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MUSEUM MANAGEMENT

Essential Competencies

Introduction: There are four career tracks within the Museum Management Program: Collections Manager, Curator, Archivist, and Conservator. While each is a distinct profession in its own right, there is a direct relationship between them all.

Curator: This is the primary professional discipline in the NPS Museum Management Program. The park curator is responsible for the acquisition, documentation, preservation, and use of all collections within the NPS unit or office. Typically, the SSO or center curator will provide technical assistance to field staff in carrying out their responsibilities. Within this track, there are three separate sub-tracks or specializations at the full professional level: program management, exhibit development, and subject matter expert. Typically, the curator will have a masters degree in American studies, anthropology, history, a natural science disciplines, museum studies, museology, or a related field. Experience in addition to education will be necessary at the developmental level. At the full performance level, curators will have additional education and experience in museum management, exhibit development, or their subject matter specialization.

Collections Manager: Collections managers provide front-line management of park collections at parks and centers. While the career path within this track leads from museum technician to collections manager, there are two additional paths that staff in this track may take: to the curator track and conservator track. Occasionally, this path can lead to the archivist track. Typically, at the full performance level, the collections manager will have a masters degree in museum studies, museology, or a related field.

Archivist: Archivists and archives technicians provide specialized expertise in the evaluation, surveying, acquisition, preservation, arrangement, description, research use, and long term management of archival and manuscript collections including audio-visual, electronic, and textual records. Typically, archivists at the entry or developmental level will have a masters degree in library science or history with a specialization in archives management. Further training in archives management is gained through a combination of education and experience. At the full performance level, archivists will have considerable additional experience under the tutelage of another professional. The Society of American Archivists and the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) both formally endorse archival certification and the hiring of certified archivists.

Conservator: Conservators provide specialized expertise in the treatment of museum collections and in preventive conservation. Typically, conservators have graduated from an accredited conservation program. At the full performance level, conservators will have both the academic training and considerable experience in either a broad range of conservation issues or a narrowly focused group of conservation issues. Conservation technicians often come out of the collections manager track, with the potential of moving into conservator positions as additional experience and education are gained.

NPS MUSEUM MANAGEMENT CAREER TRACKS


LEVEL

COLLECTIONS MANAGER TRACK

CURATOR TRACK

ARCHIVIST TRACK

CONSERVATOR

Entry

Museum Tech GS-1016

[Advance to developmental or to entry Curator or to developmental Archives Specialist or Archivist or to entry Conservator]

Curator GS-1015

Archives Tech GS-1421 or Archivist GS-1420

Conservator GS-1001 or Museum Specialist GS-1016

Developmental

Museum Specialist GS-1016 or Registrar GS-1001 or Collections Manager GS-1015

[Advance to Full Performance or to developmental Curator or to developmental Conservator]

Curator GS-1015

Archives Specialist GS-1421 or Archivist GS-1420

Conservator GS-1001 or Museum Specialist GS-1016

Full Performance

Collections Manager GS-1015 or Museum Specialist GS-1016

[Advance to full performance Curator]

Curator (Museum Management) GS-1015 or Curator (SME) GS-1015 or Curator (Exhibits Development) GS-1015

Archivist GS-1420

Conservator GS-1001 or Museum Specialist GS-1016

Following is a list of the competencies and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform in this particular discipline at the Entry, Developmental, and Full Performance levels. The competencies are in boldface print and are followed by a brief definition. The definitions are then followed by a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be effective at each level. The competencies and KSAs of the previous level(s) are also required at the next higher level.

Museum Management - Collections Management Track

Introduction: Collections management staff provide direct, hands-on management of NPS collections. Primary duties are the documentation and preservation of collections. Collections management staff provide access to collections or oversee the incoming and outgoing loans of collections to other units or institutions. At the entry level, these positions are typically found in parks or centers. At the developmental or full professional levels, they are generally only found at centers or parks with large complex collections.

ENTRY LEVEL - Museum Technician (GS-1016)

Description Typically, at this level, the museum technician is involved with front-line collections care and documentation in a park or center, including housekeeping, environmental monitoring, rehousing, and cataloging of collections. The work of entry level collections management staff will be directed by a professional curator or collections manager at a higher grade level.

I. Museology

Assists curator or collections manager in management of museum collection.

Knowledge of history and philosophy of museums; standards and ethics of museum profession; standard museum policies and procedures; and theories and practice of museums.

Knowledge of North American material culture, American history, or natural resources.

Knowledge of the mission and objectives of the museum management program of the NPS.

II. Preservation Law, Philosophy, and Practice

Assists curator and other park staff in management of cultural and natural resources.

Knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

Knowledge of the mission and objectives of the NPS.

Basic knowledge of preservation history and philosophy, including the laws, regulations, standards, and NPS policies and guidelines relating to cultural and natural resource management policies.

III. Research and Inventory

A. Use of Collections

Assists curator in assisting researchers. Assists in development of exhibits.

Knowledge of basic reference techniques and tools. Ability to produce or use finding aids and other access tools to aid researchers.

Knowledge of exhibit development and production.

B. Research

Identifies cultural and natural resource collections. Conducts research into the history and provenance of collections.

Knowledge of research tools, techniques and methods in the area of cultural or natural resource collections.

C. Collections Documentation

Catalogs and inventories museum collections.

Knowledge of museum documentation procedures, including accessioning, cataloging and other recordkeeping.

Knowledge of inventory and other collections accountability principles and techniques.

Knowledge of computerized cataloging and other museum recordkeeping systems and techniques.

1. Computer Skills

Records, manipulates, and analyzes data using standards applicable, personal computers, database management systems, and collections documentation systems.

Skill in operation of personal computers, database management systems and NPS documentation systems at an intermediate level.

IV. Collections Preservation and Protection

Assists curator in preservation and protection of museum collections, including housekeeping, storage, monitoring, etc.

Knowledge of collections preservation principles and techniques (e.g. agents of deterioration, housekeeping techniques, etc.).

Knowledge of environmental and pest monitoring principles and techniques.

Knowledge of basic museum collection storage techniques.

Knowledge of museum collections protection practices and procedures.

V. Program and Project Management

Assists curator in management of park's museum program. Undertakes individual collections management projects.

Ability to work independently.

Ability to plan and implement collections management projects.

VI. Writing and Communications

Assists curator in preparing reports on various aspects of the collection.

Ability to present written correspondence, reports, and recommendations in a clear and concise manner.

DEVELOPMENTAL LEVEL - Museum Specialist (GS-1016); or Registrar (GS-1001); or Collections Manager (GS-1015)

Description: At this level, the collections management staff will oversee all collections documentation and preservation activities, under the direction of a curator or collections manager. Typical assignments will be registrar, overseeing primarily documentation activities for a park or center; museum specialist overseeing collections preservation activities for a park or center; or collections manager overseeing both collections documentation and preservation for a park or center.

I. Museology

Assists curator or collections manager in the implementation of the museum management program. Serves as park collections manager, overseeing documentation and preservation of collections.

Thorough knowledge of principles, practices, and philosophy of the museum profession.

Ability to develop and implement general solutions to specific collections management issues.

Knowledge of NPS standards and procedures for collections management.

II. Preservation Law, Philosophy, and Practice

Assists park staff in management of cultural and natural resources.

Intermediate knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

Knowledge of the origins and development of the preservation movement and of preservation theory, philosophy, and practice, including a working knowledge of the laws, regulations, standards, and NPS policies and guidelines relating to cultural and natural resource management.

Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource inventories and their use in the management of cultural and natural resources.

III. Research and Inventory

A. Collections Use

Assists researchers and park staff to access collections.

Assists in development of exhibits.

Ability to produce finding aids and other access tools to aid researchers.

Working knowledge of exhibit development and production. Ability to review concept plans, specifications and plans for exhibit production.

Knowledge of museum education practices.

B. Research

Conducts or coordinates research into cultural and natural collections, including identification authentication, appraisal, history and provenance of collections.

Thorough working knowledge of research tools, techniques and methods for the documentation of cultural or natural resource collections.

Knowledge of specific types of cultural or natural resource collections. Specialized knowledge of cultural and natural resource collections related to the resources of the park.

C. Collections Documentation

Conducts or oversees accessioning, cataloging, and legal and other documentation of collections.

Thorough knowledge of full range of museum documentation practices and procedures, including registration, cataloging, loans, inventory control, etc.

Good working knowledge of legal standards for documentation of collections.

Ability to develop scopes of work for appraisal, cataloging, and other documentation activities.

Ability to develop and conduct inventory control procedures.

Advanced knowledge of computerized cataloging and other museum recordkeeping systems and techniques.

1. Computer Skills

Manages collection databases and other computer records.

Advanced computer skills, including use of database management systems and NPS collections documentation systems. Ability to manipulate data, design and produce access systems, and evaluate applications for analysis of monitoring data.

Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource computerized inventories and documentation programs.

IV. Collections Preservation and Protection

Assists curator in preservation and protection of museum collections, serving as primary specialist in this area.

Thorough knowledge of collections preservation principles and techniques (e.g. agents of deterioration, housekeeping techniques, etc.).

Ability to develop environmental and pest monitoring plans and to analyze environmental and other monitoring data.

Thorough knowledge of museum collection storage techniques and practices.

Ability to safely pack and ship museum collections.

Ability to recognize objects needing conservation treatment and to recommend and refer treatment to the appropriate facility.

Thorough knowledge of museum protection systems, procedures, and practices.

V. Program Management

Serves as collections management program manager for park.

Knowledge of basic management and supervisory practices, including personnel management policies and procedures, and skill in motivating a professional and technical staff.

Ability to prepare scopes of work for procurement of professional services.

Ability to prepare scopes of work for cooperative agreements to accomplish collections management goals.

VI. Writing and Communication

Provides curator or supervisor with documentation and analysis of collections management issues.

Ability to prepare clear, concise reports documenting and evaluating collections management issues and making recommendations for resolution of issues.

Ability to write analytical documentation on a variety of aspects of the collection.

Ability to critically evaluate studies, planning documents, proposals, and other documents.

VII. Training

Trains collections staff, park staff and others in collections management issues, procedures and techniques.

Ability to train employees in NPS collections management principles, standards and procedures.

Ability to train employees in NPS computerized cataloging program.

Ability to coordinate training courses and workshops.

FULL PERFORMANCE LEVEL - Collections Manager (GS-1015 or 1016)

Description: At the full performance level, the collections manager, under the direction of a full performance curator, will oversee the collections documentation and preservation activities for a park with a large, complex collection and museum management program, or the documentation and preservation of collections at a center.

I. Museology

Assists curator in implementation of museum management program. Serves as park collections manager, overseeing documentation and preservation of collections.

Ability to develop and implement a comprehensive, systematic collections management program.

Mastery of museum management principles and practices, and comprehensive and current knowledge of collections management and information systems.

Demonstrated skill in applying professional knowledge to the development of new policies, procedures, and approaches.

Knowledge of the NPS museum management program, and the laws, policies, and regulations governing its conduct. Thorough knowledge of NPS museum management standards, guidelines and procedures. Knowledge of museum ethical standards.

II. Preservation Law, Philosophy, and Practice

Assists park staff and management in stewardship of cultural and natural resources. Provides curator with evaluation of impacts of collections management solutions on other resources.

Thorough knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

Expertise in the application of historic preservation laws, regulations, policies, and standards in the management of cultural and natural resources.

Ability to recognize the interrelationship of all resource management disciplines such as museum services, archeology, cultural landscapes, building preservation, ethnography, natural resource stewardship, and maintenance, and work within this divisional/disciplinary framework towards the joint accomplishment of cultural and natural resource projects and goals.

III. Research and Inventory

A. Collections Use

Oversees use of collections by researchers. Assists curator in evaluating and implementing exhibits and use of collections in education programs.

Functional knowledge of all natural and cultural resource disciplines represented in NPS museum collections. Ability to integrate collection information management needs into a cohesive multi-disciplinary access system. Comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of museum information management systems in use by the museum profession.

Ability to comprehensively review exhibit plans for collections management issues and to recommend creative, responsible solutions to these issues.

Ability to work creatively with exhibit planning, interpretive planning, and educational programming teams to provide access to and use of collections.

B. Research

Conducts or coordinates research into cultural and natural collections, including identification, authentication, appraisal, and the history and provenance of collections. Excellent working knowledge of research tools, techniques and methods for the documentation of cultural or natural resource collections.

Ability to synthesize sometimes conflicting information from a complex variety of historical evidence.

Thorough knowledge of specific types of cultural or natural resource collections. Specialized knowledge of cultural and natural resource collections related to the resources of the park.

Ability to determine the need for research and develop the scope and objectives of the study.

C. Collections Documentation

Oversees all documentation of collections, including accessioning, cataloging, and legal and other documentation.

Ability to develop a park-wide or center-wide collections documentation program.

Ability to develop loan documentation and tracking procedures and systems.

Ability to develop a comprehensive park-wide collections inventory control program.

Demonstrated ability to plan and conduct complex analyses of, and resolve complex problems related to museum documentation and records management, assuring appropriate coordination, input, and review.

Comprehensive and current knowledge of professional standards and techniques for collections and information management of museum collections.

1. Computer Skills

Manages collections databases and other computer records.

Knowledge of advanced computer skills. Experience in managing the development and operation of large information management systems. Thorough understanding of hardware operating systems and the principles of automated database management systems and applications for use in NPS collections management.

Thorough knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management databases.

IV. Collections Preservation and Protection

Oversees all collections preservation and protection activities.

Ability to develop a comprehensive park-wide or center-wide collection storage plan.

Ability to develop a comprehensive park-wide or center-wide plan for the long-term preservation of the collections.

Ability to develop contracts for conservation surveys, conservation treatment, and other preservation work.

Ability to review planning and other documents to provide comprehensive identification of collections management issues and to recommend solutions.

Ability to develop a comprehensive park-wide collections protection program.

Ability to develop comprehensive housekeeping plans.

Ability to determine the adequacy of environmental conditions, to detect signs of deterioration and wear, to perform as well as supervise routine preservation maintenance of objects, and to recognize conditions that require more extensive conservation treatment.

V. Program Management

Manages an extensive program of collections management activities.

Ability to develop and manage a comprehensive, sustainable, long-term collections management program.

Ability to plan, design, and implement assigned projects independently.

Thorough knowledge of supervisory practices, including personnel management policies and procedures, and skill in motivating a staff of professional and technical staff.

Thorough knowledge of planning and programming activities and of all potential sources of funding for curatorial programs.

Ability to develop contracting documents and cooperative agreements.

Ability to manage contracts and cooperative agreements.

VI. Writing and Communications

Prepares planning documents, survey and valuative reports, and other written documents.

Ability to prepare clear, concise reports documenting and evaluating collections management issues, and making recommendations for resolution of issues.

Ability to write analytical documentation on a variety of aspects of the collection.

Ability to critically evaluate studies, planning documents, proposals, and other documents.

VII. Training

Trains museum staff, other NPS staff, and non-NPS museum staff.

Ability to train employees in NPS curatorial procedures.

Ability to train employees in NPS computerized management procedures.

National Park Service
Training and Development Division
Essential Competencies
musmngt.htm

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