You say you want an evolution …
I just want my museum to be a nice place (to work).
—paraphrasing Winona Ryder in Heathers
I'm Robert J. Weisberg, and Museum Human is the second version of this blog. The first one had just my name, but I thought that was a little self-centered, and, to paraphrase Yoda, need that we do not.
I've been working at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for over 28 years in the Publications and Editorial Department, but this blog, and its views, are entirely mine. I've always tried to mediate between (false) dichotomies—print and digital, editorial and production, content and collection, internal and external, excellence and respect, and so on. This mediation led me into workflow and from there, organizational culture.
So I write about organizational culture and cultural organizations. When I started in a museum I didn't know anything about art, but I knew about technology. I was hired to bring desktop publishing, which was once a thing, to our publications process. I realized pretty quickly that the job was 5% technology and 95% unlicensed psychotherapy. Dealing with people was my job; the tech issues were the details. I've never stopped that view.
I have a few roles: production for labels/didactics, including exhibition label accessibility; archiving and technology; and digital work on the site where we place our entire publication history. I also try to gently make trouble by reaching out to people throughout the organization and field to find ways to connect and collaborate on something new and better.
Museums have an opportunity—and an obligation—to match their stated desire to connect their subject matter (in my institution, art) and people both inside and outside the organization. This has to be reflected in intersectional ways, internally and externally, in all the museum's relationships with all people.
This blog is mostly written on the unceded, historical land shared by the Munsee Lenape, Montauk, Rockaway, and Canarsie peoples, speakers of Huluníixsuwaakan (Munsee), in part as per https://native-land.ca). The author's privilege in being able to write this blog has been made possible through the exploited labor of generations of people brought to this country, the great majority from Africa, to work as slaves, or who came to this land and forced to work in conditions of precarity.
Thank you for reading and being part of this journey.