An Update from Our Founder
March 29, 2021
Since we launched MuseumExpert.org six months ago, our objective has remained the same: supporting museum staffers out of work because of COVID-19 and contributing to the general efforts to rethink and rebuild the field. The initial plan was to help staffers out of work by connecting them with employers who may have job opportunities. Because this was an initiative of a group of volunteers, it combined an enormous amount of enthusiasm with the discovery of obstacles. At times, it felt like we were building a plane while simultaneously learning how to fly it. However, we did not turn on the autopilot, we systematically turned to our “Expert Members” to listen to what they had to say and what they felt they needed. We learned that museum staffers out of work wanted to feel they were not alone and were looking for a place to connect with each other. We also learned that they wanted help in their search for a job. We acted by organizing a series of webinars providing expert advice about existing resources online, and providing practical, employment search support on things like resume and cover letter writing, and interview prep. And because we feel that there is still a demand for that we will continue to provide more of that for our members.
Continued interactions with our partners and members helped us to identify additional issues and concerns of the pandemic employment landscape. Do we know enough about the real impact of COVID-19 and do we have an understanding of what is yet to come? What will the new museum environment be in five months or a year? Will it be enough to be well prepared for an interview or have a perfect cover letter? How can our experts be prepared for an ever-changing landscape?
We believe that we can be a resource during this time and the first step is to look at what our Expert members can tell us about the impact of COVID-19 on the field? Are there specific age groups that have been significantly more than others? Were more males laid off than females? Was front-line staff more impacted than senior staff? Were the layoffs and furloughs equitable or were people of color more impacted? What can we learn about the types of jobs that were eliminated? We aren’t sure that the answers lie within our database, but we hope that this effort will contribute to a much-needed conversation.
We have also identified the role that we can play in not only keeping these out-of-work professionals front of mind for museum leaders across the country, but also the important work of keeping our members updated on what is happening internally at museums. To do this we will be hosting a panel discussion featuring (#) museum leaders who will offer their thoughts on the museum landscape moving forward. This webinar will take place on Thursday, April 8 at 1:00 p.m., and will provide a platform for industry leaders to discuss several important topics like their reopening strategies and the skills they’ll be looking for in the hiring process, virtual programming, shifting audience needs and engagement strategies, and how they are managing business operations with less staff and how long they foresee having to do so.
We believe that MuseumExpert.org must help facilitate this important discussion, and we believe that we have the unique opportunity to help our members to stay engaged in these conversations. We want to give these diverse, experienced, and engaged out-of-work professionals a platform in which to add their voices to help the field adjust, adapt, and survive in a post-pandemic reality.
We hope you’ll join us in the dialogue.