Departments of an Art Museum



Running an art museum takes lots of people with multiple functions. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking with key staff members to give you an idea of what it takes. For now, here’s an overview of the different departments at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art:

  • Curatorial—Through research and working knowledge of the museum’s collection, the curatorial team creates, or curates, all of the exhibitions and gallery rotations in the museum. The curators use pieces from the museum’s permanent collection and pieces on loan from other organizations to put together an exhibition. Curators also put together print materials, such as gallery guides and catalogues, that accompany the exhibition.
  • Education—The education department organizes all of the museum’s educational events, from elementary school visits to lectures and gallery talks. In addition to these events, they coordinate films, concerts, art activities, and other special events related to the museum’s permanent or temporary collections. This department also oversees the training of docents and tour coordination.
  • Communication—The communication department is responsible for all things related to marketing and publicity including the website, press releases, social media, and advertising, as well as media and community relations.
  • Registration—Registration oversees all documentation of artwork, whether it is a piece from the permanent collection or on loan. Each piece of art has insurance, copyright/reproduction requests, legal documentation, records, and information that must be archived. Registration also keeps track of the artwork in the museum through a database and coordinates shipping, handling, and storage of the artwork.
  • Preparation—The preparation department is responsible for physically hanging and mounting artwork, as well as wall and pedestal treatments including paint, repair, wall movement in a rotating gallery space, and installation of hardware and lighting. The prep teams works closely with the curatorial department for exhibition changes, and with registration to track down artwork and physically move it for gallery rotations, shipping, packing, and storage.
  • Administration—The administration department is primarily responsible for financial operations such as payroll, museum donations, and accounts payable and receivable.
  • Security & Facilities—Security guards oversee museum security through gallery guards and electronic surveillance. Facility workers maintain upkeep of the building as well as venue rental for special events.
  • Customer Service—These are the friendly people who greet you as you come into the museum! Customer service helps guests with questions and provides visitor information.
  • Museum Store—The manager of the museum store is responsible for finding new items to sell in the store, working with vendors, and creating exclusive merchandise based on the museum’s collection and exhibitions.
  • Association—Association members provide the primary funding for art acquisitions that bolster the museum’s permanent collection. Members also financially support student activities and special programming, like the annual student exhibition. Membership benefits range from invitations to exclusive events, discounts at the museum store and for special programming as well as much more. Certain levels of membership qualify for additional benefits such as free admission to over 700 museums nationwide.
  • Membership Development­—The Membership Development Officer works closely with the Museum Association to represent the ideas, needs and interests of the museum’s membership and the community. The Membership Development officer is primarily responsible for membership recruitment, retention, event planning, fundraising, development, and donor relations, and assists with community relations.

To get a better understanding of what people in these departments do, we will be posting short interviews with employees from each department about what they do on a daily basis. Of course, it takes many more important people to run a museum, but these represent the key departments involved in day-to-day operations. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, please comment below!


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