Have you ever walked through a museum and wondered, “How did this stuff get here?” The world has so much art and so many artifacts. Who decides how much of it goes into the museum? Who decides which items are displayed? What is on the little cards by each exhibit and who writes them? Museum curators are the people who help to decide what items you see when you walk into a museum and what you will learn. It sounds like they have a lot of power, but there is a lot of work too. The following activities will give you a chance to see a little bit of what life is like as a museum curator and educator. If you are the kind of person who is curious about your world and likes to share the things you learn with others, this may be the job for you!
Have you ever walked through a museum and wondered, “How did this stuff get here?” The world has so much art and so many artifacts. Who decides how much of it goes into the museum? Who decides which items are displayed? What is on the little cards by each exhibit and who writes them? Museum curators are people who help to decide what items you see when you walk into a museum and what you will learn. It sounds like they have a lot of power, but there is a lot of work, too. The following activities will give you a chance to see a little bit of what life is like as a museum curator and educator. If you are curious about the world and like to share the things you learn with others, this may be the job for you!
Museum curators and others who work within the museum field fall under the Education and Arts career clusters depending on the roles and responsibilities of their jobs. Some of these include planning and organizing collections that will be on display, selecting and designing themes of the exhibits, and planning and conducting instructional, research, and planning activities that people can see and experience. These roles and responsibilities vary greatly because they include a variety of information. This information can be categorized into one of five basic types of museums, general, natural history and natural science, science and technology, history, and art.
As a museum outreach or education coordinator, you have the opportunity to select exhibits in the museum to share with students when they come to visit. These students can range from preschool age all the way up to college students which can make day-to-day activities very interesting! Some skills you will need to have in order to be successful at this job are:
Communicate clearly through speaking
Listen and understand what people are saying
Listening without interrupting
Asking good questions
Understanding people's reactions
Looking for ways to help people
Before you can become a museum outreach or education coordinator, you will first need to complete at least a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s is preferred. Having basic knowledge in the following areas will help as you navigate your day-to-day job:
Arts and Humanities
Archeology - the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains.
Math and Science
Sociology - the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.
Anthropology - the study of human societies and cultures and their development.
The salary for a museum outreach or education coordinator varies depending on where you go, but the average is around $55,000 a year.
Computer or tablet
Arti-Fact Overview handout (attached)
Bento Box Template handout (attached)
Types of Museums Article handout (attached)
Museum Choice Board handout (attached)
Concept Mapping Cards handout (attached)
Pencil or pen
What to Do
Tour a virtual museum.
Get an idea of what different museums are like and which ones you think are the most interesting.
Once you have completed your virtual tour, design a Bento Box to share what you have learned and found most interesting about your favorite museum.
Design your own exhibit.
Pick which artifacts you would include in your museum. Think about how they go together. What sort of museum do they belong in?
Find out what it is like to work and teach in a museum.
Learn about how museums work to bring history to life.
Use your artifacts to tell a story.
Activity #1: Virtual Museum Tour
Learn about the different types of museums you can work in! Review the Arti-Fact Overview handout to examine aspects of work in a museum. Use the Museum Choice Board to take a virtual tour through general, natural history and natural science, science and technology, history, and art museums. On these tours, you will learn about a variety of collections and see some of the different collections you can work with.
Computer or Tablet
Museum Choice Board (handout)
Different Types of Museums article (handout)
Bento Box Template (handout)
Take a tour through the Museum Choice Board.
Complete at least one virtual tour from each of the 5 types of museums by clicking on the blue title link of the museum you’d like to visit.
Take some time to read the descriptions about the different types of museums in the Types of Museums handout.
Of the five (5) virtual tours that you took, choose your favorite tour to complete a Bento Box using the template (handout). You may also choose to sketch it out on a blank piece of paper or use a digital tool such as Google Slides, ThingLink, or Pictochart.
In the 5 boxes provided, draw images or objects that stuck out to you as important or interesting from your virtual tour.
Underneath each box, provide an explanation of the image, what it is, and your reasons for choosing to include it.
Activity #2: Concept Card Mapping
In this activity you will be the curator of your own museum. You will use the artifact cards in the Concept Card Mapping handout to design your own exhibit. The exhibit only has room for 5 pieces, but you have 10 artifact cards. It is your job to select 5 cards that are grouped in a way that will make sense and interest the visitors who come to your museum. After you select your cards, write a script that your museum tour guides could use to show off your exhibit to guests.
Artifact Cards (attachment)
Pencil or pen
Cut out the artifact cards.
Select which 5 cards you would put together in a museum exhibit.
Use the space on page 2 of the Concept Card Mapping handout to write out a script for your museum tour guides so that they can share your exhibit with guests.
Activity #3: Career Talk
There are many educational careers available in lots of different types of museums. For this activity, you will hear from a museum educator who has worked in parks and historical homes share history with visitors from around the world.
As you watch the video, think about how this work is different from the other museum careers you have explored so far. After you have watched the video, Complete the Squiggle drawing to show what museum education means to you. This drawing is started for you, but you can turn it into anything you want it to be.
Computer or Tablet
K20 Museum Professional video
Pen or pencil
Click on the link to watch the video: Museum Professional Daniel Schwartz - Zoom Into Your Career.
Think about what you have learned from Dan Schwartz’s experiences as a museum educator.
Complete the Squiggle drawing to show what museum education means to you.
Below your drawing write your own definition of museum education.
All of the sources that were linked throughout the activity are listed below. Providing a list of sources allows us to give credit for the work someone else made.
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