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Museum Director Job Description

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Museum directors are responsible for the entire look, feel and appeal of the facility they lead. They influence the programs and services offered to the public; the thoroughly researched and intricately designed exhibits; and maintenance and upkeep activities. Smaller museums may employ a director-curator, but larger museums tend to have curators for various departments and a director who oversees them. Directors plan, develop, coordinate and implement all of the museum's activities, including the public relations, marketing and promotional aspects.

Education and Experience

Museum directors typically need a minimum of a master's degree in museum or business administration, history, museum studies or a related field. Most employers require candidates to have at least three years of experience in a supervisory role, grant writing and fundraising. They must excel in public speaking, problem-solving and providing customer service. In addition, they must be able to lift and carry up to 15 pounds, walk, stand and distinguish color.

Operation and Administration

Museum directors mold their facility's focus from the ground up by selecting items to display, preparing exhibits, designing programming, selling publications, and coordinating special events and speakers. Working alongside staff members, they ensure that operations run smoothly and successfully. Directors manage employees and volunteers, including curators or the curator of collections; provide education programs to the community; and regularly conduct historical and related research.

Budgets and Extras

Museum directors handle purchasing, budgeting, facilities management and other financial operations, such as identifying, obtaining and safeguarding items specific to the museum's collections. In smaller museums, directors may preserve, catalog and document each collection, while in larger facilities, directors determine the maintenance program for organizing collections. Additional duties vary based on the museum. For example, the Maine State Museum consists of a museum library, which the director is in charge of operating and supervising.

Income and Outlook

Directors of large museums may be promoted from positions as curators. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, the top positions are highly sought after and competitive. The national average salary of museum directors was $46,154 per year, as of July 2014, according to CareerBuilder. The BLS notes that museums and archives may be effected by funding cutbacks during periods of tight budgets and recessions, which may reduce the demand for museum workers.


Based in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Megan Torrance left her position as the general manager for five Subway restaurants to focus on her passion for writing. Torrance specializes in creating content for career-oriented, motivated individuals and small business owners. Her work has been published on such sites as Chron, GlobalPost and eHow.

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