How to score a museum job in NYC?

Have you always been drawn by the idea of spending your workdays surrounded by fabulous works of art? How wonderful and soothing would it be to pass your working hours in contact with fine arts. If you dream of such a possibility, there is a way to fulfill your dream. Apply for a museum job in NYC. Obtaining a job in a museum is a wish come true for every true art connoisseur. And if you live and work in New York City, you are one lucky art connoisseur.

A girl looking at pieces of art displayed on a gallery wall.
If you’re a true art connoisseur living in New York, there is a number of opportunities ahead of you

No other city in the US can boast such a vibrant and rich art scene as NYC. But how to score a museum job in NYC? With such a competitive market, it is difficult to get a chance. Find out what you need to do in order to get a chance to be a part of the astonishing NYC art world.

Complete an appropriate degree program

Your university qualifications are not of paramount importance if you are looking into all kinds of positions in a museum. However, if you wish to become a curator or gradually climb the ladder, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in some of the fields that allow you to gain broad education in relation to art. Preferably, you should obtain a master’s degree in some of the following areas of study:

  • art
  • history
  • archaeology
  • museum studies

However, keep in mind that there are various postings you can apply for in a museum. There is fundraising, marketing, collections and facility management etc. If you are not into fine art moving and management, finances could be a field of interest to you. There is a number of opportunities. You don’t have to be formally educated within art fields to score a museum job in NYC.

Volunteering is the best way to a museum job in NYC

The most promising way to a museum job is volunteering and internship. All museums require some sort of experience before they employ new staff and there is absolutely no better way to gain experience. Yes, you’ll work for free and there are disadvantages to consider, but the experience and social interactions with the museum staff will prove to be priceless. You will be able to learn important lessons not only on art per se, but on the way a museum functions as an institution. It’s not all about exhibiting quality pieces. You are not merely trying to become an art handler. There is a lot of management and marketing involved, and the only way to get a picture of your prospective job is to look inside.

Choose a strategic location for job hunting

One of the disadvantages to consider when you’re a museum intern in NYC is your location and transport to work. If you’re not a New Yorker already, moving to Brooklyn would be highly recommendable. Brooklyn is a perfect strategic location for museum job hunting. The local art scene is constantly growing and you can easily commute to the nearby Manhattan. Anywhere you turn, Brooklyn is the perfect place.

Connect to your potential colleagues

If you wish to score a museum job in NYC, you need to be both better and wiser than others who share the same goal. First and foremost, you should always strive to perform your job the best way you can. Don’t worry if you make some mistakes on the way. Mistakes are a part of the learning process.

Two people shaking hands in agreement about a museum job in NYC.
Connect to your potential colleagues

However, more often than not, this is not enough. You need to relate to your colleagues in order to build some sort of friendly relationship with them. If you succeed in obtaining a museum job, you will most probably spend 40 hours a week with your co-workers. If they accept you from the start, it will be far easier for you to communicate with them, the subject being a business or personal life. When you’re a newcomer, you need some support. Stay in touch, invite them for a coffee or simply keep an open mind to their stories and ideas.

Build your personal skills

In addition to experience, employers seek a candidate with personal skills that fit a museum job requirements. Curiosity and enthusiasm are just some of them. As we already mentioned, this kind of work demands a lot of management abilities as well. It’s not all about work exhibiting or art handling. The focus is on the people who come to the museum to learn and enjoy.

A museum full of visitors looking around.
Your work is not all about art handling – it’s about people

You need to be customer oriented, polite and knowledgeable at the same time. As for physical work of art handling, there are specialized companies dealing with this kind of work. Luckily, some of the best Brooklyn movers and art handlers are just around the corner. Your job is a whole different story.

Attend workshops and learn in advance

Whether your goal is to apply for an internship or directly look for vacancies in NYC museums, you need to gain some skills and knowledge in advance. Stay tuned and learn whenever an opportunity arises. The Museum Association of New York regularly organizes workshops and advertises job openings in galleries and museums all across New York. Broad knowledge and education will help you gain confidence, which is also very important for any job in the public eye. You never know which kind of work may eventually turn into a career path. There is a number of duties you may be tasked with, from exhibition designing to art acquisition and curation. Prepare in time, have some patience and apply again and again. You never know when you’ll score a museum job in NYC!