Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Joblessness Results in Wyeth Appreciation

Perhaps I should take heart in the fact that popular culture icons such as the Daily Show and now the Onion feel that museums are worth poking fun at. Perhaps.

But sadly, while sure, it's easy to giggle about being an archivist for the Grateful Dead Archives, it's not a laughing matter that while museums may have seen a rise in attendance this past year, that did not translate into money in the bank--or in the hands of museum employees.

Still, the Onion response to why people were really visiting museums more is funny.

Another funny article about museums--funny in the uh oh, not ha ha way--states that in the next few years curator, conservator and archivist jobs will all be increasing, more so even than most other fields out there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that this prediction is largely based on the rise in museum attendance in past years. Huh. What about the fact that a lot of museum professionals are nearing retirement age? One would assume that that would play a factor as well.

But what the article does not take into consideration is that, while attendance was going up, staff were being laid off and positions vacated through regular attrition were not getting refilled.

So what will the future really hold for museums? A continuation of the upward trend in attendance? Will that trend eventually manifest in real dollars? Will positions continue to sit vacant? Or will the Bureau of Labor Statistics be right and there will suddenly be a long-awaited boom in museum job openings? Only time will tell.