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The internal dynamics of the community museum Vallance, Julie Anne 1981

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THE INTERNAL DYNAMICS OF THE COMMUNITY MUSEUM  by JULIE ANNE VALLANCE B.A.j University of Western Ontario, 1977 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Anthropology)  We accept t h i s thesis as conforming t o the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1981 (c) J u l i e Anne Vallance, 1981  In p r e s e n t i n g  this  thesis  in p a r t i a l  f u l f i l m e n t of  an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h the L i b r a r y s h a l l I  f u r t h e r agree  for scholarly by h i s of  this  written  make i t  t h a t permission  for  Columbia,  I agree  r e f e r e n c e and  f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f  this  It  is understood that  for financial  gain s h a l l  permission.  Depa rtment The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h 2075 Wesbrook P l a c e V a n c o u v e r , Canada V6T 1W5  Columbia  not  copying or  for  that  study. thesis  purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department  representatives. thesis  freely available  the requirements  or  publication  be allowed without my  Acknowledgement I wish, to thank a l l of my informants, whose insights and hospitality were invaluable to me. I also wish to thank Dr. Marjorie Halpin, Dr. Martin Silverman, and especially Dr. Michael Ames for his infinite patience and encouragement.  i  ABSTRACT The following paper i s an attempt to explore the Internal dynamics of small community museums. This exploration takes the form of two case studies i n which the various points of view of staff and volunteers are presented.  The results point to the emergence of two distinct and  generally conflicting orientations on the part of individuals in' both museums. These orientations are identified respectively as service to the community, on one hand, and as a concern with standardization and control or professionalism, on the other. The second focus of the paper deals with some of the recent reports concerning evaluation of training programs as well as future directions for community museums, as perceived by organizations such as the British Columbia Museums Association, the Canadian Museums Association, and the National Museums of Canada. What emerges from the examination of this literature i s the growing preoccupation on the part of these organizations with the creation of a museum profession.  It becomes clear that  those who espouse this notion of professionalism demonstrate the same preoccupation with control and standardization as do the "professionallyoriented" individuals i n the two case studies presented. Finally, three alternative futures for community museums are presented.  The f i r s t one envisions the complete professionalization of  the small museum and the loss of i t s community service orientation. The second future shows the two orientations continuing i n conflict, i n some instances providing a creative dynamic. The third possible future i s one i n which a l l of the organizations and individuals involved recognize and take steps to preserve the unique nature of the community museum through astute training programs and support mechanisms, while ii. •0  a l l o w i n g f o r the l i m i t e d and appropriate use of p r o f e s s i o n a l methods and standards.  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT  ii  INTRODUCTION  v  DATA COLLECTION METHODS  vi  CHAPTER I . PIONEER MUSEUM  1  The S t a f f The Volunteers Responsibility Interpretation Spatial Orientation Alliances Creative Tension i n Pioneer Museum 22  CHAPTER I I . SPECIALTY MUSEUM The S t a f f Trustees Responsibility P r o f e s s i o n a l Standards Concept o f Museum Work Spatial Orientation Tensions i n S p e c i a l t y Museum CHAPTER I I I . TOWARD PROFESSIONALISM  32  Polarization of Attitudes The Current Focus o f the L i t e r a t u r e Backgrounds o f P r o f e s s i o n a l l y - O r i e n t e d I n d i v i d u a l s Creating and C o n t r o l l i n g the New E l i t e Three A l t e r n a t i v e Futures Summary  BIBLIOGRAPHY  ^7  APPENDIX  48  iv  INTRODUCTION The Institution which runs by s t r i c t adherence to general rules gives up i t s own autonomy. I f i t tries to adopt equality or seniority or alphabetical order or any other hard and fast principle, for promotion and admission, i t i s bound to override the hard case. Furthermore, i t i s bound to abandon i t s traditions and so- i t s identity and i t s original- special purposes. For these humanizing influences depend, upon a continuity with the past, benevolent forms of nepotism, irregular charity, extraordinary promotions, freedom to pioneer i n the tradition of the founders, whoever they were. (Douglas, 1970, p. 188) We i n Canada are witnessing the growth and development of a museum "profession."  The new professionals: differ from their prede-  cessors, not only i n terms of training, but i n terms of attitudes and expectations as well. This paper i s an attempt to describe and analyse the differing orientations developing i n two local museumsand to relate these orientations to the dynamic growth of professionalism as i t i s appearing i n recent publications and reports. The following case studies were conducted i n two British Columbia museums i n the summer of 1980.  The methods- used for description  included both observation and interviewing.  The case studies took  place over a period of approximately two and a half months.  v  DATA COLLECTION METHODS The research f o r t h i s paper took place from mid-May to the end of August, 1980.  I t was  funded by a student fellowship from the Uni-  v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. Acquisition of data comprised two basic techniques.  The head  (or acting head) of each museum was f i r s t contacted by l e t t e r and l a t e r by telephone, during which time appointments f o r interviews were scheduled.  Paid s t a f f generally scheduled interviews i n advance,  while volunteers were generally.interviewed i n groups as they worked. Some interviews were conducted while simply following the s t a f f member around i n the course of .his or her duties.  A l l interviews.followed  a basic set of questions from which informants were free to digress (see appendix).  The other technique was ethnographic  observation and  note-taking which involved v i s i t i n g each museum on a number of occasions, making sketch maps, and chatting casually with s t a f f and volunteers as they worked. In Pioneer Museum [pseudonym], I interviewed f i f t e e n i n d i v i d u a l s , but found that only eleven of the interviews yielded s u f f i c i e n t information to be used i n the case study. Specialty Museum [pseudonym] i s a much smaller I n s t i t u t i o n than Pioneer Museum, with only four i n d i v i d u a l s working on the premises. The trustees were supplied with questionnaires at the request of the d i r e c t o r , who handled both t h e i r d i s t r i b u t i o n and c o l l e c t i o n .  Although  I received responses from a l l twelve trustees, only two supplied s u f f i c i e n t information to be used i n the  study.  The t h i r d museum d i d not y i e l d s u f f i c i e n t data f o r use i n t h i s paper.  I v i s i t e d the museum on several occasions, interviewed f i v e vi  individuals, and chatted casually with a few others.  The atmosphere of  the museum was so fraught with apparent tension (which may or may not have been caused by my presence) that I failed to achieve the necessary rapport with the individuals involved to gain a clear understanding of the situation. At this point, i t i s perhaps appropriate to point out the d i f f i culties of doing such research i n small museums. Although a l l of the museums i n the study attempted to accommodate me as much as possible and almost a l l informants willingly gave long interviews, the conflicting forces operating i n each case were such that my presence appeared to constitute a source of concern for several individuals.  I soon learned  that any outsider coming into a potentially unstable situation, asking questions and interviewing various individuals, can be perceived as a catalyst at best, ready to set off any underlying conflict.  Yet, as I  point out later i n this paper, this experience i s precisely the kind required by students to foster an appreciation of the day-to-day problems faced by museum staff members and volunteers: i n small conmunity museums. Having acquired some awareness of the potential for conflict, I can only be grateful that they opened their doors to me at a l l , let alone with such hospitality as they generally extended.  vii  1 CHAPTER I.  PIONEER MUSEUM  Pioneer Museum i s a "living" museum, with a professional staff of approximately twenty paid staff (including part-time workers) and a corps of approximately one hundred twenty volunteers (which fluctuates considerably from one season to the next).  It i s a popular local attraction  which focuses on the history of the late nineteenth, century, particularly that of the local area. chapel, and a smithy.  Its exhibits include an ice cream parlour, a  "Volunteers man the various exhibits, explaining  the artifacts, and performing craft demonstrations, as well as leading tours for children. The museum has a relaxed, interactive atmosphere and visitors can be seen engaging the volunteers i n prolonged conversations, mostly about the artifacts which they themselves have seen i n the hands of their own parents or grandparents. The Staff Curator' The curator i s a young man who has occupied this position for four and one-half years.  He was originally hired as a cataloguer and  gradually, rose to his present position.  At one point he worked as a  janitor as well as a cataloguer. His background consists of three years as an English major i n university, followed by a year of arts at a college.  He had a three-month internship at the British Columbia  Provincial Museum,'all of the British Columbia Museums Association workshops, and the Canadian Museums Association correspondence  course.  The responsibilities of his present position include care of the artifacts and research, including assistance i n the training of volunteers.  He also leads tours when the museum i s short-handed.  Much of  2 his time i s spent i n dealing with prospective donors and with requests from small museums for assistance. Assistant Curator The assistant curator was appointed to his position only three months prior to the study.  He feels that he has "no special training""'"  for the position. He studied archeology and anthropology i n college and worked as both a volunteer and a paid staff member at an archeological f i e l d school.  He i s about to attend his f i r s t Provincial Museum  seminar at another museum. He applied for the present job because he wanted to follow the artifact from "the archeological site to the museum." His responsibilities include cataloguing and research, as well as leading tours when the need arises. Since he i s relatively new to the job, he feels that he has yet to develop a complete relationship to the rest of the museum staff and the local community. Education Coordinator The coordinator has been with the museum for four years.  Her back-  ground includes a degree i n corniiunications, a legal stenographer course, a "multi-small group and sociology background," and one year i n an art gallery.  Prior to working i n the museum she owned her own business.  When she "needed a rest," she applied to Canada Manpower and was placed with the museum. The responsibilities of her position include training and supervision of volunteers, and the arranging of special events, such as craft demonstrations. General Store Manager The general store manager i s an elderly woman who has. worked i n  A l l quotations not otherwise attributed are taken verbatim from the writer's f i e l d notes.  the museum for three years.  Prior to that, she worked with the  Canadian Pacific Railroad and held a position i n the Yukon as a resident supervisor of native children.  She has worked i n various areas i n the  museum, including the ice cream parlour and the g i f t shop. Her present responsibilities include the supervision of the store and most of the interpretation of artifacts for the visitors.  She also takes over for  other workers while they take their coffee breaks. Ice Cream Parlour Manager The ice cream parlour manager i s a young woman who has recently completed a year of college. She i s taking some time off from school to work, but plans to return to school i n the future. Although, she has had l i t t l e real training for her position, she has spent several years as a volunteer with her church youth club.  In addition to learning  leadership s k i l l s from the experience, she also acquired a knowledge of public relations which serves her well i n her present position. Her present responsibilities include the management of the museum's food operations, including staffing and inventory. Volunteer Coordinator The volunteer coordinator i s a middle-aged woman who has occupied the position for only three months. Her background consists mainly of extensive volunteer administration experience which she gained as a volunteer herself.  Her contact with the museum came about through her  membership i n a local vaudeville group which has put on numerous performances at the museum over the past three years. with senior citizens as a volunteer.  She also worked  Her areas of responsibility are  volunteer staffing, recruitment, and supervision. Bookkeeper The bookkeeper i s a middle-aged woman who has worked i n the museum  3  4 i t s opening almost a decade ago.  Her background consists of several years  in business as a keeper of accounts with a local firm.  Until recently  her responsibilities included a l l of the museum's financial accounting. Recently, however, the museum's accounts have become somewhat too large for one person to handle and the municipality has assumed some of the responsibility for keeping the books. Gift Shop Manager The gift shop manager i s a middle-aged woman who has held this position for two years.  Prior to this, she was a volunteer and a docent,  working i n virtually every aspect of the museum's operation.  She de-  veloped leadership s k i l l s during her several years -of volunteer work and she continues to work as a volunteer i n the gift shop of the local hospital.  Her present responsibilities include the staffing and manage-  ment of the gift shop. Volunteers  The Volunteers  Interviewing of volunteers was done i n group settings, usually while they worked.  I chose to focus on three women only.  Mrs. A Mrs. A i s a volunteer who has worked i n the museum for seven years.  She maintains that she has no real s k i l l s for the job, only  interest and commitment. Her background includes years of volunteering as a G i r l Guide leader, coordinator for Meals On Wheels, and church auxiliary member. She reports that her museum involvement i s just the logical extension of community involvement i n other areas. Mrs. B Mrs. B has been with the museum for only a year, having recently moved from another neighbourhood.  She does volunteer work i n order to  5 become part of the local "network" of women. Her background Includes leadership of Cubs and Brownies and participation as a driver for the local cancer outpatient c l i n i c .  She reports that volunteer work has  become more important to her as a social outlet since her children have grown up and left home. Mrs. C Mrs. C i s a retired businesswoman who has worked i n the museum for five years. Prior to volunteering i n the museum she volunteered with the Red Cross and with local senior citizens.  She feels that volunteer-  ing i s important for her because she i s used to being around people and misses them. She i s caring for two elderly people at home, and the museum gives her an opportunity to mix with young people on a regular basis. Responsibility There are two basic levels of responsibility operating i n Pioneer Museum. At one level i s the responsibility to maintain professional standards and authenticity.  At the other i s the responsibility to  serve the community and to be the source of community values.  While  they are not mutually exclusive concerns, most staff and volunteers tend to place one or the other responsibility f i r s t i n their l i s t of priorities. Professional Standards Regardless of the size of the museum or i t s handling staff, i t i s important for the director to imbue his staff with a clear understanding of the basic museum values. (Canadian Museum Association, 1975, p. 59) The curator, assitant curator, and educational coordinator report concern over what they perceive to be "cumulative errors" within the  6 museum. They feel that these problems are reflected not only i n interpretation but i n the general behaviour of the museum's volunteers and in the museum's overall lack of coordination.  They also complain that  lack of knowledge and training on the part of some volunteers causes them to handle and display artifacts i n potentially destructive ways. The curator i n particular feels responsible for*"the safety of the artifacts, saying that the priorities of the museum are . . . to collect, preserve, document and make available artifacts. The f i r s t three make the fourth almost impossible. The curator reports that local donors frequently f a i l to understand the rules of donating and that problems are caused by their interference "after the fact."  He wants to keep such individuals around for docu-  mentation and, i f possible, for volunteering.  However, he i s forced to  keep them at a distance and to c a l l upon nonexistent rules to control them because they frequently attempt to use their positions as a form of leverage to exercise rights of use and display.  He feels that such  manipulation by donors i s a threat to the integrity of the museum. These three staff members report that their concern with the issues of standards places them i n varying degrees of opposition to other staff members and volunteers.  The assistant curator believes  that volunteers have a casual approach to museum work: Many are playing at their jobs. . . . Volunteers should take the professional approach. . . '. They are here to do a job for us. The curator feels that this same lack of professionalism extends to the local community and affects the museum i n a negative way. A recent local festival, for instance, i n which the museum was involved was an embarrassment because i t was badly organized.  The curator feels,  due to the "missed deadlines and late pamphlets," that the community  7  should have hired a professional promoter, who w aid have done a more professional job. A l l three of these workers express commitment to professional museum standards.  These standards include professional attitudes on  the part of a l l staff members, freedom of the curatorial staff from outside influence, and appropriate handling and interpretation of a r t i facts.  These are standards promoted by the museum community and a l l  three staff feel any lowering of these standards would reflect upon their own credibility and would be cause for concern.  As senior staff  members, they feel accountable to the museum community for the standards of professionalism i n their museum. As the curator states, "Your reputation i s at stake a l l the time."  This commitment to professionalism  and identification with museum colleagues at some points appears to take precedence over their Identification with the local community, though the two sets of interests can also reinforce each other (see below). Community Service In order for the museum to f u l f i l l i t s role i n the community, i t must be a conscious part of the community and the community must be conscious that the museum i s part of i t . (Canadian Museums Association, 1 9 7 5 , p. 7 3 ) The g i f t shop manager, ice cream parlour manager, volunteer coordinator, bookkeeper, general store manager, and a l l three volunteers express the view that their f i r s t priority i s to serve the community. A l l of these women have done volunteer work i n the past; a l l except the bookkeeper and the general store manager have also done volunteer work i n this museum. The notion of service or "doing good" reflects the concern on the part of this group with being useful to the community. The actual museum work appears to come second to the idea of performing a service for one's neighbour. The nature of their caiimitment appears  8 to be virtually unconditional.  A l l of them refer to times when they  willingly put i n longer hours and did more than was necessary because the museum was i n need. As Mrs. A states, "Indeed, we don't mind coming in every day i f we're needed." The importance of their work lies not just i n the act of volunteering i t s e l f but i n long-term commitment, and willingness to respond to the needs of the institution as they arise, regardless of any personal inconvenience. This group does not perceive i t s responsibilities as limited or specific.  These individuals tend to  define what they perceive to be the needs of the museum and attempt to f u l f i l l them without being asked.  Por instance, Mrs. A reports that  through her conversations with a visitor she has been able to locate and have delivered a supply of firewood for the museum free of charge. Mrs. B states that she has encountered potential donors and has been able to s o l i c i t valuable donations for the museum. The bookkeeper recalls the opening of Pioneer Museum almost a decade ago, when she and many other workers put i n long hours of overtime i n order to ensure that the museum opened on time.  These women feel that their responsibility to the  museum and to the community i s open-ended and not simply confined to the job that they happen to be doing at the moment. Another aspect of the service offered by the museum,and i t s staff i s the chance for local people to volunteer and participate.  The vol-  unteer coordinator i n particular feels that one of the museum's priorities i s to provide both old and young individuals with opportunities to perform interesting and worthwhile volunteer wSrk. Por younger people i t means that they can acquire a good work reference and some job skills.  In fact, the museum i s at present participating i n a juvenile  offenders' program, whereby a young person sentenced to a given number  9  of hours of community service can serve those hours i n the museum under the supervision of the volunteer coordinator.  Por older individuals the  museum can provide a worthwhile pastime and help to assuage loneliness. As the volunteer coordinator states, We should contact these people. There's far too much isolation. I feel that very strongly. . . . Everybody i s so desperately lonesome. A f i n a l aspect of the museum's responsibility and one which these individuals feel i s their special area, i s the transmission of traditional community values.  A l l of these workers report that the importance of the  "living museum" concept lies i n the ability to directly transmit a personal and local version of the past to children. Mrs. A feels that her own children, for instance, are ignorant of many important features of the local past and that the museum i s the place to teach them: 1^think that the education of the children and keeping alive [local] history i s probably their biggest asset. The members of this group, excluding the bookkeeper, who does not deal with the public, prefer to teach by demonstration, allowing children to "work" by f i l l i n g coal o i l lamps, chopping wood, and making soap. This, they feel, i s the most effective way of teaching the young. As Mrs. B states, Young children today don't know what the past was like. I'm sure they don't teach i t i n school. . . . People have got to remember what went on before. These women feel that i t i s important to convey to local children a sense of "how much things have changed." They want children to appreciate values such as "hard work" and "community s p i r i t " that were important to their ancestors.  10 Overlapping Responsibilities The principle of professional standards and that of community service, while representing differing orientations i n Pioneer Museum, are not mutually exclusive.  While the ice cream parlour manager, volun-  teer coordinator, g i f t shop manager, general store manager, bookkeeper and three volunteers a l l place their primary emphasis on service to the community, they acknowledge the need for certain standards.  The volun-  teers in particular talk about their role i n assisting the caretaking work of the paid staff by maintaining a watch over the artifacts. As Mrs. A states, If we see something broken or about to f a l l down we report i t . . . . 1 think the volunteer i s an important person i n that way. The manager of the ice cream parlour store states that she feels that the volunteers for the most part have an appreciation of the need for high standards.  She herself expresses sympathy for the staff, re-  porting that conflicts over standards are inevitable and d i f f i c u l t for the paid staff to handle i n a tactful way. The curator, assistant curator, and educational coordinator report varying degrees of desire to increase the museum's role in the community. The assistant curator feels that i t i s possible to "cater the museum" and he hopes that the museum can have better communication with the community through the creation of a local historical society. The educational coordinators-expresses  positive feelings about her  involvement with local craftspeople who perform demonstrations. She herself i s making an effort to establish a stronger personal relationship with the local community by volunteering on committees for local events.  She describes herself as "committed" to the idea of the "living"  community museum.  11 Illustration An incident which"'illustrates a conflict brought about by these differing orientations i s one which centres on the use of artifacts. The museum has a wood stove which, according to the curator, i s old and somewhat fragile.  The volunteers use the stove for demonstrations of  traditional baking, an event which i s popular with visitors.  The curator  is attempting to stop the volunteers from lighting i t because he feels i t i s irresponsible behaviour, given the condition of the artifact. The volunteers are resisting his orders because they feel that demonstrations for the visitors are more important than the preservation of the artifact itself.  They feel that artifacts must be used, and handled by visitors  whenever possible. This particular controversy has become a test of power between the curator and seme of the local volunteers.  The curator  feels that such erosion of his authority could make his position at Pioneer Museum untenable.  Although he himself states that ^'Ninety percent  of the collection i s not unique,-''significant, or irreplaceable," he feels that the museum's major priority i s to preserve artifacts rather than to possibly harm them by making them available to the public. Definitions of Responsibility The curator, assistant curator, and educational coordinator share a f a i r l y specific definition of responsibility.  Unlike other staff  members who see their responsibility to the museum and the community as the same thing, these individuals are concerned almost exclusively with the museum i t s e l f .  Their sense of responsibility i s expressed as a  concern with control over artifacts, donors, volunteers, and so on. Those aspects of the museum which are or threaten to be outside their control are a source of trouble for them. Therefore, for them "responsib i l i t y " appears to mean authority. They do not feel accountable i n any  12  large degree to the local community for the state of the museum. They are Instead accountable to the source of their own professional standards, and that i s the museum world, or other paid museum workers. The second group of paid and volunteer workers perceives i t s responsibility as providing generalized service to both, the museum and the community. The museum for them serves as a place i n which members of the local community can serve that community by helping to preserve, and more importantly, to transmit the local past to the visitor.  Because  they are themselves a part of the community and not members of any particular profession, these individuals represent the community values reflected i n the creation of the museum. Since they also view themselves and the museum as reflections of the community, the scope of their responsibility i s more diffuse and wide-ranging. Interpretation The act of interpretation i s another area in: .-which museum staff and volunteers demonstrate several different orientations. As was previously mentioned, the issue of interpretation i s related directly to the issue of responsibility i n Pioneer Museum. One group i s primarily interested i n the standardization and control of interpretation. The other group i s more concerned with creative expression and interaction. Standardization Part of the museum curator's job i s to abstract, simplify, and make interesting the important information about the objects he shows. He does not attempt to t e l l ; he should not dwell on unimportant details. He should render into simple, standard''' English what should be said. (Burcaw, 1975, P. 137) The curator, assistant curator, and educational coordinator concern themselves primarily with control and supervision of interpretation. Their notion of interpretation i s one of instruction, "explaining" the  13 use and history of the artifacts. The curator feels that there i s an increasing amount of unauthorized material creeping into volunteer interpretations. can lead to embarrassing situations.  He reports that this  According to him, the job of paid  staff membersj particularly the educational coordinator. Is to watch for and suppress these inaccuracies. He feels that volunteers are not "inventors" and that they should adhere more conscientiously to the information that they^are given by the staff members in charge. The job of "inventing" heritage or interpretation i s the sole responsibility of the curatorial staff, who "know and subscribe thoroughly to the limitations" of inventing. The curator describes this process as "pure invention." While i t appears to be the task of the curatorial staff to create and manipulate the meanings of the artifacts, they feel that i t i s inappropriate for other individuals to do so. The educational coordinator reports that she attempts, to ensure conformity on the part of the volunteers by regularly monitoring their performances, reading the guest register for comments, and giving regular quizzes which keep her informed of their knowledge " i n a fun way."  She  feels particularly concerned about the "lack of professionalism" i n volunteer interpretations: The public doesn't expect a certain standard, so there i s l i t t l e pressure. The more embellishment you add, the more the public likes i t . You must decide whether you want good gate attendance or high standards. Which side of the fence are you on? The assistant curator noted that sometimes volunteers seem to be what professionals would consider to be negative toward interpretation.  In  such a case, probably the only way to detect such unauthorized versions would be "by chance," since volunteers might not want to do these things  i n front of the curatorial s t a f f .  A c c o r d i n g t o him, i n t e r p r e t a t i o n c a n be  an a r e a o f s e r i o u s c o n f l i c t i n t h e museum. Creative Interaction I n t e r p r e t a t i o n does n o t e x i s t i n a vacuum. I t i s comm u n i c a t i o n between t h e museum s t a f f (as s t u d e n t s and t e a c h e r s ) and t h e p u b l i c . . . . (Burcaw, 1975, p. 135) The v o l u n t e e r c o o r d i n a t o r , g i f t shop manager, g e n e r a l  store  manager., i c e cream p a r l o u r manager, a n d a l l t h r e e v o l u n t e e r s p r e f e r t o use i n d i v i d u a l i z e d forms o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The v o l u n t e e r c o o r d i n a t o r , i c e cream p a r l o u r manager, and t h e t h r e e v o l u n t e e r s c h a r a c t e r i z e t h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n as " t h e a t r e , " a dramatic  f o r m i n w h i c h t h e y c a n make t h e p a s t "come a l i v e . "  Their notion  o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n goes beyond s i m p l e i n s t r u c t i o n o r e x p l a n a t i o n t o become a k i n d o f a r t f o r m o r c r e a t i v e s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n . The v o l u n t e e r c o o r d i n a t o r s t a t e s t h a t she p a r t i c u l a r l y e n j o y s p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n t h i s way: I came down h e r e y e s t e r d a y on a v o l u n t e e r b a s i s . . . . I went and g o t o u t my y e l l o w s a t i n d r e s s w i t h . l o w c u t n e c k l i n e . . . and I slunk'"down t h a t s t r e e t l i k e Mae West. The  o t h e r women d e s c r i b e t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e  o r "an excuse t o d r e s s up i n costume."  as " f u n , "  M r s . A and Mrs.  "romantic," B note that  t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s have.changed somewhat, becoming more o u t g o i n g and confident as a r e s u l t o f performing  the past.  A l l o f t h e s e women f e e l  t h a t t h e y have t h e m s e l v e s b e n e f i t e d and grown as a r e s u l t o f p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a d r a m a t i c , p u b l i c way. A l l o f t h e women i n t h i s group f e e l t h a t i t i s i m p o r t a n t  for a l l  of the i n d i v i d u a l s involved i n presenting the "past" t o give c r e d i b l e performances.  While they enjoy t h e experience,  they a l s o f e e l that i t  i s t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o e n s u r e t h a t t h e museum m a i n t a i n s p i o n e e r atmosphere.  an a u t h e n t i c  T h i s means t h a t a l l t h o s e i n costume must s t r i v e t o  remain i n character a l l the time.  The volunteer coordinator reports that  she monitors a l l of the "performers" regularly, not for the content of their interpretation, but to ensure that they do not do things which are out of context for the character which they are portraying (for instance, smoking or whistling).  She reports that she recently threatened a young  male volunteer with a "trip behind the woodshed" for smoking, a punishment he would have received during the period he was portraying. A l l of the women who perceive their interpretation as "theatre" point out that their performances have a substantial impact on the visitor and therefore must be approached i n a responsible manner. Another aspect of interpretation which a l l of the women i n this group view as important i s the creation of a "good" atmosphere. This Is expressed as " s p i r i t , " "attitude," and "morale." The atmosphere of the museum must reflect the fact that i t s staff operates with warmth and enthusiasm toward each other and the visitor.  A l l of these individuals  report a concern with maintaining this atmosphere. They report that visitors often notice and comment favourably upon i t .  Mrs. B states that  . . . a lady stopped me on the street and said, "This i s such a nice place to v i s i t . A l l you volunteers make i t so warm." These women feel that "attitude" i s the most important aspect of their jobs and that the museum can succeed only to the extent that they are successful i n creating positive feelings on the part of the visitor. As the manager of the ice cream parlour said: You can have the most gorgeous place. . . . but i f you don't have the morale . . . that's going to reflect to the public what the place i s really l i k e — i t ' s no good. You'd better just close the doors. These women themselves view the museum in personal and sentimental ways. The volunteer coordinator likens her experience to "ccming home."  The ice cream parlour manager states that " I t s really nice having a 1  place you can belong to."  It i s this sense of personal involvement which  they wish to convey to the visitor. Overlapping Responsibility As with the issue of responsibility, there i s a degree of overlap between these two groups. The volunteers report that they are constantly educating themselves by reading and visiting other museums. According to Mrs. A: I think . . . that you.do a lot of self-training, like when an exhibit comes to town that~might t i e i n , you ; would go and see i t . Also anything you might see, like an article i n the newspaper. You initiate your own learning. These three women feel that they have a responsible attitude and that they do not "make anything up."  The gift shop manager agrees,  stating that the volunteers with whom she works know more about the museum than anyone else, including her, and that they can be trusted i n the area of interpretation.  The general store manager reports that she uses her  own interpretation entirely and feels justified i n doing so because she actually worked i n a general store like the one i n the museum. She feels that her expertise makes her able to rely on her own judgement. A l l of the members of the group oriented toward creative interaction report that when they do not know an answer to a visitor's question, they freely admit i t and relay the question to the curatorial staff. In fact, Mrs. A also feels that volunteers perform a valuable service for the curatorial staff by providing them with information from visitors: I've had somebody say, "You know, you're displaying such and such . . . and that's not correct." And i t may be something new that's just come i n and, really, the curatorial staff hasn't had time to research i t and they aren't sure about i t . The educational coordinator, on the other hand, recognizes and  acknowledges the importance of the volunteers who work directly with the visitors and help to create a positive experience for them. As she states, the visitor " . . .  may forget the facts, but they'll remember their  smiling faces." The assistant curator also recognizes that volunteers can create a positive and enthusiastic atmosphere which i s beneficial to the museum. He himself reports that he was surprised to find himself caught up i n the excitement and enthusiasm of the volunteers who were performing a craft demonstration recently. As a result, he states, "I had fun, too." Illustration The example below illustrates one conflict caused by these differing orientations toward interpretation.  The curator reports that volunteers  persist i n t e l l i n g visitors that a particular dining room set i n the museum was hand carved by a local pioneer.  The curator states, "Anyone looking  at i t can see that i t i s manufactured."  This, i n his opinion, creates an  embarrassing situation because the curatorial staff sees i t s e l f as responsible for such errors. The curator cannot understand why the volunteers persist i n telling the story when they have been informed that i t i s untrue.  The three volunteers, on the other hand, insist that they always  t e l l the truth and they never make anything up and they do not know of any volunteers who  do.  Form Versus Content—Two Definitions of interpretation It appears that, i n terms of interpretation, one group concerns i t s e l f with "form," that i s , a professionalized, standardized version of the "facts," while the other group i s primarily concerned with "content" or "experience."  The three paid staff members who are concerned with  form do not claim that they are transmitting truth, but only that they are more constrained by the facts as limitations when inventing the story.  18 The other group, which includes both volunteers and paid staff members, i s primarily concerned with creating a vivid and personal experience for themselves and for the visitor.  Because for them the act of interpretation  i s essentially a creative, individual performance, i t necessarily w i l l deviate, at least i n subtle ways, from the museum's " o f f i c i a l " interpretation. If the curatorial staff and the educational coordinator insist on imposing absolute limitations on the interpretation of volunteers and other paid staff who work with the public, they w i l l be robbing the act of i t s creative aspects.  To give the artifact an " o f f i c i a l " interpretation  is to fundamentally change i t s significance.  Its mythic past, the one  which the local volunteers and paid staff perceive to be i t s "real$ meaning, i s exchanged for a meaning which makes i t interchangeable with any other artifact of the same description i n any other museum. If those advocating creative interpretations, on the other hand, insist on interpreting the past i n a totally dramatic way, with l i t t l e concern for the limitations imposed by fact, the museum w i l l suffer a loss of credibility i n museum circles. This conflict over interpretation of artifacts may reflect another deeper conflict.  I f the artifacts are allowed to retain their unique,  esoteric meanings, which come from the local community, then the "experts" are the local interpreters who know the stories best.  I f , on the other  hand, the local meanings of the artifacts are replaced by."official" ones, which come from sources outside the local community, then the "experts" w i l l be the paid staff who have contact with the larger museum world. Defining the artifact helps to define the situation of "who's i n charge" in the community museum.  Spatial Orientation The way i n which various individuals orient themselves spatially i n relation to each other within the museum reflects the basic patterns established through the issues of responsibility and interpretation. As might be expected, the senior staff—curator, assistant curator, and volunteer coordinator—occupy  single offices.  Those of the curator  and the volunteer coordinator are located on the top floor of the museum building. The curator's office i s less accessible than that of the volunteer coordinator, because one must pass through the bookkeeper's reception area to reach i t .  The volunteer coordinator's office i s  regularly used by the younger volunteers as a place to change and iron their costumes. The office of the assistant curator i s the least accessible of the three because i t i s located i n the rear corner of another building and i s d i f f i c u l t to find. Other museum staff are located i n varying degrees: of shared space. The bookkeeper occupies arropen reception area outside the curator's office.  The telephones and Intercom are also located i n this area and  staff members regularly pass through i t .  The educational coordinator  shares an office with another paid staff member. It i s located on the far side of the museum complex, adjacent to the volunteers' area. The volunteers share a large basement and that i s where they make costumes and handicrafts, i n addition to taking their breaks and socializing. The basement i s also used as a demonstration area when the museum holds crafts demonstrations.  The general store manager, the g i f t shop manager,  and the ice cream parlour manager share a lunchroom i n the basement of the building, which also houses the curator and volunteer coordinator. This lunchroom Is also used by various paid staff, such as maintenance personnel.  20 Attitudes Toward Space The staff and volunteers at Pioneer Museum have their own clearlydefined areas and they respect each other's space. Volunteers enter the areas of the paid staff only on business, and vice-versa. There i s l i t t l e interaction between staff and volunteers, such as eating lunch or taking coffee breaks together.  The three volunteers i n the study  preferred to be interviewed i n their area and i n the context of the larger group which consisted of women working, and coming and going. They explain that interacting with other women i s one of their major reasons for being i n the museum. The style of their interaction i s supportive, each woman giving and seeking confirmation of her views and opinions from the others.  The younger volunteers, students working for  the summer, do not share the volunteers' area.  A l l of the younger  volunteers remain outside or i n the office of the volunteer coordinator. Alliances The curator and the assistant curator are friends and spend time socializing together during the work day.  The educational coordinator  spends her free time with the other staff member who shares her office. The volunteer coordinator spends her free time interacting with the young volunteers i n her office.  The bookkeeper spends tine interacting  with some of the other older paid staff members, especially one of the maintenance people.  The other paid members tend to socialize with each  other, with the exception of the gift shop manager, who interacts to some' extent with the volunteers.  The volunteers keep to themselves and  have l i t t l e social contact with any of the paid staff. Creative Tension in Pioneer Museum The patterns which emerge from Pioneer Museum reveal two orientations,  one identifying with other museum workers or the "museum world," and the other identifying with, the local community.  The differences between them  are not drawn along fixed, immutable lines.  Rather, they represent two  important aspects of museum work: concern with proper procedure and form, and concern with the creation of an enriched personal experience. When i n balance, the interaction between these two orientations provides a creative tension within the museum, a positive source of growth, and development. But when they become concretized into divisions' between people, the different views can no longer coexist peacefully.  Tension  escalates and becomes counterproductive, leading to conflict between groups.  CHAPTER II. SPECIALTY MUSEUM Specialty Museum i s located i n a large building In a community complex.  It has a paid staff of four:  director, administrative assistant,  museum curator, and secretary (who was hired just after this study began). The museum gives regular tours for children but i t " i s busiest during an annual festival which lasts for approximately one month.. The museum also hosts an annual banquet for supporters, during which, i t does most of Its fund-raising. The collection ranges from photographs and newspaper clippings to articles of clothing. The offices are located near the entrance and there i s a video security system, but there is no regular guide or docent to greet visitors and show them around. The Staff Director The director of Specialty Museum i s a middle-aged man who has occupied his present position for eight years.  His background includes  "lots of business training" and extensive public relations training and experience, but no museum training.  He is responsible to a Board of  Trustees which appoints and pays museum staff. Administrative Assistant The administrative assistant i s a young woman who has occupied this position for three years. procedures.  Her background i s i n business and office  She also has an Interest i n the museum's specialty. She  took the job as part of what she describes as a " l i f e change." She feels that her job gives her opportunity for being creative and a chance to make "a real contribution." Mus eum Curat or The museum curator i s a young woman who has occupied the position  for one year.  She has [just completed' a bachelor's degree In fine arts,  which included one course i n gallery administration. Trustees From the twelve trustees, who are elected by the specialty association, I selected two.  Many others, who f e l t that the director could speak for  them, gave somewhat brief answers on the questionnaires I submitted. Trustee A Trustee A i s a man who feels that he has no special training for his role.  He i s acknowledged by others (in the museum), as an expert i n  the museum's f i e l d of specialization.  He chaired the committee which  founded the museum and serves on other local voluntary committees. Trustee B Trustee B i s a woman who also feels that she has. no particular training for her role i n the museum, other than her own expertise i n i t s f i e l d and her personal interest.  She has been on the board for three years.' She  also volunteers i n the community and feels that the museum should be an "integral part of a l l historical celebrations." Responsibility Like Pioneer Museum, Specialty Museum has within i t a divergence of opinion with regard to responsibility.  Unlike the members of Pioneer  Museum, who manage to integrate both viewpoints, the members of this museum appear to be unable to bring them into harmony. Promotion and Public Service The director, the administrative assistant, and both, trustees regard their primary duty to be the "promotion" of their particular specialty in the province and the country.  Because they regard their particular  audience as being specialty enthusiasts drawn from a large geographical  area, they do not appear to have the small community orientation that i s evident i n Pioneer Museum. Implicit i n their idea of "promotion" i s the idea of progress.  A l l of these individuals feel that the museum should  expand, and that i t s potential i s virtually unlimited.  As the director  stated: If we have any "hang-ups" i t Is that we don't have tentacles to the far corners of the province. We need a network for gathering information. The two trustees share this expansionist view of the museum's impact and regard themselves as important from a public relations point of view. Both feel that this i s their greatest contribution to the museum. A l l of these individuals place emphasis on "educating"'the)young. What the museum communicates i s social values, particularly ones that contribute to the creation of good citizens.  The director regards this  aspect as a particularly important one: The whole museum i s an inspiration. It carries the message, "Hey, I can go out and do that, too." The director has created an "educational k i t " with, the help of a local teacher.  He travels to various schools, promoting the museum and  introducing i t s specialty. The children then have a f i e l d trip to the museum where they receive a tour of i t s exhibits and film library. The director feels that the museum has a "democratizing influence" on children, giving them a hobby that a l l of them can enjoy regardless of age. Kids today relate to pour specialty]. Therefore we w i l l be open to kids. . . . Grandfather, father or son can relate. . . . We have a product that appeals to the whole family. Another public service that these individuals feel the museum provides i s the processing and storage of information.  The administrative assistant  said that this i s the museum's most Important public service.  The  museum's primary objective, she said, i s . . . to gather information from involved people and pass i t out . . . to the province, not to mention nationally and internationally. The director shares this feeling.  He emphasizes the fact that his  high profile makes him and the museum more accessible to the public. Other guys are more knowledgeable but the public i s aware of me. . . .We're here to share. We're not here to cage i t up and not let anybody look at i t . Like some of the individuals i n Pioneer Museum, these individuals see their responsibility to their public as unlimited.  They consider i t  to be part of their j ob to deal with any need that arises.  This was  the  reason for hiring a museum curator and for introducing museum techniques into their operation.  As the director stated:  We don't have goals. . . . We have a continuous job to do, to f i l l needs and requirements placed on us by the community. These individuals feel that another one of their responsibilities i s to work prudently with the funds given to them by the "taxpayer" and they take pride i n their ability to raise money on their own.  A l l of  them report that their ability to raise funds i n various ways is "outstanding."  As the director expressed i t ,  We believe i n the ripple effect of promotion. make one dollar stretch into two.  We try to  Professional Standards The curator feels that Specialty Museum is not a "museum" i n the s t r i c t sense because i t does not place sufficient emphasis on caring for the artifacts i n i t s possession.  She also feels that she has become an  "outcast" i n the organization because of the stress she places on care of the artifacts:  26 I consider the place to be a museum and I treat everything as an artifact . . . properly accessioned, etc. The curator complains that the other staff members have l i t t l e real appreciation of her job or of museum management i n general.  She illustrates  this point by referring to the museum's nonexistent collection policy. He'll take anything. "Just accession i t , " he says, "then we'll give i t away and you can de-accession i t . " Mhat happens:i f that person comes back and wants to see their picture? . . . I t ' l l come back to me. She reports that the director w i l l frequently arrive with a "vanload" of artifacts for which there i s no room i n the museum's already overcrowded storage f a c i l i t i e s .  He dismisses this as her problem, saying:  "My job i s to get the stuff for you and you take care of i t . If I didn't, you'd have nothing to do." I really don't think he realizes what my job entails. . . . He's asking me to do the impossible. The curator also reports that when the museum i s busy or extra work needs to be done, i t i s the performance of her job that suffers.  She is  often asked to make coffee and do office chores which she feels are not part of her job. He says some days, "The secretary i s too busy, so you can stop what you're doing and fold envelopes." My job i s the sort of job that can wait. The curator also feels that the others regard her job as somewhat easier than i t actually i s , and that they expect her to take on more work than she can handle.  She said, for example, that the director has  calculated that i t should take eleven minutes to catalogue a single artifact and therefore he cannot understand why the work of cataloguing the museum's collection i s not progressing more rapidly. She is aware that her perspective differs from that of the other staff members: If we look i n the same showcase, I ' l l say, "This: i s a 19/tC. jersey, moth-eaten, worn, lanolin on i t , etc." I ' l l talk, about the article and the condition i t ' s i n . But h e ' l l say, "This i s the jersey worn by so-and-so . . . " He's using i t to "promote."  27 Illustration The following is an incident which illustrates: the conflict between the responsibility to promote the specialty, on one hand, and the respons i b i l i t y to maintain what the curator perceives as good museum standards, on the other.  The museum decided to perform a pageant In which a l l of i t s  costumes would be modeled by young student volunteers.  The curator re-  ported that the costumes were too fragile for such- use and attempted to stop the staff from using them. When they Insisted, she selected several of the least damaged ones. The director then put the secretary i n charge of the pageant and of selecting the costumes, telling the curator that she "couldn't handle i t . "  What she has come to understand i s that  The only time I'm important . . . i s when they want a job done. . . . .Otherwise I'm expendable. Concept of Museum Work Staff members have different concepts of the nature of museum work In Specialty Museum, which i n turn have different implications for the relationship of this museum with other museums i n the province. Leadership In fact, the pace of change has been so rapid that the f a i r l y recent "good enough" museum has been l e f t far behind. . . ; so far as the future Is concerned the only certainty is that the pace of change w i l l continue to accelerate. . . . (Canadian Museums Association, 1975, p. 35) The director, the administrative assistant, and both trustees feel that Specialty Museum must take the lead i n establishing new procedures and i n trying new methods. The director reports that most other museums lack expertise i n dealing with the public and that they "don*t really want" the visitors. I don't know what the dictionary defines as a museum. I think of museums as displaying things and saying nothing.  He characterizes other museums as "too individualistic" and "too competitive" because they appear to him to be unable to cooperate with each other.  The feeling may stem partially from the fact that, although  the director has attempted to gain the acceptance of the museum community, he feels that he has been somewhat unsuccessful.  He feels that this  situation could be remedied by the British. Columbia Provincial Museum and the British Columbia Museums''.Association, both of which, should award greater recognition and support to museums on the basis of "merit" and "participation" (attending seminars and workshops). The director feels that his museum i s particularly deserving of recognition and funding because It has wider appeal than most museums. He reckons that his museum i s "more interesting than 'the Museum of Milk Cans'"; i t i s more innovative and more aware of public relations than other museums. He refers to Specialty Museum as a "'yes' museum . . . a museum of the future." The plans of the director, administrative assistant, and trustees include the formation of a network of a l l museums across the country which share the same specialty. This network would provide greater power and influence.  He has already started to implement this plan by travelling  across the country, visiting other specialty museums and inviting them to form such an organization. after a break-in.  He recently installed a security system  Afterward he sent letters to a l l of the other specialty  museums explaining the new system. The administrative assistant feels that the museum exists primarilv as a sideline of the specialty association.  She does not feel that i t  i s as important as the promotion, 'of the specialty i t s e l f and downplays its importance.  Its function according to her i s simply to create  29  "some prestige for the'members."  It i s essentially a "shrine" for the  memorabilia o f the specialty association members: and just another aspect of promotion of the specialty. Cooperation •' arid •' Identification ' In addressing the neophyte, a veteran could point to great progress and to a very promising future i n museum work. (Canadian Museums Association, 1975, p. 14)  ...  The curator has been attempting to build up contacts i n other areas of the community, including among curators, archivists, and other professionals whom she feels she may c a l l upon for advice.  She feels that  her efforts have largely been unsuccessful because the director insists on signing a l l letters and handling a l l relations with, other museums himself. The curator reports that although the director insists on handling these contacts himself, he frequently f a i l s to do so i n the proper manner. 'For instance, three different groups of conservators have visited the museum at his request.  She reports that he always asks them "to do the  impossible," because he f a i l s to understand the difficulty of conservation techniques.  The worst part, she feels, i s that he w i l l not implement any  of their suggestions.  She feels that the only.reason he asks these busy  individuals to come i s that he wants to t e l l the trustees that he i s taking care of the museum. The curator also complains that, although she i s the one who attends a l l British Columbia Museums Association workshops and meetings, only the director is listed as a voting member. She reports that this lack of recognition of her position has hurt the museum's image i n the eyes of her reference group, the British Columbia Museums Association, and made her ineffective i n her position. Illustration The director asked the curator to obtain some information concerning  30 a local statute.  She wished to consult another worker i n another museum  and, because the director was absent, wrote and signed the letter herself. When the director returned and found out, he became angry.  She says that  He called me into- his office and said, "I cannot believe you went ahead and used your head. You went ahead and did something, without consulting me f i r s t . " I said, "That's: what you pay me for." The curator feels that her work has suffered from a combination of alternating neglect and interference on the part of the director. She says that as a result she.is unable to perform her duties i n a satisfactory way. Spatial Orientation • The director, administrative assistant, and secretary occupy a set of offices near the entrance.  The entire area has glass windows, so that  i t is accessible to the public. The curator at one time occupied an office in this area.  However, the administrative assistant wanted the office, so  the curator was moved across the h a l l , to an office which i s isolated, not only from the rest of the staff, but from the public as well.  This i s  a particularly sore point for the curator because she did not want to move and feels that the move has created an even deeper r i f t between her and the other staff: From that point things have been no good. He takes everything on his side [of the museum]. . . . He said my job required more concentration. I can't believe how isolated I am. Tensions i n Specialty Museum The director, the administrative assistant, and the trustees of Specialty Museum view the museum as a by-product, albeit an important one, of their promotion of their specialty. It is not an end i n i t s e l f to them, nor does i t serve a l l of the "normal" purposes of a museum. Because Its target audience i s a broader one than that of the usual community museum,  31 It does not have the same local community Interests, and roots. Por these Individuals the museum i s more like a business, i n the sense that they view i t as part of an enterprise which must continue to expand and modernize. This view also seems to account i n part for their somewhat negative feelings about other museums which, do not have this same aggressive approach.  The  director, i n particular, appears to view relations with, other museums as public relations, which are i n his domain, rather than i n the domain of the curator. The curator, on the other hand, reports that she "doesn't f i t i n " with the other workers i n Specialty Museum. The relationships which, she has established with a few workers i n other museums have been disrupted by the "meddling" of the director.  What she views as collegia!.•.relation-  ships with other museum workers, the director appears to view as; relations :  with business competitors.  This may account for the director's desire to  control and monitor such contacts.  CHAPTER III. TOWARD PROFESSIONALISM Polarization of Attitudes The two preceding case studies indicate a polarization of attitudes within the two museums concerning the basic orientation of staff members and volunteers i s occurring.  It should be repeated and emphasized that  several of these individuals recognized the necessity of incorporating both viewpoints.  However, i t appears that almost no one staff member  embraces both equally, and that even those who do concede the validity of the opposite perspective tend to remain a l l i e d with one group only.  While  this may be simply a comment on human nature, i t also attests to the divisive power of these differing orientations. Service Those who emphasize service to the community or some other specific group as a major orientation tend to be those who have personal ties with their "audience," either as fellow members of the same local community or, as i n the case of Specialty Museum, as representatives: and promoters of the specialty i t s e l f .  What i s absent from these individuals i s an orientation  toward other museums and toward the museum "corrmunity" i n general.  These  individuals receive their rewards directly from the community or group they serve.  They tend, therefore, to maximize this relationship by de-  ferring to the needs and desires of their audience.  These needs and  desires come ahead of such considerations as standardizing interpretation and protecting the artifacts themselves from harm. Since most of them occupy "public" positions i n any case, the "service" orientation i s an appropriate orientation for them and undoubtedly beneficial to the museum. Because most of them deal with areas.outside of those which, involve direct aspects of control and standardization such as artifact handling and collection policy, i t would be somewhat inappropriate for them to exhibit  33 excessive concern with such matters.  As public representatives of the  museum, they f i l l an essential need, one i n keeping with their objectives. Control and Standardization Those who emphasize the need for control and standardization tend to identify primarily with the professional museum community rather than with local audiences.  In fact, most of them regard museum work as a  career, and their positions i n a particular museum more as a result of circumstance than of having an orientation toward a specific museum. Their concern with standardization and control i s attached to an idea of "proper" or uniform procedures.  These procedures are derived from the  world of museum "professionals" rather than from the museum or i t s community. Along with this notion of standardization goes the idea of clearly-defined r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s — i n many cases, rather narrowly defined. The curator i n Specialty Museum, for instance, resents such duties as clerical work and coffee making because she regards them as somewhat beneath her. These individuals demonstrate greater concern for the opinions of other museum workers i n other museums than do those who have a predominantly "service" orientation.  This may indicate the beginnings of what one  might c a l l professional consciousness. As professionally-oriented staff members, these individuals are expected by their fellow staff members to be responsible for those areas of the museum which require special training.  Certain aspects of museum  work such as artifact handling, cataloguing, and research are generally considered to be appropriate areas for such staff members. It would be Inappropriate for these individuals to abandon their concern with standards in these areas and to assume completely the service orientation of those  individuals who are more concerned with the public aspects of the museum. Given also that these individuals are inevitably concerned with their status among other museum professionals, i t would be somewhat unrealistic to expect them to jeopardize their standing by completely abandoning the idea of control and standardization. The Current Focus of the Literature Preserving the Mythical Past Jean Cannizzo,.author of "Historical Myths and Mythical Histories: The View from the Small Museum" (1979) and co-author of Community i n Transition:  A Report on Training Needs and Opportunities i n British  Columbia Museums and Galleries (Cannizzo & Luna, 1 9 8 0 ) , focuses attention on the special nature of the small museum, as opposed to i t s larger counterpart.  History for the small museum represents an idealized past  whose function i s to provide a certain moral orientation and a set of values for people struggling to live i n "the culturless [sic] cosmopolitanism of the contemporary urban environment" (Cannizzo, 1979, p. 4). The most important characteristic of this type of history i s that i t i s embodied i n certain individuals old enough to remember i t . The historical period most often displayed begins about 1890 and ends during the inter-war years, i.e., i t i s a period which f a l l s within living memory, and, indeed history i s conceptualized as experience. The best historians are those who have livekfl i t and there i s very l i t t l e room for vicarious visions and interpretations of that kind experienced by academics. (Cannizzo, 1979, p. 2). This "personal" orientation toward the past as embodied i n certain individuals extends to the people who work i n small museums, according' to Cannizzo.  No training program can create such an orientation because  "You can't learn to be a museum person" (Cannizzo & Luna, 1980, p. 24). In fact, such individuals now working i n small museums reported to  35  Cannizzo that the effects of training are, i n their eyes, largely negative: While declining to specify a precise self-identity, they are very articulate i n delineating the detrimental aspects of "academic" training and defining the negative attributes thus acquired by "professionals"; "a history specialist can't administrate." "a [sic] person i n a museum for ten years i s as professional as someone who walks out of university with no experience at a l l . . . the professionals w i l l be shocked by the type of person who i s really qualified or suitable to run a small museum." (Cannizzo & Luna, 1980, p. 26) In addition to this negative characterization of "professionals," local museum staff members l i s t "a knack for working with people" (Cannizzo & Luna, 1980, p. 25) as the most Important attribute of any worker i n a small museum, thus creating a definition of small museum work which effectively excludes from the enterprise those with professional orientations toward standardization and control.  Their pronounced emphasis  on the service orientation of museum work constitutes a denial of the possibility that those who regard themselves as professionals can make any meaningful contribution to the small museum. Mario Luna, her co-author, devotes several pages plus a complete section to the perceived inadequacies of student interns and to their own unrealistic expectations of museum work. Luna, i n his portion of the 2  report, makes a number of assumptions i n his interpretation of the data. A series of rather unfortunate performance records- compiled by a number of summer placementrjpersonnel at several Institutions during the past year had served to discredit university museums' training, and i t s value, to many more'institutions and staff members than had actually interacted with these "trained museologlsts." I was told repeatedly, and frequently with emphasis, that student Interns were ill-prepared, naive i n the extreme, narrowly trained, insensitive, and not flexible enough In the face of the multiplicity of tasks that comprise the reality of museum or gallery work i n many institutions. Most of a l l , they were said to be self-impressed: they wanted too  He wrongly assumes that a museology degree i s offered at U.B.C.  much, worked too l i t t l e , negatively differentiated between themselves and their "peers" as against non-university trained regularly employed, or contract, local staff. (Cannizzo & Luna, 1980, p. 89) The interesting aspect of this interpretation of the data i s that the "series" consists of the three out of one hundred fifty-four museums whose personnel made complaints on the basis of actual experience with student interns.  The others which expressed negative feelings did so  without having had any real contact. Yet Luna interprets this data as being a major criticism of university museology programmes i n general. He reports that institutions' complaints concerned general competence and most of a l l the attitudes of these student interns.  He then attempts,  through a questionnaire, to ascertain the expectations of students i n courses at the University^of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.  Not surprisingly, he found that museology and gallery adminis-  tration students, for the most part, regard themselves as aspiring professionals, with professional expectations concerning salary and specialized work. The question i s whether university museology courses can be held solely accountable for these attitudes and expectations on the part of students.  Are these courses the only source of "professional" attitudes  and expectations? It may be wrong to affix the blame for the "insensitive" and unrealistic attitudes of these individuals on university museology courses. Another interesting aspect of their study i s that the descriptions of these student interns sound somewhat similar to the description of the professionally-oriented individuals i n the two preceding case studies. The two groups exhibit many of the same characteristics, including narrowness of training, desire for specialized work, and "peer" group  37 identification.  In their complaints about student interns with whom  they have had no contact, the staff members of the museums i n the survey may actually be voicing, apprehension about professionalism i n general. Backgrounds of Professionally-Oriented Individuals in the Two Case Studies It might be useful at this point to summarize once again the back. grounds of the professionally-oriented individuals i n the two case studies. A closer look should reveal whether or not they have acquired their professional values of standardization and control from any single source, such as a university museology course. Pioneer Museum Curator:  three years of university English; one year of arts at the  college level; three-month museum Internship at the British Columbia Provincial Museum; Canadian Museums Association correspondence course; British Columbia Museums Association workshops. Assistant Curator:  college diploma i n anthropology and archeology;  archeological f i e l d school; one British Columbia Provincial Museum seminar. Educational Coordinator:  Bachelor of Arts i n communications; legal  stenographer course; one year of experience i n an art gallery; business experience. Specialty MUseum Curator:  Bachelor of Arts In fine arts; one course i n gallery adminis-  tration; the Canadian Museums Association correspondence course. There i s no apparent uniformity i n the backgrounds of these individuals. While two have, subsequent to being hired, completed the Canadian Museums Association correspondence course, the only real common feature i s post-secondary education.  None received training i n a professional  museum studies programme.  In fact, each one has had surprisingly l i t t l e  actual museological training or experience.  This suggests that their  professional attitudes are not derived primarily from museological training i t s e l f , but from the idea of museum work as a profession, like dentistry or teaching.  I f professional attitudes are the shared character-  i s t i c , and none of these individuals has any university-level museological training, then the shared attitudes must be created and reinforced by some other agency. Creating and Controlling the New Elite In a recent issue of the periodical "Museum Round-Up," the British Columbia Museums Association presented a brief to the provincial government which outlines what the Association feels to be i t s evolving role i n the development of museums In British Columbia: We are certainly s t i l l needed as, advisors: but i n former years our advice centred on the function of the museums themselves and a l l the many facets of that demanding trust. Now there are demands of a different kind. These concern funding, ethics, training, standards, community responsibility, individual accountability, guarding against weak performances, and the genuine concern to try to separate the inspired ideal from the w i l l o' the wisp dream. A formidable responsibility but one which the B.C.M.A. i s i n the best position to assume. (British'Columbia Museums Association, 1981, p. 5) The brief focuses on the issue of increasing the power of the association i n a number of areas.  It also makes several suggestions  concerning funding priorities and c r i t e r i a , one being that the association be given authority i n deciding which museums w i l l receive funding. Another area of potential control i s the standardizing of job descriptions.  The brief suggests that the job descriptions of present  British Columbia Provincial Museum staff members be used as a "benchmark" for assessing training needs. This helps to ensure that only those museums with approved credentials w i l l qualify for funding, and,  39  ultimately, for accreditation. Also, what they refer to as the "upgrading" of "existing levels of expertise" w i l l require that museums hire only professionally qualified candidates; for positions, as they become vacant. The f i n a l and perhaps most important aspect of the brief for the purposes of this paper i s the British Columbia Museums Association's own perceived future role i n the direct governing and regulation of British Columbia museums. We feel the Association Is the only body which i s capable of, and should be policing and monitoring [emphasis mine] the growth of the profession. . . . In order that we may assume an enlarged role i n meeting collective requirements we would hope the provincial government would provide adequate systematic support which would enable the B.C.M.A. to serve the needs common to a l l the members of the B.C. Museum Community. (British Columbia Museums Association, 1981, p. 10) The British Columbia Museums Association (a voluntary association) seeks to exert greater control over the museum community i n the areas of training, funding, job descriptions: (hiring), and quality control.  This  concern with control and standardization.of procedures corresponds closely to the attitudes expressed by the professionally-oriented individuals i n the two case studies. Another publication, Report oh Training Opportunities for Museum Workers i n Canada, written by Martin Segger (1976) for the National Museums of Canada, indicates some awareness of the pressures being exerted on small museums by the growth of professionalism. The emphasis of the National Museum Policy on public accessi b i l i t y has placed almost intolerable burdens on a traditional structure which was previously inward rather than outward oriented. This shift i n priorities has affected internal p o l i t i c a l structures, modes of operation, styles of manager- " ment. . . . There w i l l also have to be attitudinal changes among the older members as museums must now live up to new public expectations. There i s no going back. (Segger, 1976, p. 40) The change i n local museums may indeed be inevitable; for older staff members there i s probably "no going back." However, i t i s not  40 s o l e l y the "public" whose expectations  are bringing about the change.  The Canadian Museums Association, National Museums of Canada, and B r i t i s h Columbia Museums Association, insofar as they promote and encourage the growth of professionalism, are a c t i v e l y contributing t o the "intolerable burdens" being experienced i n l o c a l museums. What Segger r e f e r s t o as the "outward" orientation o f museums means that new s t a f f members are oriented beyond the ijnmediate community t o a new professional peer group.  Like the professionally-oriented individuals  i n the two case studies, t h e i r l o y a l t i e s are directed outside the communities they serve. Segger also suggests that voluntary p r o v i n c i a l associations be given the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r establishing t r a i n i n g needs: In each case, however, there are core organizational structures which d e l i v e r t r a i n i n g t o the community museums and g a l l e r i e s and thus have a r o l e to play i n t r a i n i n g , and, as i t progresses, the democratization and d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n p o l i c y . These associations provide a network of contacts and communication l i n k s through which the e f f e c t s of p o l i c i e s and a c t i v i t i e s can be monitored. (Segger, 1976, p. 38) Segger's report, l i k e those previously mentioned, primarily addresses the question o f how best t o i n s t i t u t e professional control o f l o c a l museums, i n terms of t r a i n i n g and funding. Another p u b l i c a t i o n , Professional Directions f o r Museum Work:' An Analysis of Museum Jobs and Museum Studies Training, written by Lynne Teather (1978) f o r the Canadian Museums Association, attempts to provide standardized  job descriptions f o r museum workers nationwide.  given f o r the perceived need to standardize  The reason  job descriptions i s "pro-  fessionalism." At the annual conference of the Canadian Museums Association i n Kingston, Ontario, i n May 1976, the membership's decision to accept i n p r i n c i p l e the intent t o introduce a category o f professional membership i n the Association put the onus on the  41 CM.A. to define professionalism i n museum work. This meant dealing with questions of standards, certification and accreditation—components of this issue—whether for individuals, training programmes or institutions. However, one problem became increasingly clear: the definition of professional membership depends i n part upon detailed information on museum work, museum workers and training programmes. (Teather, 1978, p. 15) The "Museum Job Profiles" as compiled by Teather divide the responsib i l i t i e s of museum work into nineteen specialized areas.  Each job profile  provides an exhaustive l i s t of items under the headings of "Primary Duties and Responsibilities" and "Various Additional Duties," as well as "Qualifications," both ."official" and "recommended."  The interesting  aspect of this l i s t i s that i n almost every case an undergraduate university degree appears as a minimum o f f i c i a l qualification. In the two case studies presented earlier i n this paper, the only individuals possessing this university background are those i n the professionally-oriented group, a l l of whom have completed university degrees. None of the service-oriented individuals had ccmpleted university degrees. Therefore, the individuals matching most closely the idealized descriptions of Teather's report are those i n the professionally-oriented group. Teather's report, like those of Segger, Luna and Cannizzo, and the British Columbia Museums Association executive, focuses on the need to "create" a museum profession, by standardizing job descriptions and by evaluating existing training programmes as to their perceived effectiveness 9  in creating "professionals." Ultimately, the effect of such standardization and accreditation w i l l be management of local museums, on the basis of "outside" standards. Three Alternative Rat lire s Complete'Profes sionalization The four publications previously discussed are a l l concerned with the  growth and development of professionalism i n local museums. The implications of this trend for the local museum are uniform training programmes, standardized hiring procedures, and regulation of funding by "monitoring" agencies.  Other, less obvious implications are standardized interpreta-  tion of artifacts, and externalized loyalties of professional staff members. This move toward professionalism would mean the growth of an elite group of workers i n different museums, who regard one another as peers. The loyalties of the new professionals would almost certainly tend to be toward their fellows rather than to the specific communities they are hired to serve.  The impetus for the cultivation of these attitudes would  come directly from associations such as the Canadian Museums Association, the British Columbia Museums Association, and the National Museums of Canada. The undermining of the local museum would be caused by the intrusion of "professional" values such as standardization and control into the .traditional "service-oriented" museum structure.  The professionally-  oriented individuals would determine the future trend of museums i n this province.  Looking ahead, these individuals could be regarded as "the  workers of the future."  Such future professionals might be better trained,  but they.would almost certainly possess the same general attitudes as the individuals described i n the two case studies.  This professional  domination would ultimately destroy.the link between local communities and their museums. Continuing Conflict Another possible future for small museums i s that the two orientations would continue to exist i n conflict.  Local British. Columbia museums would  continue to be founded and managed by individuals with local community loyalties.  As these museums grew, they would hire, i n some cases, staff  members with, professional orientations, who would attempt to impose their  professional standards on the museum's operation.  These individuals would  emerge from various training programmes and courses with a firm orientation toward standardization and control of artifacts, interpretation, and so on. . In some cases, the two orientations might create a dynamic situation which would contribute some creativity to a particular museum. In most cases, however, the two orientations would conflict, producing a situation i n which museum workers, both staff and volunteers, find themselves polarized and estranged from one another. Bridging the Gap A third possible future for local British Columbia museums would be the result of consistent and coordinated effort by both service-oriented and professionally-oriented individuals and associations to bridge the gap separating them. The British Columbia Provincial Museum would promote the autonomy of local museums by giving greater recognition to their predominant service orientation and by providing support and encouragement i n addition to advice and workshops.  Since several professionally-oriented students  are involved i n internships at the Provincial Museum each year, this would present an ideal opportunity for this museum to provide a basis for achieving familiarity between these students and local community museums. By exposing a prospective professional to small museum work i n a number of different contexts, a person with some expertise and understanding i n this area could i n s t i l l in that student a. greater appreciation of the community service perspective.  A good internship would include constant  supervision by knowledgeable individuals who would provide some insight and help the student to analyse the situations he or she encounters i n various small museums. Ideally, the student would acquire a greater  44 understanding of the dynamics of small museums. An internship without proper guidance of this type would not be considered a satisfactory introduction to museum work. Associations such as the British Columbia Museums Association and the Canadian Museums Association would recognize and deal with their own orientation toward standardization and control, instead of regarding themselves as representatives and promoters of small museums and their interests.  The British Columbia Museums Association, as a voluntary  association of museums i n the province, would, i n the interests of promoting the autonomy of each local museum, back away from i t s current "policing and monitoring" approach toward i t s membership (and, more importantly, toward those who are not part of i t s membership).  It would  instead act to support each.museum, to encourage itsr.uniqueness, and to preserve i t s community service orientation i n the face of growing professional sentiment.  It could accomplish this by stressing the positive value  of the community service orientation and by attempting to provide an organizational framework for i t s members i n which there i s room for local autonomy as well as for those workers who regard museum work as a profession. It would also strive to i n s t i l l sufficient confidence i n local museum staff members and thus enable them to deal with incoming professionals from a position of strength. The Canadian Museums Association would re-evaluate i t s current trend toward standardization or at the very least review i t s proposed job descriptions.  The assumption that small and large museums are essentially  similar i n nature has already been demonstrated to be a questionable one. Yet the Canadian. Museums Association continues i n i t s attempt to create convenient standardized job descriptions for a l l Canadian museums, almost  a l l of which include university degrees.  It would be preferable for the  Association to spend i t s time and money i n an effort to further illuminate and understand the differences between small and large museums before undertaking such large-scale standardization. University and college museology. and gallery administration programmes would be adjusted to create a longer period of study, including alternating periods of internship (like many present-day engineering programmes). T±ds i s where the British Columbia Museums. Association and the Provincial Museum could contribute by coordinating and helping to supervise such internships, i n conjunction with the academic institutions.  The  essential differences between small and large museums would be conveyed to students, early and often.  The case study, a useful tool i n other  professional courses such as business administration, would be introduced into museological courses to a greater extent.  Through r e a l i s t i c , well-  constructed cases, students would become familiar with the dilemmas facing a l l local museum staff members on a daily basis.  The goal of such courses  would be to produce, not completely trained professionals proficient i n every possible aspect of museum work, but adaptable individuals, who approach the interpersonal problems of small museum work with, a broader analytical perspective. Museological courses i n particular would place more emphasis upon techniques for collecting oral histories.  Students would be encouraged to  view the collection of oral history as an essential part of their training in research and cataloguing.  This would provide professional staff  members with a greater orientation toward the local community, as well as a greater respect for and understanding of i t s mythic past.  Summary The aim of this paper has been to illustrate two different orientations of museum staff and volunteers i n two local museums , and In doing so, to shed some light on the possible future problems; of such, museums. Associations such as the British. Columbia Museums Association and the Canadian Museums Association appear to advocate wholesale professionalizatlon of the small museum through accreditation and standardization of job descriptions.  Segger's  (1976)  report for the National Museums of Canada  suggests that the small museum perspective i s hopelessly outdated and concludes that "There i s no turning back." A l l of these outside agencies are seeking ways to control the growth of museum work i n this province. Their ideas are based on the assumption that there i s no room within the professional perspective to include the traditional service orientation toward the local community.  The fact i s that, due to their own Insistence  on standardization and control, these agencies are themselves posing a threat to the survival of the community-service orientation In the small museum. The only viable alternative i s through..education and support to enable both the aspiring professional and the community representative to integrate their limited perspectives i n a dynamic way. Only such integration w i l l assure the small museum of having a v i t a l and relevant role i n the future.  47 Selected Bibliography British Columbia Museums Association ( 1 9 8 l ) . Secretary. Museum'Round-Up, 8 l , 5-10.  Brief to the Provincial  Burcaw, G. E l l i s (1975). Introduction to Museum Work. Nashville: Association for State and Local History. Canadian Museums Association (1969). Basle Museum Management. Ottawa: Canadian Museums Association [Reprinted 1975]. Cannizzo, Jean (1979). Historical Myths and Mythical Histories: The View from the Small Museum. Paper presented at the Canadian Ethnological Society Meeting, Banff, Alberta, February 21-25. Cannizzo, Jean, and Luna, Mario (1980).. Community In Transition: A Report oh Training Needs arid Opportunities i n British. Columbia Museums arid Galleries. Victoria: British Columbia Museums Association. Douglas, Mary (1970). Natural Symbols: Explorations In Cosmology. New York: Random House (Vintage Books edition, 1973). International Council of Museums (1980). Museological Science: or Just Practical Museum Work? Mu Wop, Museological Working Papers: A Debate Journal on Fundamental Museological Problems, 1 [Stockholm]. Osgood, Cornelius (1979). Anthropology In Museums of Canada and the United States-. '[Milwaukee, Wisconsin:] Board of Trustees, Milwaukee Public Museum. Segger, Martin (1976). Report on Training Opportunities for Museum Workers i n Canada. Report prepared for Museum Assistance Programmes, National Programmes Branch, National Museums of Canada. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. Soby, Trudy (1979). A Study of the Training Needs of Museum Personnel In Alberta. Report prepared for Alberta Museums Association. (Mimeographed.) Teather, Lynne (1978). Professional Directions for Museum Work i n Canada: An Analysis of Museum Jobs and Museum Studies Training Curricula. Report to the Training Committee of the Canadian Museums Association. Ottawa: Canadian Museums Association.  48 Appendix Questions Used i n Discussions With Informants 1.  What position do you hold here, and how long have you held i t ?  2.  Did you take any special training for your job here? please describe i t .  3.  What attracted you to this particular museum?  4.  What kind of role does this museum play i n local festivals or other celebrations?  5.  Do people i n the community seek you out personally to help with festivals or publications concerning local-history? I f so, please give examples.  6.  Do you ever volunteer to do such work?  7.  What kind of role do you.personally think that a museum should take i n local celebrations about the past?  8.  What type of policy does this museum have with regard to building and maintaining rapport with the local community?  9.  With, which local amateur experts do you work or consult often?  10.  Are these people generally donors as well?  11.  In what areas of the museum or i t s functioning do other people i n the community regard you as an expert?  12.  What i s your personal definition of "heritage" as i t applies to your museum?  I f so,  I f so, please give examples.  


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