Museum Interviews: Artistic Workers
The curator I interviewed was in charge of the modern art section of the museum. They were in charge also of creating social media pages to draw attention to that section of the museum, and to garner public interest as well as stakeholder interest (thus they were on the phone and emailing a lot of potential stakeholders apprising them of acquisitioned material). In a sense, the curator was the manager of the museum (they looked after the collection which entailed also looking after the volunteers and staff for modern art, and did research in this area). The curator was responsible in a broader context for Canadian culture because modern art in Canada isn’t so well known and so the curator was bringing to the public’s knowledge such artists as video artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno and their installation Zidane at the National Gallery of Canada.
Tour guides were in charge of showing interested art patrons around the museum; this group also includes school children and possibly stakeholders (on some occasions). The tour guide has to be apprised of the museums collection both on display and in storage as well as go through interim schooling to keep themselves up to date with what’s going on with the museum. They must have thorough knowledge of the architecture of the building and the building’s blueprint. All of the tour guides had to commit to volunteering at least three years. The cultural significance they lend to Canadian art is great as they bring knowledge about artists and different art periods to the public and teach children the importance of the creative mind. They are the first interlopers to the public and therefore they get the most face time with them and also the most influence. Something a tour guide may impart to a group of school kids may inspire them to become an artist.
A cataloguer conducts in-depth research into the museums acquired pieces. They are responsible for researching current files and entering metadata into an online system to keep the archives up-to-date. Basically the cataloguer is responsible for keeping detailed records and keeping track of all of the museums pieces, dating it, writing legends that the museum patrons read, and giving all relevant detailed information about the piece (i.e. artist, date, material, etc.). Their importance to Canadian culture is also very great as without a record of pieces from a museum, there’s no way to keep track of anything and without organization no one else in the museum can their job as the volunteers, tour guides and curatorial staff all depend on the cataloguers’ information to their jobs.
OF all of the jobs at the museum I think I would like to be a cataloguer or a curator. I like handling art, acquiring certain pieces but most of all I enjoy learning about art. I think both of these jobs would allow me to learn about a piece of art and what’s really important to me is the art piece’s story: I want to know as much about a piece as possible and make sure that information is accurate. To me, finding the story is a type of treasure hunt and since I didn’t go into archeology I think this is the next best thing. It’s an attractive position and it would allow me to feel like every day on the job was different because every day I would be tracking down a different story. That’s appealing. I know I could do a job like this well because one of my personal strengths is never giving up until the job is done and done right. I don’t like letting things go unfinished.