Art Museum Trip What is the role of an Art Museum? To collect

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Art Museum Trip
What is the role of an Art Museum?
To collect, preserve, restore, exhibit and educate the public about works of art?

Museums enable people to explore their collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment.

Museums safeguard and make accessible objects, which they hold in trust for society.

An Art museum is a space for the exhibition of art, usually visual art, and usually primarily
paintings, illustrations, and sculpture. There may also be collections of applied art, including
ceramics, metalwork, furniture, artist's books and other types of objects.
Who are the people who work at an art museum?
The titles I have listed here may vary slightly depending on the museum. In large museums there
may be several people holding a title. In a small museum, one individual may fill several roles.

Museum Director (Head Curator) is in charge of the museum and all of its workings.
o Represents the museum in its contacts with the public and works with the entire staff
to make sure the museum runs smoothly.
o Responsible for raising money for the museum from donors, grants, etc.
o Link to the Association of Art Museum Directors: http://www.aamd.org/

Curators are the experts in charge of the collections of a museum and are responsible for
choosing and acquiring the pieces of art to be shown in a museum.
o Oversees the care, display and information about the objects in the museum.
o Specializes in a particular art form such as sculpture, painting, furniture, film, or
photography; others concentrate on artwork from a particular historical period.
o Writes publicity material and explanatory catalogs for exhibits and arrange for loans
of art objects to and from other museums.
o Link to the Association of Art Museum Curators to learn more about this
interesting profession: http://www.artcurators.org/

Registrars maintain the records of ownership and borrowing, condition, and location of
objects in museum collection, and oversee the movement, packing, and shipping of objects.
o Composes concise descriptions of objects, and records the descriptions in catalogs.

Educators plan and organize educational and public outreach programs such as tours,
workshops, and lectures to publicize the museum’s exhibits and collections.
Art Museum Trip
o Work with the Curators to develop the exhibits, and oversee the Docents.
o Interprets the art to the public so that people of all ages can enjoy the collection and
exhibits in the museum.
o Link to Museum-Ed: http://www.museum-ed.org/

Docents welcome visitors to the museum and guide people in tours of the museum’s
exhibits and collections.
o They tell the stories of the objects and answer questions for visitors. Docents are
usually volunteers who love art and enjoy talking about art with people.

Exhibit Designer works with the Curator to plan the layout and display of objects in the
museum’s galleries.
o Designs special cases for particular objects, decides on wall colors and placement,
and designs areas for learning stations and other ways to interact with the objects on
display.
o Small Museums may not have an in-house staff. There are companies that specialize
in display. See: http://www.lynchexhibits.com/markets.php?content=Museums

Preparator works with the Designer to hang and install artwork in museum galleries.
o Constructs and arranges the displays and is responsible for the careful handling of
the objects.

Security Guards and Museum Security Staff are responsible for the safety of the objects,
staff and visitors in the museum.
o Ensures that museum safety and etiquette rules are followed at all times. Security
Guards stand in the museum galleries to guard the objects and often answer
questions about the objects on display.

Additional Staff includes administrative assistant, maintenance, sales and service staff.
o In a large museum these people may number in the hundreds, at a small, local
museum the numbers are small -some of these jobs may be filled by volunteers.
Why might a work of art (object) be put in an art museum?

Antiquity – Objects of great age are preserved for us in museums. The older the object,
the more likely it will be moved to a museum for protection and preservation. Since
Art Museum Trip
America is a young country, most of the antiquities in our museums have come from
other countries.
o Are there any local antiquities you might find in a Pennsylvania Museum?

Rarity – Some objects are rare because of age. Other objects are no longer
manufactured.
o Can you think of some other reasons why an object might be rare?

Materials – Objects may be made of rare or valuable materials and involve fine
craftsmanship. (For example a medieval reliquary may be finely made of gold and
jewels.) In addition to the cultural and aesthetic qualities, an object may have materials
value and need to be protected against theft.
o Do you have objects in your homes, which have materials value in addition to
personal meaning to you and your family?

Historical, Cultural or Religious Value – We joke about “George Washington slept
here” but there is truth in the value of that statement. If an object was owned or used
by a famous person, the value grows accordingly.
o Who made the object? Who was the artist or craftsperson? Was the maker
important to the time and place in which they lived?
o How does cultural or religious perception of an object increase the value?
o Do you or your family own an object that has special meaning to you because of
a previous owner?

Aesthetics – This is the beauty or artistic value of an object. We have spent some time
discussing the formal properties of art.
o What dies it look like? Is it beautiful?
We have not yet spent much time talking about the expressive properties of art – does
it move you? (In our course work, as we move towards modern times, this question
becomes more important.)
o Does the object provoke an emotional or intellectual response from the viewer?
o Have you ever had an experience with a work of art that moved you in some
way?
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