Peter van Mensch
Towards a methodology of museology
(PhD thesis, University of Zagreb 1992)

Professionalism and museology

The discussion about the identity of museology as academic discipline is connected with the discussion about the identity of the museum profession. A whole range of practitioners in different fields has succeeded in achieving professional recognition in the course of time. For the members of these groups the reward has often justified the struggle. "In an open society, professionalism has the power to confer upon its practitioners some of that same elevated prestige that might elsewhere be obtained only by the accumulation of wealth or through aristocratic birth" (Weil 1988: 30). Does this apply to museum work as well?

While the discussion in Europe seems to focus on whether museology should be considered a true academic discipline, museum workers in the United States have concentrated on the professional aspect. In this discussion the relevant question is not whether museology is a scientific discipline, but whether museum work is a profession [note 1]. According to Mariner (1972) US museum workers are striving after professional status in order to obtain autonomy and authority as professionals. The lack of autonomy and authority seems to be the result of the very structure of American museums. The inclusion of the complementary organisation in the museum structure (i.e. a board of trustees), and the delegation of final authority to this complementary organisation rather than the core organisation (i.e. the professional staff), limits the autonomy of the latter. A strong profession would be able to counterbalance the power of the trustees.

Despite the apparent differences between Europe and North America, the discussion on professionalism is very much connected with the development of museology as academic discipline. It went through the same stages, described as first and second museum revolution.

The first 'museum revolution' culminated, among others, in the code of ethics adopted by the American Association of Museums in 1925. This code was entitled 'Code of Ethics for Museum Workers'. However, it did not use the term 'professional' nor did it speak of a museum profession. Nevertheless, already in 1917 a committee on museum studies, established by the AAM concluded: "It seems to this committee that museum work should be looked upon as a profession" (Glaser 1987). Obviously, this view was not yet generally accepted. A new code was written in 1978. Unlike the previous one, it uses the words 'profession' and 'professional' almost to redundancy. Gradually, opinions as to the status of museum work seems to have changed. This change seems to be linked to the renewed discussion on the profile of museums and museum work during the 1960s and 1970s ('second museum revolution').

Is there a museum profession?

After World War II Parr was one of the first to raise the question: "Is there a museum profession?". In an article, written for Curator in 1960, Parr came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as one museum profession (Parr 1960). In the same year, however, Daifuku wrote in the UNESCO handbook The organisation of museums: "the idea that museum work is a profession has gradually become widespread" (Daifuku 1960). It is clear that the accumulation of knowledge and experience has contributed to the quality of museum work. But, does professionalisation imply a better definition of the profession?

Whereas during the ICOM General Conferences of 1965 (on training) and 1968 (on research) the term 'museum profession' was used, it exclusively referred to the curator as university trained subject-matter specialist. The paradox is that current professionalisation tendencies lead to further diversification of museum work. This is considered one of the main drawbacks in defining a museum profession. professionalisation leads logically to specialisation. This development can be described as a gradual move from a simple to a complex organisational structure. As the scientific notion of the museum grew from earlier collecting trends, there was accordingly a growing association of curatorship with research or subject expertise. The specialisation in scholarship paralleled the growing concentration of collections and was increasingly reflected in organisational subdivisions (Teather 1990). As the organisation continues to grow, the museological tasks become separate and distinct. A rational analysis of the museological activities leads to division of labour. The organisation of the larger museums thus shows a complicated subdivision based on functional area as well as subject matter specialisation. Diamond describes this process as the branching off of specialist support sections (Diamond in Thompson ed. 1984).

During the 1960s and 1970s expanding museums hired ever-increasing numbers of specialists ('the new professions' [note 2]). Cossons showed that at present there are, generally speaking, more curators in medium to large sized English museums than there were in the 1960s. But, while in the early '60s they represented 80-90 % of the professional staff, they now make up 40 % only, the remaining 60 % being those 'new professionals' (Cossons in Boylan ed. 1992: 140). The new specialist support sections are supposed to make life simpler for the curator by removing whole areas of activity from his field of responsibility. At the same time however the branching off means a form of emancipation of the tasks concerned, and the curator might experience this development as eroding the comprehensiveness of his function. It became less clear what is the main responsibility and the defining profile of the curator.

Expansion, specialisation and professionalisation involved departmentalisation (or 'compartmentalization', Ruddel 1991). New types of functions developed with sharper differentiation of functional sub-systems and with a high degree of self-containment. Efficient partitioning became formalised into a rigid structure of functional departments. This trend led to discord among the personnel, not in the least among curators. Curators tend to be isolated in research divisions, removed from collections and other core functions like public programs, publications and marketing (Ruddel 1991). This problem was taken up in a special issue of Museums Journal (vol. 92, 1992, 10). Distinction was made between specialist and non-specialist curators, i.e. those with and those without thorough knowledge of the subject-matter field. One anonymous author stated that "to place non-specialists in charge of museum collections can be a recipe for disaster". The author referred to the current tendency to replace specialist scholar-curators by non-specialist new professionals who "are not required to hold qualifications in specialised disciplines, but rather join the museum service following a one-year course in arts administration or 'museology' [sic]".

The combination of specialisation, professionalisation and departmentalisation is fertile ground for interdepartmental conflicts. Differences in professional backgrounds produce different cognitive and emotional orientations. This was clearly apparent in a series of much discussed battles over territory between curators and other specialists. The first 'battle' for 'boundary maintenance' was fought between curators and administrators. The growing influence of administrators in US museums was discussed and rejected by Washburn in a polemic article in Curator (Washburn 1967). During the 1970s the growing emphasis on education and the influx of a large number of educators, gave rise to a new series of conflicts (Leavitt & O'Toole 1985; Locke in Thompson ed. 1984; Fernhout in Van Mensch ed. 1989). Finally, the increased professionalisation of collections management brought about conflicts of competence between curators and registrars. [note 3]

In the course of the 1980s a new development adds to the problem. In view of the explosive increase of overhead costs, museums increasingly make use of external specialists, consultants. This 'external specialisation' usually starts with catering and the operation of shops, but quickly includes financial and management services, marketing and events organisation, and 'even' extents to curatorial work, including registration, collection oriented research (preparing catalogues) as well as exhibition-oriented research.

Many authors believe that there can be no such thing as one museum profession. They argue that within the museum there is a range of professions, each with is own set of skills and methods and its own scholarly frame of reference. This dilemma is illustrated by the English and French versions of the aims of the Canadian Museums Association. Whereas the English text speaks of "individuals working in the museum professions", the French version mentions "les professionels travaillant dans le domaine". In afore mentioned article of 1960, Parr suggests to speak of 'a federation of professions' in stead of a single museum profession. He believes that any attempt to define the profession based on the nature of the work would be artificial and doomed to failure. Washburn goes even further: "The idea of a museum profession exists as a vision in the eyes of those seeking to create a new profession within a jurisdiction where other professions formerly held sway. It is using administrative prerogatives to diminish the role of those other professions, in some cases casting them entirely out of the museum world" (Washburn 1985) [note 4]. Significantly, both points of view have also been used to criticise museology as emerging new discipline.


Most authors writing on the subject, refer to the work of sociologists on professionalisation. Many different definitions are proposed and consequently many different criteria are used to conclude whether museum work is to be considered a profession rather than a mere occupation. Most definitions contain the same elements as the definition of profession given in Webster's Third New International Dictionary: "A calling requiring specialised knowledge and often long and intensive preparation, including instruction in skills and methods as well as in the scientific, historical, or scholarly principles underlying such skills and methods, maintaining by force of organisation or concerted opinion high standards of achievement and conduct, and committing its members to continued study and to a kind of work which has for its prime purpose the rendering of a public service".

On the basis of an analysis of sociological literature on professionalism Mariner gives six criteria for professional status, which are in fact exactly the same as given in Webster's definition (Mariner 1972): (1) a cultural tradition which is the basis of the knowledge and expertise of the occupation; (2) formal, academically-based technical training and/or apprenticeship which insures mastery of the cultural tradition and any skills derived from that tradition and necessary to the occupation; (3) institutionalised modes for insuring competency and governing the practice of the profession, including a code of ethics; (4) the development of a professional social structure and culture - the growth of professional associations pertaining to the occupation with a system of communication and publications; (5) exclusive jurisdiction over the applications of the occupational knowledge and expertise; (6) public validation of the right of the occupation to sole jurisdiction and of the values relating to the cultural tradition of the occupation.

There is a substantial cultural tradition of museum work, but the field functions as if there is none (Teather 1990: 25). This is reflected in the way Kenneth Hudson discusses three requirements that, according to him, have to be met for an occupation to be considered a profession: (a) entry to it must be permitted only to those who have proven to have received a satisfactory standard of training; (b) membership must be conditional on observing certain conditions of behaviour and competence; and (c) removal from the register of anyone judged unfit to practice must be under the direct control of the professional body itself (Hudson 1989). Hudson mentions the self-government of the profession as the main reason why he opposes the concept of museum work as a profession: "All professions are, to greater or lesser extent, conspiracies against the general public [note 5]. (...) Professional training can often corrupt, warp and discourage potentially good people. Every profession has its theology and its own ways with heretics. I personally mistrust all theologies". In a equally critical article August expresses the same concern: "So that the profession can be autonomous, the individual professional may give up his own independence and freedom" (August 1983: 23). It is probably in the same line of thought that Cossons describes himself as somebody with a deep suspicion of professions but an overwhelming admiration for professionalism (Cossons in Boylan ed. 1992: 123).

Despite all this, the existence of a museum profession is axiomatic to the International Council of Museums. During the seventh General Conference (New York 1965), which was entirely devoted to the training of museum personnel, the term 'museum profession' was used abundantly. In its Statutes the ICOM defines the museum profession as "all the personnel of museums (...) having received a specialised technical or academic training or possessing an equivalent practical experience, and respecting a fundamental code of professional ethics". This definition hinges on where the work is done, rather than on the nature of the work, as in Webster's definition, but mentions at the same time criteria similar to Webster and Hudson. The relevant points seem to be: specialised knowledge, pre-entry training, professional standards and social responsibility. [note 6]

Specialised knowledge

The keynote of Webster's definition of a profession is 'specialised knowledge' shared by all those who practise that profession. The knowledge that characterises the profession is not only of technical nature, but has also, as the definition rightly says, a theoretical aspect. This is clear from another definition: "a profession is an avocation whose activities are subject to theoretical analysis and modified by theoretical conclusions derived from that analysis" (Whitehead 1933, quoted in Macdonald 1985).

As is shown in preceding chapters there is a growing support for museology as academic discipline which might serve as theoretical frame of reference for the museum profession. Mention has also been made of the reluctance of museum workers to accept such theoretical frame work. This reluctance is part of a vicious circle. Museum workers tend to identify with one of the subject matter disciplines because of the rather weak position of museology, while museology finds it difficult to strengthen its position because museum workers are reluctant to identify themselves with it. This particularly concerns scholar-curators. Relatively few curators of the larger institutes consider themselves part of the museum community. They publish in research journals specific to their disciplines, they attend discipline specific conferences and they interact primarily with colleagues in their own disiciplines [note 7]. Significantly, the strongest supporters of museology as academic discipline are found among those in charge of museum training programmes.

It has been suggested to distinguish between museologists and researchers as two kinds of museum workers (Gluzinski 1983) [note 8]. The museologist is considered either as specialist in the field of collections management and museum communication, or as generalist involved with policy making. The distinction between museologists and researchers presupposes a concept of museology that makes it possible to distinguish it from subject-matter disciplines. The lack of some sort of consensus about the theory of museology and the lack of any theoretically based museological methodology has as yet not been a favourable condition for such distinction. This is shown dramatically by Maria de Lourdes Horta, graduated as 'pure' museologist: "We were not historians, or art-historians working in museums, neither anthropologists or zoologists working in museums, nor archaeologists or palaeontologists in museum work. Pure 'museologists'. What were we, by all means, this large group of very good practitioners of some varied museum technical skills learned at the university and through daily practice, having as subject for our discussions and professional meetings an area of exploration limited strictly by the walls of our institutions and by the time-length taken by an object, from its arrival at the museum's desk until its arrangement in a storage shelf or exhibition showcase? (...) We had to find out what we were, what for, for which reasons ... we had to find a need for museology, to justify ourselves as specific professionals, among all other different specialists in the cultural field, against all the critics made by these 'specialists', that would claim museology could not be a science but rather simply a diversity of technical skills, specific to museum's care. And they could well be right, we must admit, considering our academic training at the university ... the feeling of a lack of theory, of basic principles and of a philosophy for museological studies has always been very clear to us. Today museologists are recognised by law as a profession in Brazil, what has not yet happened in most of the countries as far as I know. A battle was won in the professional level. A battle is still to be fought in the conceptual level" (Horta 1987; see also Russio 1989).

Pre-entry training

The separation of tasks provided for specialists with relevant training. The 'specialised technical or academic training' mentioned in the ICOM definition of the profession meant (and still means) in practice primarily knowledge acquired outside museums. The newly appointed staff members were expected to know how to apply their knowledge to serve the aims of the museum, but it is a fact that despite a growing number of museum studies courses the majority of museum workers have never had any formal, specific museum-oriented training. If they have an academic background, they are mainly art historians, historians, anthropologists, zoologists, etc. They usually learn about museum work by working in museums or, at most, through a subsidiary course at the university. Apart from a few exceptions, basic knowledge in the field of museums is not required for entering the museum profession. Besides, a degree or diploma in 'curatorship' does not exist as opposed to the other specialists who have their own recognised (be it usually not-museological) degrees or diplomas. The result is a fragmented profession in a departmentalised museum. "It is quite common in such organisations [i.e. major museums, PvM] to find education and public relations officers, designers, etc. being encouraged to take basic or even advanced courses in history, art history or any one of the museum's human and natural sciences. This is done to improve their understanding and interpretative abilities. And it usually works. But it is discouraging to note that the curators of these same institutions are not encouraged to take basic training courses in education, journalism or design appreciation, even though they are normally the ones who give approval to the educational program, the press release and the exhibit design" noted Barbara Tyler (Tyler 1984: 25).

In a 1984 round-table discussion about professional development some Canadian museum directors indicated reluctance to hire graduates from museum studies courses because their lack of practical experience and an over-generalistic training (Cameron et al. 1984). This attitude reflects the one expressed by an American museum director in the early 20th century: "I do believe a curator is born and not made. I do not believe you can train a man [sic] to be a curator. He is the result of the combination of natural ability and circumstances" (quoted in Glaser 1987). The criticism is often heard, and yet the two points mentioned by the Canadian museum directors indicate the unifying potential of training courses. Such courses can (or should) provide a theoretical frame of reference and a multidisciplinary approach as the basis for the museum profession. Of course this also points to the dilemma of professional training as referred to above. Should training be based on museology or should it be subject-matter oriented? In a more recent round-table discussion of Canadian museum directors this point was raised again. "My complaint about museology is that it has placed excessive emphasis on the whole range of museum activities with the exception of the central intellectual responsibility for collections", said one of the participants (Barr in Finley et al. 1986). Nevertheless there is a growing interest in museum studies on the part of both students wanting to work in museums and institutions looking for professional staff. However, both parties are usually aware that while training develops a potential, it is as yet unformed and must be tested in the field (McAllister Johnson 1985).

General museological training goes back to 1882 when the Ecole du Louvre was founded in Paris. During the 1930s and again during the 1960s and 1970s a large number of university courses were created. Most of these courses focused on applied museology and/or museology as application of some subject-matter disciplines. As such most museum studies programmes are supplementary in nature. The student is expected to have completed or to be in the process of completing his academic studies in a specialist field. The museum studies course is primarily practical and covers the history and the work of museums. So the unifying effect of these courses lies mainly in their emphasis on standards of practice. Nonetheless it has been realised that a theoretical framework is needed for such courses. This is usually referred to as museology. There are training centres in various countries where work is based on a museological framework and where the courses are independent rather than supplementary. Thus the transition from the empirically descriptive to the theoretically synthetic stage in museology (Stránský 1980: 71) is also reflected in the content of academic courses.

Professional standards

Stephen Weil denies individual autonomy of the museum worker: "Even if we concede that there already is a museum profession, it is not one which - like medicine or law - can be practised alone. Museum work can only be performed in an organizational setting" (Weil 1988: 33). Kenneth Hudson uses the same argument. Museum workers are employees; doctors and lawyers are in fact independent people (Hudson 1989: 189). Perhaps this is why "maintaining by force of organisation or concerted opinion high standards of achievement" largely takes place at the level of the institute rather than at that of the individual staff member. But, "if there are no standards for museums, there is no professionalism" wrote Heine. "How do we show our community that we are something special? How do we prove that we are deserving of attention, interest and especially money? It will have to be done with work and example: it will not happen with declarations. Neither can we pronounce ourselves a uniform profession: we will have to grow into one" (Heine 1967). In the same line Hugues de Varine-Bohan, as secretary-general of ICOM, stated: "Museums cannot make themselves respected, and the museum profession cannot retain its dignity, unless those who are proud to be part of the latter agree to submit, voluntarily and spontaneously, to principles which are scientifically and morally sound" [note 9].

The national and international organisations in the museological field generally have a dual character. They are at the same time associations of institutes as well as associations of the people who work in these institutes. This situation has led to a lack of clear and effective policies. The only group which has clearly established a professional identity, separate from the institutional framework, are the conservators and restorers. The Definition of the profession which they have developed, provides clear guidelines for assessing the work of the individual practioner [note 10]. But even they do not yet match the definition of a profession given by Hudson.

Guidelines on a individual level usually are rules without engagement. Individual museum workers are not removed from a register nor excluded from the profession. On an institutional level attempts have been made to develop more conditional schemes. The American Association of Museums was the first professional body to develop such a scheme (Swinney ed. 1978). More recently the United Kingdom Museums & Galleries Commission worked out a similar programme [note 11]. In the first case it was the museum profession itself that set the standards, in the last case the initiative was taken by a governmental body, but based on an earlier proposal of the Museums Association.

The accreditation programme of the AAM was formally established in 1970. Its aim was to develop a method for self-evaluation on institutional level. By defining attainable professional standards the AAM hoped to strengthen the profession and at the same time to private and governmental agencies to provide a basis for qualitative judgement in considering requests for contributions, grants and contracts. In February 1988 the Museums & Galleries Commission published its Guidelines for a registration scheme for museums in the United Kingdom. It's aims are similar to the accreditation programme of the AAM. The accreditation and registration schemes in Europe and North America echoes common practice in the former socialist countries, where (almost) all museums were government museums and as such subject to strict legislation. However, whereas in the former socialist countries museums had a clear social purpose, accreditation programmes in the west tend to be based on a reductive approach, emphasising function rather than purpose. "There may ... be great harm when we lose sight of what we do ... for our raison d'etre" (Weil 1988).

Social responsibility

In his book Museums in motion (1979) Edward Alexander wrote: "The paramount essence of the museum profession is a common cause and goals". But which cause, which goals? The question "to whom or what is a professional accountable for his/her actions?" is one of the basic issues of professionality. Most scholars, and early museum workers should be counted among them, hold themselves accountable to such abstract entities as knowledge, science, and the advancement of humankind (Wildesen in Green ed. 1984: 8). "On the whole I believe that up until now we have tended to be accountable to ourselves", wrote Roy Strong (Strong 1988: 20). In this respect museums are considered by some authors as derived from the ruling power structures (Sola in Boylan ed. 1992: 102).

The list of entities to which museum work as a profession is accountable rarely has been formalised and no sets of procedures for selecting among potentially conflicting responsibilities has been developed. In the early days loyalty to employer per se was not an issue. Museum work was not considered a full time vocation [note 12]. It is therefore not surprising that in one of the first codes of ethics (the AAM code of 1925) loyalty is one of the main points. The same code, however, also pointed out the main direction of accountability as it was developed in the course of the second half of the 19th century. The museum and the museum professional should in the first place be accountable to society.

This point has been repeated again and again in publications and at conferences. In his address to the AAM as newly elected president in 1985 R.R. Macdonald paid much attention to the question of professional identity. The identity of the museum profession has to been seen in the light of "the organic relationship between museum work and the society the profession serves" (Macdonald 1985: 8). The profession is defined by a common ethical responsibility: "The museum profession is not defined by its members' workplace. Nor is it defined by criteria established by sociologists. The museum profession exists because, in the pattern of our national experience, the value of the museum workers' contributions to society has caused society to demand competence in the care and presentation of America's cultural and natural heritage. Just as this common wealth is grand and divers, so too is the profession to which society has entrusted it", says Macdonald. The same view is expressed by Neil Cossons in his contribution to the conference 'Museums 2000' (Boylan ed. 1992). Considering the care of collections as core of the professional responsibility, Cossons explains that "if we can demonstrate a renewed confidence in those collections and an ability to do things with them, in terms of looking after them on the one hand and using them in a manner that means something to people on the other, then we do really have an opportunity, as a group of people and a 'profession', to have a future" (Cossons in Boylan ed. 1992: 126). August holds another view: "The more an occupation caters to the general public, the less likely it is to be regarded as a profession" (August 1983: 18). The determining factor to August is the existence of a client, "individuals who need and will seek out the services of the professional". He does not, however, maintain this criterion throughout his paper. At the end he emphasises the social usefulness of professions: "Idealistically professions supply society with specialised services, skills, or facilities that satisfy important needs or desires of that society". So he accepts the fact that "the public recognises the existence of the profession".

This social legitimation of the occupation as a profession is also expressed by Weil: ".. whether the claim of American museum workers to be professionals will be honoured by anyone but themselves must depend not upon their own image of themselves but upon the public's. Is the work they do perceived to be unique? Are they considered competent to be entrusted with the execution of tasks that the public thinks important? (...) in seeking to draw the public's attention to the value of this work, we also stimulate a role museums might play in making better, richer lives for all of us, both as individuals and as members of a community" (Weil 1988: 34).

We can conclude with Weil (and others) that the museum world has failed to define the profession on the basis of museum work itself, preparatory training or ethics. Many museums attach greater importance to specialist knowledge than to a general museological background. Requirements as to a certain level of knowledge tend not to apply in the case of museology. Training in museum studies is not a prerequisite for a museum appointment (in some cases it may even be a disadvantage). Some countries have developed standards of practice, but museum associations rarely have the authority to enforce professional standards on the level of institutes as well as on the level of the individual museum worker. Nonetheless there is a movement towards defining a museum profession. The growing interest in the theory of museology is a sign. Perhaps museology as academic discipline can provide a basis for the integration of museum specialities in the future, so that we will refer to the profession of museology rather than the museum profession [note 13]. The museum worker would then be a museologist sharing with other museologists the same social responsibility based on the same set of scholarly principles. In other words, the museologist is a practitioner in the museum field who's professional identity is derived from a common field of knowledge indicated as museology [note 14]. As such he/she distinguishes him/herself from other practitioners who derive their professional identity from other disciplines.



Alexander, E.P. (1979) Museums in motion. An introduction to the history and functions of museums (Nashville).

August, R.S. (1983) 'So you want to start your own profession! Fable, fulfilment or fallacy?', Museum Studies Journal 1 (2): 16-24.

Boylan, P. ed. (1992) Museums 2000 (London).

Cameron, D. et al. (1984) '"I never hire anyone just because they have a degree in museum studies"', Muse 2 (3): 16-19.

Daifuku, H. (1960) 'Museums and research', in: The organization of museums. Practical advice. Museums and Monuments 9 (Paris) 68-72.

Finley, G. et al. (1986) 'Being a curator is the most impossible profession on earth', Muse 3 (4): 15-18.

Gluzinski, W. (1983) ' ... ', Museologicke sesity (9): 20.

Green, E.L. ed. (1984) Ethics and values in archaeology (New York-London).

Heine, A. (1967) 'Ours a profession?', Museum News 45 (7): 33-34.

Horta, M. (1987) 'Museology and museums: building the road through walking', in: V.Sofka ed., Museology and museums. ICOFOM Study Series 13 (Stockholm) 151-159.

Hudson, K. (1989) 'The flipside of professionalism', Museums Journal 88 (4): 188-190.

Jahn, I. (1979) 'Zur Anwendung quellenkundlicher Forschungsmethoden im Museum. Diskussionsbemerkungen zum Beitrag von Bernd Rüdiger aus der Sicht naturhistorischer Museen', Neue Museumskunde 22 (4): 282-285.

Lamarche, H. (1985) 'Museums for today ... now?', Muse 2 (4): 15-17.

Leavitt, T.W. & D. O'Toole (1985) 'Two views on museum education', Museum News 64 (2): 26-31.

Macdonald, R.R. (1985) 'An agenda of opportunity', Museum News 64 (1): 5-12.

Macdonald, R.R. et al. (1985) 'Exploring professionalism in museums: views from the field', Museum Studies Journal 1 (5): 20-24.

Mariner, D.A. (1972) 'Professionalizing the museum worker', Museum News 50 (8): 14-20.

Matthai, R.A. (1974) 'In quest of professional status', Museum News 52 (7): 10-13.

McAllister Johnson, W. (1985) 'Art curatorship today: a spiritual dead-end?', Muse 3 (3): 18-21.

Mensch, P. van ed. (1989) Professionalising the muses (Amsterdam).

Mensch,P. van & H.Maurits (1982) '"Museologie is de brug tussen de verschillende vakgebieden in de musea"', Museumvisie 6 (1): 4-6.

Parr, A.E. (1960) 'Is there a museum profession?', Curator 3 (2): 101-106.

Parr, A.E. (1963) 'The function of museums: research centres or show places', Curator 6 (1): 20-31.

Pishchulin, J. (1989) 'Museum profession and future of museums', in: V.Sofka ed., Forecasting - a museological tool? ICOFOM Study Series 16 (Stockholm) 207-210.

Ruddel, T. (1991) ' .. ', Muse 9 (2): 2-3.

Russio, W. (1989) 'Museu, museologia, museologos e formacăo', Revista de Museologia 1 (1): 7-11.

Shestack, A. (1978) 'The director: scholar and businessman, educator and lobbyist', Museum News 57 (2): 27-91.

Stránský, Z.Z. (1980) 'Museology as a science', Museologia (15): 33-40.

Strong, R. (1988) 'Scholar or salesman? The curator of the future', Muse 6 (2): 16-20.

Swinney, H.J. ed. (1978) Professional standards for museum accreditation. The handbook of the Accreditation Program of the American Association of Museums (3rd ed.; Washington).

Teather, L. (1990) 'The museum keepers. The Museum Association and the growth of museum professionalism', Museum Management and Curatorship 9 (1): 25-41.

Thompson, J.M.A. ed. (1984) Manual of curatorship (London).

Thompson, M. (1979) Rubbish theory (Oxford).

Tyler, B. (1984) 'Goldfish, piranhas and the three As of professional development', Muse 2 (3): 24-27.

Vries, A.B. de (1967) 'Le personnel des musées', Papers from the seventh General Conference of ICOM (New York) 44-48.

Washburn, W.E. (1967) 'Grandmotherlogy and museology', Curator 10 (1): 43-48.

Washburn, W.E. (1985) 'Professionalizing the Muses', Museum News 64 (2): 18-25, 70-71.

Weil, S. (1988) 'The ongoing pursuit of professional status. The progress of museum work in America', Museum News 67 (2): 30-34.

Weizman, S.M. (1988) 'The changing role of the curator', Muse 6 (1): 41-43.



1 Parr 1960 and 1964; Heine 1967; Washburn 1967 and 1985; Mariner 1972; Matthai 1974; Shestack 1978; August 1983; McAllister Johnson 1985; MacDonald 1985; Weizman 1988; Weil 1988. In 1963 the American Association of Museums organised on occasion of its Annual Meeting a symposium on the museum profession. The papers were published in Curator (vol. 6, no.4). In 1984 the Western Museums Conference (USA) devoted its annual conference (in Sacramento) to professionalism (see Museums Studies Journal 1,1985, 5). The same year the Canadian Museums Association also devoted its conference to professionalism (see Lamarche 1985), which was followed a year later by a special issue of Muse (vol. 3, no. 3) about curatorship. In 1988 another special issue on curatorship was issued (vol. 6, no. 2). In 1985 the American Association of Museums devoted (part of) its annual meeting to the subject, resulting in a special issue of Museum News (vol. 64, no. 2). This issue was preceded by a special issue on the museum profession in 1980 (vol. 58, no. 5) on occasion of AAM's 75th anniversary. There seems to be a five-year cycle, since the first special issue on the museum profession appeared in 1974 (vol. 52, no. 8). >up<

2 In the report of the ICOM General Conference of 1965 the term 'museographer' is used a few times. >up<

3 It would be interesting to analyse these developments with help of René Thom's catastrophe theory. See Thompson 1979, especially Chapter 8. >up<

4 Interestingly, curators tend to refer to the 'new professionals' as 'administrators', disqualifying all specialisms outside the subject matter discipline as administrative. >up<

5 The phrase "All professions are a conspiracy against the laity" is derived from the play The Doctor's Dilemma by George Bernard Shaw. Is has become one of Hudson's main provocations at conferences of museum professionals. >up<

6 Pishchulin (1989) adds social status. This comprises: material and financial security, social prestige, legal and professional protection, a possibility for bringing about "man's research and creative potential and freedom of international contacts". >up<

7 See, for example, McGillivray in Muse 9, 1991, (2): 65. >up<

8 Jahn, on the other hand, states that the museologist must always be subject-matter specialist at the same time (Jahn 1979: 282). The point was also raised during an interview with P.H.Pott, first professor of museology in the Netherlands (Van Mensch & Maurits 1982). Like Gluzinski, Pott distinguised between museum workers and museologists. A museologist, in his view, should be involved with policy making. As such, the museologist could be the director. >up<

9 In ICOM News 23, 1970, (2): 49. >up<

10 Published in ICOM News 39, 1986, (1): 5-6. >up<

11 Museums & Galleries Commission, Guidelines for a registration for museums in the United Kingdom (1988). >up<

12 This was, for example, very clearly stated in the report of the Dutch Rijkscommissie van Advies inzake Reorganisatie van het Museumwezen hier te Lande (1921). The commission suggested the Dutch government to encourage full-time employment of museum directors connected with a reasonable salary and the obligation to be present at the museum all week. See also De Vries 1967. >up<

13 Interestingly, already as far back as 1969 Squires speaks of "a profession called museology" of which the care for preservation seems to be the main core (Squires 1969: 19). >up<

14 Gluzinski (1983) points out the confusion as to terminology. Does the term museology refer to a field of activity of to a science of this field of activity? To Gluzinski museology is a science. Museum work is a practical activity based on various disciplines (among which museology). "An analogy may be drawn here with the work of an engineer who, while building machines, does not practice mechanics, but simply creates structures realizing the laws of mechanics". Following this reasoning a museum worker is not a museologist. Nevertheless, Gluzinski mentions museologists as group of museum workers accomplishing tasks of a specially museum nature, i.e. museum workers who are not involved with subject matter research. >up<