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What price museum professionals?

April 22, 2013

 

Museum professional transportation?

Museum professional transportation?

Recently a volunteer at a museum I worked at mentioned in the car park that I must be well paid, I looked at my mid range seven year old car (the national average for a car in the UK) and wondered what he meant.  Although he did have a Y reg Rover.  It did bring home the point that working in organisations that have strong volunteer support, many supporters of museums are not affluent and feel uneasy about professionals making money from “their” museum.  Similar comments have been made to me from elected members who felt that working in museums doesn’t really require a salary, the love of the job is reward enough.  I suspect that most museum professionals do not consider themselves as particularly well paid but some may consider that any is too much already, especially as many people in museums are volunteers.

I could trot out the argument that to ensure the museum sector remains professional there needs to be a supply of paid staff, but doesn’t this imply that volunteers can’t be professional or that the museum community needs to have a socially representative group, and an established career aids this, but then why does the museum workforce remain predominately middle class and white? I still think paid museum work is a worthy profession, but be mindful when some  doubt this.

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