Tuesday, December 29, 2009

California Science Center sued for canceling a film promoting intelligent design -- latimes.com

An interesting legal battle over a museum's right to protect and serve its mission and the Constitutional right to freedom of speech is heating up in California. The California Science Center in Los Angeles is being sued by the American Freedom Alliance, a self-described think tank promoting "Western values and ideals." The AFA is suing over the museum's cancellation of a scheduled showing of the film "Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record," an intelligent design documentary film attacking darwinian evolution. The AFA alleges that the Science Center violated its constitutional right to free speech by revoking the AFA's rental of the Center's IMAX theater.

It seems that a carefully crafted rental policy outlining the museum's right to refuse rentals to groups or individuals planning educational programs that conflict with the museum's own educational goals or stated mission, and a bit more oversight during the initial stages of the rental process might have avoided the whole legal mess, but perhaps not. There is no doubt that the Intelligent Design camp loves controversy and delights in dragging the evolution "debate" back into the news. The AFA may have planned a media assault on the scientific community even if the film showing went off without a hitch.

In any case, the current legal woes of the California Science Center certainly provide a cautionary tale for the rest of the museum community. It might be time to reconsider policy guidelines and review your rental agreement in light of these latest legal challenges.

Click here to read the article about the lawsuit in the LA Times:
By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
December 29, 2009
Posted using ShareThis

Image of Cambrian trilobite fossil by kevinzim shared via flikr

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chagall exhibit pulled from the Fresno Met

It is tremendously sad when you read a story like this one. On Sunday, the Fresno Metropolitan Museum was forced to close one of its exhibits two weeks early, as a representative of the lending institution reclaimed the artwork off of the gallery walls. The unannounced seizure was due to nonpayment of exhibition rental fees and in hopes of heading off complications from the potential closure of the museum itself.

I cannot imagine how demoralizing this experience was for the museum staff present during the unceremonious removal of the 65 Chagall etchings. It must have been terrible trying to maintain an air of professionalism in light of the embarrassing circumstances that precipitated the reclamation of the exhibit.

Although I do not personally know any of the staff at the Fresno Met, I was contacted by the Museum in the summer of 2008 as their renovation project was drawing nearer to completion. We had a very positive conversation about the forthcoming installation of their new galleries and potential programming to coordinate with their new exhibits. I was disappointed that I could not help them with their project (I was far too pregnant to fly from Ohio to Fresno), because there was so much excitement and energy around the culmination of years spent planning, preparing, and undergoing the renovation. Now, just a little more than a year after the building reopened to the public, things have come to a tragic climax, and it is indeed very sad.

I remember the experience I had seven years ago, working for a museum that was in danger every day of closing its doors for good. Eventually, I was laid off, along with the rest of the professional staff, as only a bare-bones operations crew remained to help the organization limp along until things turned around. Truthfully, that museum is still limping along, but it remains open, and the visitors keep coming. It was incredibly humbling to walk out the door of the organization I had served with such dedication, knowing it was for the last time as a staff member, but the tough times teach us a lot about how to regroup and rally.

I hope the staff at the Fresno Met eventually finds a way to turn this unfortunate experience into a professional positive, because I have no doubt that packing those crates on Sunday afternoon really sucked.

Use this link to find the complete article, which appeared in the Fresno Bee.

Posted at 10:13 PM on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009
By Paula Lloyd / The Fresno Bee

Monday, December 21, 2009

Temporary position in exhibits department at the Rock Hall

Today I heard from my friend Christie Lucco, Director of Exhibitions at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that she is currently seeking candidates for a Temporary Preparator/Exhibit Installer position, which will begin in February, 2010. Knowing that many museums have been forced to reduce staff during these tough economic times, I am posting the details and encourage everyone to share this information with those you may know who are currently looking for work.

  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the world’s first museum dedicated to the living heritage of rock and roll music, is currently seeking candidates for the position of Temporary Preparator / Exhibit Installer. The individual will work with the exhibits team to design and prepare artifact mounts, and to install/deinstall collections-based exhibitions. This is a temporary, full-time (40 hours a week, Monday-Friday) job that begins on February 15, 2010 and ends on May 14, 2010. The wage for this position is $15.00/hr.
  • The qualified candidate must have previous experience with proper handling and care of museum artifacts, exhibition installation techniques, mount making and framing. Requires knowledge of basic carpentry tools and machinery and an understanding of materials used in the construction of museum exhibits.
  • Candidates must successfully pass a background investigation, drug screening and reference check. For consideration send resume and cover letter detailing your qualifications to: Christie Lucco, Director of Exhibitions, clucco@rockhall.org.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is an equal opportunity employer and a drug free workplace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Please excuse the holiday hiatus, I had it coming

Three weeks ago, after planning and preparing a Thanksgiving feast for thirteen at my home, only to turn around and find it was the first Sunday in Advent with less than 30 shopping days until Christmas and I was already exhausted, I decided to take a step back and enjoy the remainder of the holiday season, taking an unplanned, unannounced, and indefinite hiatus from being the Museoblogger.

Besides the shopping and the wrapping, I needed more time to handle the increased workload I was receiving from my clients, and I wanted to have the free time and energy at the end of each day to play with my children around the Christmas tree, time to see the season through their little eyes, full of wonder and anticipation, not resentment and frustration. I have spent my days working, and my evenings and weekends baking with family, visiting with friends, unhurriedly shopping for my loved ones, and truly feeling the joy we are supposed to experience in these pre-holidays.

I needed a break, to excuse myself from my weekly posting just long enough to catch up and breathe. I have, and now I am back.

In my absence, exciting things were happening in museum news, and I have been keeping up. However, these last three weeks I allowed myself to read, contemplate, form an opinion, and then move on to something else. Now, I am ready once again to comment and share my musings. My virtual pen is poised for the next museum-related posting coming very soon. In the mean time, a very happy holiday season to you all, and my best wishes for a prosperous new year.

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