A Closer Look at a Career as a Museum Technician and Conservator
Utter the word “museum,” and the initial reaction most likely would be complete silence or outright dislike. After all, thanks to films and TV shows, museums were always portrayed as the place where fascinating old stuff that you are forbidden to touch are showcased—artifacts and various objects with artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific relevance. However, much has changed in the landscape of museums, and while they still do put in display precious artifacts, they are much more than that in recent years.
A great example is the current “Zuul” at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, ON. This exhibit features the actual dinosaur bones (including a skull) discovered by archeologists in Hill County, Montana in the United States. At the same time, they offer a plethora of interactive exhibits that focus on the wonderful discovery, including a video game where you can face off with other dinosaurs from that era.
With museums integrating technology, the more need there is for museum technicians and conservators. If this is a career that you’re thinking of, read on below as we take a comprehensive look at this burgeoning career.
Museums Technician and Conservators – What You Need to Know
Museum technicians and conservators are primarily responsible for the classification and the cataloguing of artifacts and works of art. In addition, they take on the lead in constructing, installing, and maintaining displays, and when the need calls for it, they are also the key players in restoring of display items to support conservation efforts. Other duties may include taking inventory of museum items, conducting tours and assisting with the planning and development of exhibitions and special events should travelling be required.
While their main work environment is a museum, they can also be employed in art galleries, archives, science centres, parks, aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, libraries, cultural centres, and other historic or heritage sites.
To succeed in this industry, museum technicians and conservators need to have excellent attention to detail, time management, and organization skills. It’s also a given that they need to be well-versed in arts and culture trends, and it helps to keep themselves up to date on prominent artists or exhibits around the world. Most of the time, they need to conduct their own research and therefore need to have research and analysis strengths.
According to Neuvoo.ca, museum technicians and conservators can earn from $42,000 per year up to $72,930 and beyond.
If you are looking at a career as a museum technician and conservator, you can opt for degrees or certificates in History, Archaelogy, Museum Studies, Anthropology, as well as Library, Archival, or Information Studies.
Professional affiliations and connections will also be an advantage for those who aspire for high-level positions in the future. For example, the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is a national organization dedicated to the continuous growth of the Canadian museum sector and provides training and support for any professional in the industry via development programs, conferences, publications, and networking opportunities.
Pros and Cons
For those who are truly passionate about arts and culture and history, being involved in a field that encompasses all these things is a benefit enough. Plus, museum technicians and conservators have the advantage of seeing exhibits or art works before anyone else and therefore they are frontline in the excitement.
However, the job comes with disadvantages too, and one of those is working long hours and being available for all types of events. It can also be extremely taxing especially when traveling is required. On the plus side, travelling is certainly something to look forward to by those who don’t want to be confined in an office space most of the day.