back during the PowerPoint presentation. Also, we set up the PowerPoint presentation and mingled with museum professionals who have arrived for the program.

There were about between twenty and thirty museum professionals who arrived for the program which is more than Anne and I were expecting. We were very happy with the turn out, and we were also happy that many of them engaged with us, the panelists, and with each other about gender equity. Many questions, comments, and concerns were brought to us and we were able to answer to as many of them as possible. The discussion among the small groups was especially lively and we were able to collect many worksheets so we are able to use these answers for future publications.

There were some technical difficulties such as the microphone feed occasionally turned on and the lighting of the presentation made it a little hard to see the PowerPoint. I knew that we cannot always plan for everything, but we were flexible enough to continue on with the program. For instance, instead of using the last slide to share the small groups discussion we turned off the computer since we already had the questions on the handouts we gave audience members.

Overall, we had a very positive response from the program participants. We received many thanks from individuals we spoke with throughout the program. Also, I received congratulations from my colleagues and former colleagues I knew who attended the program. We also had many of them sign up to receive more information about GEMM, and we sent them the March newsletter we just sent out to other GEMM followers.

I learned a lot from this experience, and I am very proud to have arranged the program, been in the process, and in the program.

A special shout out to Anne Ackerson who has been so helpful during the process, and I thank you again Anne for everything leading up to and during the program.

What has your experiences been like presenting in professional development programs? Is there any advice you would give other professionals who start planning their own professional development programs?

Response to Alliance Labs: 7 Factors That Drive Museum Wages Down

Added to Medium, March 1, 2018

This past week was Museum Advocacy Day 2018 hosted by the American Alliance of Museums where museum professionals went down to Washington D.C. and/or used social media to bring awareness of museums impact on the country to their state representatives, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. I came across this article from Alliance Labs posted last week, and I thought about these factors as examples of why we need more support from our government representatives to increase our funding to help museums function.

I also thought this article is a good edition to the leaving the museum field discussion. One of the top reasons museum professionals decided to leave the field because of the low wages museums offer. When we take a closer look at museum wages, and how they are influenced to be the way they are in recent years, we are able to find out how we can make a better case for increasing funding in our museums to better support our institutions and our professionals to our government officials.

Written by Michael Holland, “7 Factors That Drive Museum Wages Down” discusses how our museum wages are influenced to the state they are currently in nowadays. According to Holland, the factors that drove museum wages down are the way laws and policies are written; people on top making decisions that have museum professionals wear many hats or have a job that is multiple jobs in one; figuring out how to monetize museum professionals’ work; limited advancement opportunity; internal equity in the museum; spouses of museum professionals earning higher income helps supplement expenses; and there are many applicants applying for the few jobs that are available in the field.

After reading this article, I felt that based on my experience as a museum professional these factors make sense and that we should be better at having museum professionals earn reasonable wages. To start having museum professionals earn living wages, we should take a look at the factors that influence the wages. Holland discussed about government structure, law, and policy and how this is part of how museum wages are down. He revealed that,

Many museums are affiliated with governmental entities. Museums at state universities are staffed by people who are actually public employees (just like the football coaches, but without the exorbitant salaries). Sometimes this is helps employees (legislatively mandated cost-of-living pay increases), but the structural framework of employee classification can put some hard limits on salaries, making it difficult to change compensation significantly without also changing your title and job description. This means that even if the museum has success raising substantial funding from the private sector, they may not be allowed to spend it on their staff in the same ways that a private business can.

Contractor pay is not limited by job titles or classifications, and is instead a reflection of what the market will bear, and they charge what it takes to stay in business. Museums are paying what the work is actually worth, but they pay someone other than their own staff to do it. This allows administrators to follow the rules and stay within the compensation ranges dictated by governmental job classifications, since they’re technically spending the money on stuff (goods and services) instead of staff (their own personnel).

What stood out to me was when he stated “even if the museum has success raising substantial funding from the private sector, they may not be allowed to spend it on their staff in the same ways that a private business can.” To me, it means that museum professionals do not have the control they have to improve funding that supports wages if relying on one form of financial support. Museums do not rely on one source for financial support since there are a lot of resources needed to keep a museum running.

Another statement that stood out to me was museums paying what the work is worth to someone other than their own staff so administrators can follow rules and stay within compensation ranges dictated by governmental job classifications. A lot of times we do need to bring in outside help to keep the museum running, however it should depend on what we need and if any of the staff can do it before bringing in someone else on a project. The main point of this factor I believe is that we need to have this wages discussion with our government, and Museum Advocacy Day is a great example of how we can talk with our representatives about the importance of museums as well as the museum professionals who dedicate so much time to their museums.

Holland also discussed about corporate culture being absorbed in the museum culture. He stated in the post that,

Like many companies, museums these days are doing more with fewer people, and have surprisingly small staffs who wear a lot of hats. With fewer people on staff, anything beyond daily operations can exceed in-house capacity, and when it does, work gets contracted out. This arrangement allows the company—sorry, the museum—to trim operating expenses and then spend on specific projects only as needed, rather than carry the ongoing expense of a larger staff. I haven’t seen the math to allow me to say for certain whether or not this ultimately saves the museum money in the long run, but it might look favorable on paper during the tenure of any given administration.

Wearing many hats is a very familiar concept for museum professionals, especially myself. I have not also seen the math on whether the way museum staff run the museum saves the museum money in the long run, and while it might look favorable on paper those who suffer from how museums are run these days the most are the staff.

In our field, there is so much discussion about how we need to make sure we take care of ourselves. For instance, Seema Rao wrote a blog post called “Productivity: In Defense of Breaks” which is all about the importance of taking breaks to be productive. However, it is a challenge to do so when there is so much to do and not much time to get the self-care time we need to prevent ourselves from burning out too quickly. Many museum professionals end up working on multiple projects simultaneously to the point that they are too tired to be productive, and they work longer hours to attempt to complete projects. Since the wages are low, museum professionals are more likely to work longer hours to attempt to pay for expenses. We need to incorporate self-care into how we run our museums by finding a way to increase wages and bring in more staff assistance while we keep our museums running.

Measuring employee value is a challenging situation to discuss and figure out because it can easily be undervalued when finding ways to save museum expenses to keep a museum running. Holland discusses measuring employee value as a factor that drove museum wages down by pointing out how the corporate world measures employee value:

One area where the museum sector appears to differ from the corporate world is the difficulty of measuring the value of any given employee to the organization. In business, a company can estimate with sometimes remarkable accuracy the return on investment (ROI) of hiring an employee, and quarterly earnings reports can validate those estimates. But most museums are not for-profit entities. They don’t have shareholders to please, or CEOs with their pay directly linked to the performance of the company by stock options.

If our museums insist on measuring our staff’s value, there has to be different standards and/or a different system that reflects our impact on the museum. While thinking corporately will to an extent help bring in money for museums, we also need to think like museums and give museum staff the value that they have earned and deserved.

Another set of situations that Holland has also listed as factors are limited advancement opportunity and understanding internal equity. There are not many opportunities for museum professionals to climb the ladder in their careers despite the fact that their positions in the field are essential for running the museum. Museum professionals, according to Holland, who manage to stick around long enough are likely to advance somewhat by becoming designated managers of other co-workers. There are museum professionals that have some advancement not clearly defined since there may be a title change and/or additional responsibilities added to the responsibilities they were originally hired for, and therefore priorities are mixed.

The fifth factor Holland mentioned, understanding internal equity, detailed that trying to fairly pay staff equal wages could also be driving museum wages down. Museums attempt to avoid conflict between staff members by giving all staff members equal wages. However, as Holland has stated:

Internal equity is a valid concern, but our understanding of equity might be incomplete if we’re basing it solely on salary. Broader economic trajectories over time can have enormous impact on whether or not a salary is truly sufficient. Nowhere has this impact been stronger than in housing costs. A staff member who bought their house for $40,000 in 1988 might be able to get by today on $34,000/year. But someone hired today in the same city where a house now costs $500,000 and a one-bedroom apartment goes for $1,600/month will not, unless they bring a pile of home equity with them (hint- this isn’t a thing for pretty much anyone under 30, and many well beyond that age). If the new hire is younger and has typical student loan debt, they’ll be even worse off. These two employees may have the same salary, but their economic realities are not even close to comparable. Perhaps a better definition of internal equity would be based on “effective income”, defined as how much money each of our two comparable staff members has remaining each month after their housing costs are paid.

This is a common concern within our museum community. I myself have worked with co-workers that are all different in age and circumstances. They all stress the situations they are in, and when we think about fairness as giving equal wages then we are not really being fair to all circumstances in which we are in to help support ourselves and our financial responsibilities. We need to figure out how to make wages more effective for all of our staff.

Other factors Holland discussed are spousal income subsidy and many applicants for few jobs. Both of these factors, as well as the previous factors, are familiar to me and I always have to keep this in mind when I think about my future. In a previous blog post on how to balance work and family, I mentioned that I am getting married and maintaining the balance is essential especially for me and other museum professionals. When I read the statement “With a steady supply of people who would love to work in a museum don’t have to worry so much about their earnings, museums may not have much incentive to raise salaries”, both Holland and myself have thought about the extent museums depend on hiring individuals with spouses and supplemental income. Like every individual museum professional has varying financial circumstances, married couples have varying financial circumstances that may very well need to depend on both salaries to fulfill their responsibilities.

I have also seen too often is having so many applicants apply for few jobs. As a museum professional who has applied to many times in the field, it felt discouraging for me when there are few jobs available and yet I have gained so much knowledge of the field that would be helpful for museums. While I have figured out a way or two to help me stay in the field I am passionate about, many museum professionals have to leave the field to figure out another way to fulfill financial obligations. Museums should acknowledge museum professionals who bring in the skills and knowledge they need to fulfill their organizations’ missions.

Many of these factors and ways we need to make the changes we should essentially do depend on the influences from the top. If we are able to talk with our government representatives to make changes and support our museums, we should do so and these changes will lead to museum professionals having equitable wages going forward in the museum field.

Have you read Holland’s post on Alliance Labs? What did you think of Holland’s “7 Factors That Drive Museum Wages Down”? Are there other factors we need to acknowledge and discuss?

Resources:
http://labs.aam-us.org/blog/7-factors-that-drive-museum-wages-down/
https://medium.com/@artlust/productivity-in-defense-of-breaks-a2e29bd7886

“Leaving the Museum Field”: A Reaction to the Alliance Labs Blog

Added to Medium, September 27, 2017

This week I am posting earlier than usual because I have a family event this weekend I am preparing for and I also want to address a blog post from Alliance Labs, the American Alliance of Museums blog, discussing the topic of why many museum professionals are leaving the field.

It is an important topic because there are so many people considering leaving the field for various reasons, and we need to do something to work towards making our field more inclusive and rewarding for museum professionals to make it more appealing to stay. After reading this blog and similar articles, the experience made me think about my own reasoning for staying in the field as well as my resolve to be a part of making this museum field a more encouraging field to continue working in.

Sarah Erdman, Claudia Ocello, Dawn Estabrooks Salerno, and Marieke Van Damme last week talked about this topic in their blog “Leaving the Museum Field”. These four museum professionals got together after the 2016 AAM conference in DC to try to find out the reasons museum workers leave the field. In this blog, they presented their findings based on the over one thousand individuals who participated in a survey with open-ended questions. One of the questions that were placed in the survey include,
Why we stay. Hands down, we stay because of the work we do. Unsurprisingly, for those of us who have made lifelong friends at our museums, we also stay because of our coworkers. The close 3rd and 4th reasons for staying are “Pay/Benefits” and “No Other Option.” The least popular response was “Feel Lucky to Have a Job” (1%) and the write-in “I love dinosaurs.”’

I have mentioned in previous blog posts my reasons for joining the museum field, and for me my reasons are definitely for the love of the work I do as well as my passion for museums. In my very first blog post, “Writing about Museum Education”, I mentioned my family trips to museums inspired my passion for and my career in museum education. I also pointed out that

“Education for me has always been my favorite part of life, and while at times it was challenging for me field trips especially to museums have given me a way to understand the lessons I learned in the classroom.”

I still believe museums can illuminate an individual’s educational experience, and by continuing in the museum field I hope to make an impact on the public. It is a challenge to accomplish this when there are things that prevent me from fulfilling this goal.

As I was graduating with my Master’s degree in Public History, there were limited opportunities to get a position in the field that would meet the typical needs. Similar limitations were addressed in the blog post as reasons museum professionals are leaving. According to the blog,

Reasons why museum workers leave the field. We had about 300 answers to this open-ended question. We grouped them by theme and found the following reasons (in order of frequency of response):
1. Pay was too low
2. Other
3. Poor work/life balance
4. Insufficient benefits
5. [tie] Workload/Better positions
6. Schedule didn’t work.”

There was a point that I thought I should consider leaving. However, I thought about my experiences I have had at this point, and knew there is so much I still have to offer to the field. I began working at the Maritime Explorium, a children’s science museum, which is a little different from my previous experiences but is just as passionate about education for children and the public as I am. Also, I began work on this blog sharing my experiences in the museum field as well as my impressions on current trends in the field. I also became involved in museum organizations, including the Gender Equity in Museums Movement, to help other museums and museum professionals make a difference in the community and within their institutions.

In a way, I adapted my career in the museum education field and I found a way to stay in the field. I continue to work hard to stay in the field. This blog pointed out a number of ways to help museum professionals stay; it stated,

How can we prevent museum workers from leaving? Again, increasing pay was at the top of the list, but respondents also suggested many free or cost-effective ways to create better working environments, like:
Create mentoring opportunities
Respect each other – break departmental silos
Make room for new ideas.”

By following the previously mentioned suggestions, we as museum professionals will be able to work towards making museums a better workforce to stay in so we would be able to work within our communities better.

While I continue to face challenges in attaining these needs, I am thankful for every opportunity that I have experienced in the field. Each experience has led me to getting to know various people in the field and to learning lessons in the field that help me grow as a museum professional.

The key to making this field a more appealing field to stay in is to keep working towards making a change in our museums and the museum community. It would not be realistic to expect the museum field to be better overnight. We need to keep talking about this situation, and be able to learn from this experience to move forward. I included the original link to the blog in my resources section for all museum professionals to refer to, and it also includes a variety of resources related to this topic to refer to.

Please leave your responses about this topic on my blog and/or the Alliance Labs blog, and continue this discussion among your colleagues.
Resources:
http://labs.aam-us.org/blog/leaving-the-museum-field/
https://www.genderequitymuseums.com/

 

Reaction to Museum Magazine: Engaging Visitors

Added to Medium, July 13, 2017

I decided for this week I am react to something different than I have reacted to in the past. As an American Alliance of Museums member, I receive regular subscriptions to Museum magazine published by AAM, and I thought I would give you my thoughts on the most recent edition of the magazine. The July/August edition of Museum magazine compiled many articles about engaging visitors in the museum. In addition to my thoughts on the Museum magazine, I am also going to briefly talk about other resources I have read on visitor engagement as well as my experience on engaging visitors to the museums I have worked for.

This edition of Museum magazine has the regular pieces from the departments. In the beginning of the magazine, a letter from the President and CEO Laura L. Lott discusses what is in this issue and additional information available to AAM members to sharpen the institutions’ focus on audience engagement through professional networks such as the Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE) and the Public Relations and Marketing Network (PRAM). There is a “By the Numbers” section that shares brief statistics of how museums impact the nation; this edition focuses on visitor statistics for museums. One of the statistics shared in the magazine was in 2016 forty-eight percent of those who participated in the U.S. leisure attraction visitors survey, published in the Voice of the Visitor: 2017 Annual Outlook on the Attractions Industry, visited museums. The magazine also shared what is new going on at AAM’s member museums, an article providing information about creating collaborative community-based programming, and an article on museum educators sharing ideas with Chinese counterparts as part of the strategic plan to connect U.S. museums with international organizations.

After the regular pieces, Museum has five features related to the magazine’s main topic.

Greg Stevens wrote about the 25th anniversary of AAM’s 1992 publication Excellence and Equity: Education and the Public Dimension of Museums called “Excellence and Equity at 25: Then, Now, Next” which includes an interview with the individuals who wrote the original publication discussing the document then, how it has changed to reflect what is happening in the museum now, and what they think the document will be used in the future. Everyone who was interviewed for the article agreed that the effort to address diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (referred to as DEAI in the article) in the museum field is still ongoing especially since as one of the contributors put it there will never be an endpoint where they will sit back and congratulate themselves on finally being inclusive. I thought that this last point shows there is always room to improve our inclusive programming in museums.

Another article is “Converting Family into Fans”, written by Bob Harlow and Cindy Cox Roman, which is about how the Contemporary Jewish Museum changed its focus and increased visitation to this museum. Their article shared various strategies they had used when they put together strategy and tasks including designing major exhibitions designed to attract families and new programs and a welcoming environment, reduce financial barriers, and develop community partnerships. Since I began my career as a museum educator, and when I started working at the Maritime Explorium, I have seen different ways of engaging families with museum programs and activities. I have participated in engaging families during programs such as family concerts, First Night Hartford, Family Fun Day, and the Mini Maker Faire. These programs have taught me how engaging families with museums are beneficial for not only museums but for families looking for ways to spend time together.

Sara Lowenburg, Marissa Clark, and Greg Owen discuss creating programs uniquely suited to build confidence, comfort, and community for veterans in the third article called “Serving Those Who Served: Engaging Veterans at Museums”. The article includes case studies from the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington on how their programming attracts veterans. Lowenburg, Clark, and Owen proved in the article that veterans can benefit from programs and activities museums can offer.

The article “Think of a Time When You Didn’t Feel Welcome”, written by Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Michael Lesperance, and Renae Youngs, discuss how museums can align and apply the LGBTQ Welcoming Guidelines in their internal and external museum operations. I appreciate that this article is included in this edition since our mission for visitor-centered museums is to allow all visitors to not only engage with the museum programs and exhibits but to make sure all visitors are able to express themselves as well as feel comfortable within the museum while participating in its programming and interacting with the exhibits. It makes me sad that at different points people did not feel welcome in the museum, and by using the guidelines Lesperance and Youngs discuss in their article this shows that we are making sure that all visitors and staff members can feel they have a space to go to no matter what sexual orientation and gender they identify as.

The last feature “A Visitors’ Perspective on Visitor Engagement” by Max A. van Balgooy discussed how understanding visitors’ needs will greatly inform museums work in visitor engagement. I appreciate that this article was included in this edition because to understand what the visitors want we should learn from the visitors themselves.

Visitor engagement as a topic is not new but it is worth discussing because our audiences wants and needs change as the community and nation values change. I have discussed this topic previously with my book review on the Visitor-Centered Museum by Peter Samis and Mimi Michaelson that introduces various methods of creating visitor centered programs (the link to the original blog post can be found here: https://medium.com/@steward.lindsey/visitor-centered-museums-how-we-can-appeal-to-our-audiences-6a5ebc33853). MuseumNext, an organization that joins museums from across the world together to discuss what happens next for the museum field, posted a brief article on their website called “Visitor Centered Museums in Practice and its Future” covering a discussion Lath Carlson and Seema Rao (MuseumNextUSA speakers with 30 years’ experience in the museum field) had about what museums are doing now to be more visitor-centered and what directions the visitor-centered museums may be like going forward. The discussion can be found here: https://www.museumnext.com/2017/07/visitor-centered-museums-practice-future/. We continue to work towards an improved visitor experience for all visitors who come to our museums.

Have you read this edition of Museum? If you have, what are your thoughts? For those who have visited museums, whether you work for one or not, can you describe your experiences at the most recent museum you have visited? What did you take away from those experiences?

Gender Equity in Museums: An Important Issue that Should Be Addressed

Originally posted on Medium, March 30, 2017.

During the past month, I have discussed what I have learned about equity and inclusion in the museum field. Equity and Inclusion are both issues that must be discussed in each industry of the United States not just in museums. The experiences I have has this month during professional development programs showed me more evidence of how we all need to find out what to do to have a more diverse museum community. During my experiences as a museum educator, I have met so many incredible people of various backgrounds in the field and I am thankful for the opportunity to work with and connect with them. Museums create opportunities for people to learn and identify with the human issues their exhibits and programs present. Last week I started a discussion on gender represented in the museum; I specifically talked about women in the historical narrative of museums and how each museum has their own narratives of how the women were represented in their communities. Women are not only represented as historical figures in museum exhibits but there are women including myself who are museum professionals. This week I attended one of the New England Museum Association’s webinars Lunch with NEMA.

The Lunch with NEMA program is called The Gender Equity in Museums Movement which is named for the GEMM movement founded by Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin. This program was led by Ackerson and Baldwin as well as GEMM committee members Scarlett Hoey (NEMA YEP PAG co-chair and Program Manager at ArtsWorcester) and Matthew Dickey (Director of Development at Gore Place). Each of the presenters addressed six myths about gender equity and debunked these myths.

The first myth, for instance, was feminism is all about women being in power; feminism is really all about equity and equality or equal opportunity for all. The second myth was the contributions of women in museums are recognized. Not many people realize that there were so many early generations of women pioneers in museums such as Florence Higginbotham who was the founder of the Museum of African American History in Boston and the first Director of Gore place was a woman named Mrs. Patterson.

The third myth is the salary disparity between male and female museum workers is a thing of the past; unfortunately, women make 10,000 less than their male counterparts annually. The fourth myth was there are so many in museum field that gender equity can happen on its own; while it is true that there are a lot of women in the field but there is still enough evidence that gender equity needs to be addressed by staff. The fifth myth is that it’s not about gender anymore. The sixth myth is that change only happens from the top down; the presenters argued that employees at all levels can inspire change and persist with other managers, and it is important to know that your voice matters.

Then the presenters shared statistics to show why the numbers matter when discussing equity. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that in 2016 there are 364,000 workers in the museum field and of that number, forty-one percent were women. Also, for every dollar a man makes, women now make 79.6 cents; women art museum directors earned 75 cents in 2016 in institutions with budgets greater than $15 million and earnings almost equal in institutions less than $15 million.

According to the presenters and the survey webinar participants took, more museums are responding to equity across the board and the presenters discuss how museums are working towards equity. To work towards equity, museums should incorporate equity in the organization’s culture. A museum should have self-awareness of the issues as well as institutional commitment at the CEO and board levels. Even though implementing equity can be challenging, it is important to have equity as part of the institutional values of museums. Another way museums can work towards equity is to raise visibility of women in museums.

They also pointed out that staff can lead toward change but the board must recognize and practice equity by putting it in the policies. The presenters provided resources on policies and practices; there are equity and diversity policies resources provided by the American Historical Association and the American Library Association. In addition, there is also an AAM LGBTQ guide museums could use on equity. It is stressed that museums should have an HR policy and staff should know what their HR policy is for their museum. Another resource they provide is ASTC Diversity tool kit: (http://www.astc.org/resource/equity/ASTC_DiversityEquityToolkit_Leadership.pdf )

Not only did they discuss resources but they also stress that the gender equity agenda should be enforced early. For instance, professional associations need to form programs that educate individuals about equity. Also, museum studies programs should also incorporate lessons in equity and educate students about salary negotiations before they enter the workforce. The lessons need to share what the Gender Equity Museums Movement is which raises awareness in gender equity and explains what they want to accomplish. To learn more about the organization, you can find information here: http://www.genderequitymuseums.com.

The most important lesson I learned, and what we all should take away from this program, is that gender equity is not a woman’s issue it is a human issue. We need to recognize that equity is for all of us, and we need to find out how we can bring more awareness to equity.

What is your organization doing to enforce equity in your workspace? There have been a lot of programs lately that discuss equity in museums, what do you think inspired these programs to discussed now?

Equity and Inclusion in Museums

Originally posted on Medium, March 10, 2017.

This week’s blog post is both a continuation of the previous blog post “How to use Food to Create Relevance in Museums” and a discussion on equity and inclusion in museums. The topic was inspired by a New York City Museum Educators Roundtable (NYCMER) event Lessons in Equity from Culturally-Specific Institutions: Beyond the “Target Program” that took place this week at the Museum of Chinese in America. This panel began with a gallery exploration of the exhibit “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America” and snacks and refreshments were provided based on the exhibit.

The panel was moderated by Stephanie LaFroscia who is the Arts Program Specialist at New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Each of the panelists who spoke at the program represent culturally-specific institutions and discuss their experiences and challenges of inclusivity and equity. The panelists were Nancy Yao Maasbach (President of the Museum of Chinese in America), Shanta Lawson (Education Director at the Studio Museum in Harlem), Joy Liu (Education Specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York), and Isra el-Bishar (Curator of Education and Public Programming at the Arab American National Museum). While I was listening to the panelists’ experiences, I also thought about how equity and inclusion is discussed in the general museum field. Last month’s Museum magazine issue was dedicated to the topic of equity and inclusion. Also, I recently received my issue of the Journal of Museum Education which includes articles based on the issue’s title “Race, Dialogue and Inclusion” (Volume 42.1, March 2017). By attending this program, I learned more about how to create an environment that is more inclusive as a museum professional.

The program took place at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) located on Centre Street in New York City. The Museum of Chinese in America is an organization that is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States; the museum also promotes dialogue and understanding among people of all cultural backgrounds. The central part of this museum’s mission is the goal to make Chinese American history accessible to the general public. Also, the museum not only promotes the understanding and appreciation of Chinese American arts, culture, and history but it also informs, educates and engages visitors of Chinese American history in the making.

Museum of Chinese in America

After I walked from the subway to the Museum of Chinese in America, I had the opportunity to try the food related to the museum’s exhibit “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America” before the program began. The snacks were provided by Nom Wah Tea Parlor which is a vintage dim sum parlor that dates back to 1920. There was a sample of various dim sum featured on their menu as well as sparkling water and lemonade for beverages.

I had the opportunity to try vegetarian dumplings, scallion pancake, chicken siu mai, and fried sesame ball with lotus paste. Vegetarian dumplings have mixed vegetables and mushrooms in homemade tapioca starch wrappers. Scallion pancakes are made with wheat flour batter mixed with scallions and then the batter is pan-fried. Chicken Siu Mai is minced chicken in wonton wrappers. The fried sesame ball with lotus paste is lotus paste (sweet and smooth filled paste made from dried lotus seeds) that is wrapped in rice flour dough and then wrapped in sesame seeds. Each of these were delicious, and it is different from other Chinese dishes I have had during my lifetime so far. By trying dim sum, I was able to see what authentic Chinese food tastes like and I had the opportunity to appreciate the culture even more than I had before this experience.

Once I finished eating dim sum, I explored the exhibit “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America” which opened on October 6, 2016 and will now close on September 10, 2017 due to its popularity. The exhibit had a large table and chairs around it in the middle of the room which featured plates, utensils, place settings, and ceramic sculptures; this exhibit told stories of thirty-three Chinese and Asian-American chefs. Also, this exhibit weaves together various complex stories through video installations featuring pioneering chefs including Cecilia Chiang, Ken Hom, Anita Lo, Ming Tsai, and Martin Yan; new restaurateurs like Peter Chang, Vivian Ku, and Danny Bowien; and persevering home cooks like Biying Ni, Yvette Lee and Ho-chin Yang.

This video as well as the large table in the center of the room create a tapestry of various stories that tell their experiences with immigration as well as sharing food memories, favorite dishes and cooking inspirations that define the culinary and personal identities of these chefs. The name of this exhibit comes from an expression that not only refers to the balance of flavors that define Chinese cooking but it also refers to the ups and downs of life. As I read each personal story and explored the rest of the museum’s exhibits, I began to understand the Chinese American experience and I was able to see the relevance of how important it is to continue telling stories of and to appreciate various cultures in our nation.

The program began, after spending time in the exhibit, with each representative from culturally-specific institutions describing their institutions’ missions. For instance, Shanta Lawson of the Studio Museum in Harlem stated that the museum, founded in 1968/1969, was created in response to the lack of diversity in the community and fifty years later there is still a long way to go, and was created to support black artists and art education. Nancy Yao Maasbach of the Museum of Chinese in America discussed the Journey Wall which features Chinese immigrant families and talk about how each of the items in their collection (which is about 65,000 items) have value to the museum and the community. Also, Isra el-Bishar of the Arab American National Museum stated that the museum has been around for twelve years and continues to fulfill its mission by finding ways to represent individuals’ narratives from each Arab country. At the conclusion of the program, after answering various questions from the moderator and people in the audience, each panelist discussed how their respective organizations move forward towards inclusion and equity.

Lawson, for instance, stated that the Studio Museum in Harlem staff plan to continue challenging themselves on how to push forward and challenge norms to see what works and what doesn’t work. Joy Liu of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York discussed the opportunity to include other indigenous peoples’ stories (Latin American indigenous groups), integrate indigenous history, and answer the question what does it mean to be indigenous today? Liu also stated that it is important to emphasize that indigenous peoples’ stories continue to this day, and make sure the truth about indigenous people (indigenous people are the majority in North America for example) is told. Also, Maasbach stated that the museum will use technology more to help visitors understand stories in a way people of different cultures can understand what they did not experience (such as the chair to simulate interrogation of twelve-year-old that was separated from family on Angel Island, California). This program made me think more about equity and inclusion, especially how it is discussed by organizations such as the American Alliance of Museums and the Museum Education Roundtable.

The American Alliance of Museums publishes Museum a magazine that publishes articles written by museum professionals and by writers who write about topics that help museum professionals run their museums. As an AAM member, I have the opportunity to subscribe to this magazine. The previous issue, January/February 2017, main topic was “Equity in the Museum Workforce”, and each article was written with this topic in mind. For instance, there is an article written by Elizabeth Merritt (founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums [CFM]) called “Taking the Bias out of Hiring” which discusses identifying and eliminating unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Another article is “We’re Not That Hard to Find: Hiring Diverse Museum Staff” by Joy Bailey-Bryant (who is responsible for the U.S. operations of Lord Cultural Resources) which presents a set of guidelines to implement change in the museum and identify a pipeline of diverse employees.

Museum Education Roundtable’s publication Journal of Museum Education presents articles written by museum education professionals and museum professionals to discuss current trends and practices in museum education. This month’s journal is on the topic of “Race, Dialogue, and Inclusion: A Museum on the National Stage” and it is broken down into a few sections. The Journal starts with an editorial from Cynthia Robinson, editor-in-chief, and then moves on to an article from guest editors and additional articles from various museum professionals; the Journal also includes a section Tools, Frameworks, and Case Studies which provide exercised examples of how the topic can be addressed in the museum, and What the Research Says which is a research study. I will also be participating in AAM’s discussion on Race, Dialogue and Inclusion based on this month’s Journal of Museum Education so I will discuss this one in further detail. I leave you with these questions to ponder on:

What is your museum/organization doing to move forward on equity and inclusion? Have you read any of the above articles and journal I referred to? If so, what do you think?