Working [in museums] Wednesdays #3
By Edmund Connolly, on 5 June 2013
Tunnelling into museums (not literally!)
When it comes to job hunting I am intensely jealous of people like Flinders Petrie, who was pretty much handed the Chair of Egyptian Archaeology at the bequest of Amelia Edwards in 1892 . Whilst some of this does still happen in the Museum world, indeed any employment pool, it can be as difficult finding a vacancy in a museum at it is finding an andron in a Greek house.
There are some useful website for sourcing heritage and museum jobs. Naturally one can go direct to an institution (such as the BM or Tate), but bear in mind museums that are part of institutions, eg. the Petrie, employ via the same HR routes as their host (UCL). In other words, if one wants to apply for a job at the Petrie, the application will be on the UCL job website. However, for in-house volunteering schemes (as blogged in #2) you generally apply directly to the museum as they are more bespoke.
There are some websites which collate museum jobs in general, the standard Guardian Jobs is very useful as there is a ‘Arts and heritage’ group within which there is a ‘Museums’ sectioning. Slightly annoyingly though, this is separate from the Heritage and Library posts which are often also of interest, just make sure you tick both when searching.
www.museumjobs.com is an international site solely dedicated museum jobs, as with Guardian jobs you can register and this way get updates for suitable positions and roles. This isn’t an application site, but a database which collates loads of posts from employers who add their listing, so you will need to then go to the institution site (the link is given) to apply. This cuts out the difficulty of finding the vacancies site, which can be a nightmare to rootle up. If you do go directly to a site, I’d advise using the search site option (generally at the very top or bottom of the page) to actually find where the vacancies are posted.
I am usually very scathing about Linkdin, it seems to be Facebook for the employed where one’s friends simply recommend you for skills they know full well you don’t have, but it can be a way for you to hear of those in house vacancies and projects that are useful. When recruiting for our Cultural Heritage Fellowship 2012/13 (blog posts here, here and here) I certainly used it to find candidates and, as you can join institution groups like ICOMOS / UNESCO, you can keep a tab on international positions for those of you thinking of working abroad.
This is a good way for you to get a volunteering position, certainly a few of our most recent volunteers have joined our team because they came in to chat with our staff first and showed the skills we like to see in our volunteers ( #2). Take advantage of your degree structure, particularly if you are lucky to be at a university like UCL that has several museums. Our priority is to accommodate UCL students, so use these museums as a resource. Students from the IoA will be familiar with us, but any UCL student already has a foot in the door if they apply to volunteer with us.
Museum and Heritage jobs are, like any field, popular and seemingly scarce, but that is no reason to be perturbed! Regularly checking these sites is always a good idea, projects and vacancies pop up in museums overnight and often have a short time frame, so always be on the lookout for something appropriate. I’ve listed some sites below, it is certainly not exhaustive, but will hopefully prove useful.
Over and out.
Guardian Arts and Heritage: http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/jobs/arts-and-heritage
UK Museum jobs: http://www.museumjobs.com/uk/
 The whole nepotistic affair is well catalogued in: Drower, Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archaeology
 This is a terrible Classicist / archaeologist reference, see: Morgan, J., ‘Drunken men and modern myths: searching for the andron in classical Greece,’ in S.D. Lambert (ed.) Sociable Man. Essays in Greek Social Behaviour in Honour of Nick Fisher, (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales 2011) 267-290. For the full debate.
 This isn’t the case for all University museums, the Ashmolean and Fitzwilliam, for example, have their own dedicated employment pages.
 Nb: I don’t do this!