Monday, December 14, 2009

Surviving, Adapting, and Making Do

While I have heard that things are starting to turn around for our economy, it's a sad state of affairs when the"good news" is that jobs are being lost at just a slightly slower pace than they were over the past few months. While it appears that there are some job statistics on the for-profit sector, there seems to be a dearth of information about the non-profit sector--specifically museums. I have heard from numerous colleagues about massive lay-offs, hiring freezes, and ridiculously large pools of applicants for the handful of jobs that pop up. But, I dont really seen any hard and fast data about how museum employees have been affected.

Has your museum laid off workers? If so, how many? What department were they in? Have you recently lost your job? Have you found other work? How is the search going?

Any advice for job seekers out there? How are you coping in this economy? Have financial issues forced you to change or adapt your career path?


Kat said...

Hi Everyone,
Sorry if this comment is not directly related to the post above, but I wasn't sure where else to get in contact with you.

Your post from last year about salaries and getting real information really ties into a thing that I and the team at Museos Unite ( are working on. We want to make our own database of salaries for museum workers, without anything else (education, government, other nonprofit) salaries being thrown in. And the info will be available for free on our blog once we've finished analysis.

Would you help us get the word out? Obviously, it is a topic that you care a lot about.

The link is:

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

This would really put the power in the hands of the workers, not the scattered few administrators who seem to keep museum pay as low as possible, while at the same time often wasting money in many other areas. How is it that salaries are almost always cut first when money gets short?

Library Diva said...

I lost my museum job about a year and a half ago. It's been about a year since I quit looking in the field. Now I'm in the newspaper field.

Part of the problem is that my old employer was always on the brink. Too many small museums out there are run extremely poorly, by people who may have a passion for the subject matter but lack the most basic knowledge of budgeting and finance. As a relatively recent MA, I actually had more in savings than my old employer, a well-known museum in the community that had been around for 25 years. How sad is that?
I wasn't terribly shocked when they lost my position, or my boss's position a few months later. The place was always one lost grant away from catastrophe.

I think the economic downturn will wipe out a lot of smaller places. The past couple of decades saw a huge boom in new museums. Anyone could see that it wasn't exactly sustainable. I feel for the kids who have taken on massive student loan debt to try to break into a field which is tight even in the best of times. With the corresponding boom in museum studies programs, I know they have to be out there.