How Young Professionals Can Get Involved in the Museum World

As the millennial generation has grown up and entered the job force, museums have faced a new challenge: coming up with new methods and ideas to get a new generation of visitors through its doors and successfully implementing them.

As the millennial generation has grown up and entered the job force, museums have faced a new challenge: coming up with new methods and ideas to get a new generation of visitors through the doors and successfully implementing them. Museums need not only to introduce their establishments to this new generation but also to ensure that in years to come the millennials become a new generation of donors and supporters. 

It’s not just the museums that benefit from drawing a new generation through their doors; it’s the millennials, too. I have written about how young professionals can benefit from visiting museums. To many young professionals it may seem like something they don’t have time for, but it can be a benefit in numerous ways: it can be a break from the ordinary, expose a young professional to the city’s culture, and expose them to a desired career path in a city’s museums. There are so many great museums and historic sites in the greater Philadelphia area; there’s something for everyone no matter what their interest is, and it is possible to see many of them without draining a person’s finances, be it through volunteering, coupons, taking advantage of pay-as-you-wish or donation-only admission, visiting when the museum or historic site is holding an event and is open for free, or budgeting for a visit. No matter how this goal is achieved, be sure to take the time to enjoy the museum.

Many museums have Young Friends organizations, which allow young people to support the specific organization through methods such as fundraising and volunteering. Typically open to young professions in their twenties, thirties, and forties, there are Young Friends Organizations in museums all up and down the Mid-Atlantic, including a number in the Philadelphia area: the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Young Friends groups host events specifically for their members, which can include cocktail parties, discounts to Young Friends events, and private museum tours, although these benefits may differ between different museums.

Additionally, many museums have started hosting events designed specifically to drive the younger generation through their doors. Some of these are what one might expect from a museum, including presentations, talks, and networking events. Some, though, are parties, dinners, and other events designed specifically to draw young professionals to the organization. Sometimes, Young Friends organizations from different museums will connect to bring an event, such as a presentation or a holiday party, to all of their members.

Young professionals can bring all kinds of benefits to museums, be it via employment, volunteering, or involvement with organizations such as the Young Friends. They bring experiences with new technology and fresh ideas to their organizations, all things that can be used to draw visitors from their generation through a museum’s doors. Millennials know what it is that is going to draw their fellow millennials to something- be it a cause, a museum, or an event- so why wouldn’t a museum want to use that knowledge to draw such visitors through its doors?

Young professionals can benefit from these experiences too. In one of my previous articles, I wrote about this, too. If a young professional is lucky enough to land a position with an awesome organization (or more than one!), they can learn all kinds of lessons and gain experience without as much responsibility- and a paycheck- hanging over their heads. It is from these experiences that young professionals learn that it is okay to ask for help or direction, or even if you have completed a task and are ready to move on to something else, and that it is okay to say no to tasks sometimes. If they already have enough or too much on their plate, are they really going to get that particular task done? And most importantly, a young professional should be sure to enjoy themselves and take the time to learn everything they can! It is both museums and young professionals that benefit from drawing new generations of visitors, patrons, and fundraisers through their doors.

Sarah Fife is a graduate of the College of Saint Elizabeth, where she studied English, history, and journalism, including writing for the school’s newspaper and editing the literary magazine. In addition to blogging, she has worked for various historical sites in the Philadelphia area.