I have been working at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco full-time
The de Young has become a world class museum. It has more visitors annually than the Getty, LACMA, the Art Institute of Chicago or any other museum west of New York or DC. It gets world class exhibitions and you will see the best art on the West Coast. Sorry, SFMoMA doesn't compete, really. It is one of the biggest players in the museum world in the US, and partners with museums like the Louvre, d'Orsay and Tate. If you like Art - it's at the de Young or Legion, either in its encyclopedic collection or its varied traveling exhibitions. Working here gets you Art and depending on which department you work for you can get astonishing close to it. The people who work here all share that love of Art and you will find some of the most interesting colleagues you'll ever meet - but that's the case of most museum staff everywhere. You'll also find some of the most ego-bound, arrogant jerks you'll ever meet, but that too is the Art world and fortunately that's the exception not the rule. Your co-workers and the Art will keep you here, but ....
Look, a lot of people have complained here about a lot of things: Salaries - monetary compensation in the arts suck. If you want to make a decent living be an accountant or learn to code. Depending on what you do at the FAMSF you might be getting screwed or just getting by. Some of the top professional staff are getting paid well but those folks are only a few. If you want to whine about it you should compare what the Met pays in NYC! Or work at Bonham's or one of the downtown galleries. The pay at FAMSF is ok for the Arts and better than most museums, but that's not saying much. Don't expect high entry-level salaries. If you really want to make a living in the Arts, make sure you marry well - that's no joke. Advancement - I've seen a lot of young people who think they're going to be the Assistant Director in two years. Or an assistant curator of American Art by working as an audio tour handler with an NYU art history degree. If you want to be a curator it's probably not a good idea to be working as a public service aide, except to help pay for your PhD. And even then it's probably better to be an unpaid intern. You won't get there from here. Or here from there. Morale - it's bad. But every museum where I've worked is the same. That's what happens when you get a lot of very bright, very ambitious people together in one place. There's a lot of back stabbing, in-fighting, generally uncivil behavior. Like Congress or City Hall. You think it's any better there? Yes some staff have it better than others, some people are more "connected". Hey that's life - it isn't fair. Some managers are incompetent - that's life too - I've worked on the private side and I've seen plenty of incompetence in both high and low places. Don't work for FAMSF if you think you'll get by with your good looks. You'll put in your dues. It takes time for staff who are always looking behind them to warm up to you. If you want special treatment, come to the museum with some real credentials. Staff will respect you if you have some substance to back up your BS. But that doesn't mean they'll like you, or even give two seconds thought to You, except what You can do for them. If you don't have the credentials, use FAMSF to build your resume. It's got a world wide reputation. And don't stay long enough to start whining about how "unfair" everything is. If you want to work in the real Art world and not some fantasy Art world of a 20-year-old debutant - this is it. It can get pretty ugly so develop a thick skin cause that's the Art world.
Advice to Management
Better shows = more visitors = more revenue = more funding = happier employees The exhibitions have been lackluster this year.
I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA) in September 2015.
Interview process was poor. Museum contact started the call by saying she had limited time and requested that answers to questions be kept as succinct as possible. I've interviewed candidates for years in my previous role and only found quality candidates by spending far longer than 10-15 minutes getting to know them. If pressed for time, reschedule the interview for a time that works better instead of short changing the candidate--it only hurts your efforts to find a good match if you don't. In my opinion the focus of the interview was much too narrow--questions about experience with very specific tasks instead of exploring bigger picture, why candidate would be a good fit for the management role, what differentiates them from other candidates, etc. This tends to happen when a junior staff member is tasked with interviewing candidates and reflects on the organization more so than the contact. Perhaps it was difficult for me since I am more seasoned, so the simplistic questioning left me a bit baffled as it covered about 5% of what I had to offer to the position. Tried to keep an open mind about this place despite the negative Glassdoor reviews. But after the interview never heard back from them, not even to let me know they chose another candidate. Ultimately this was for the best, as after speaking with the contact I'd be working with I got the sense it wouldn't be a good fit for either of us.
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