Interpretation Specialist | Houston, TX
Job Category: Learning & Interpretation
Requisition Number: INTER001292
The Interpretation Specialist works with the Interpretation Manager and another Interpretation Specialist to play a critical role within the Department of Learning and Interpretation and the museum as a whole to enhance visitors’ experiences of learning and enjoyment in the permanent collection galleries and special exhibitions. Charged with the task of helping to make art at the MFAH accessible and engaging to the broadest possible audiences, the Interpretation Specialist is expected to participate in all aspects of the interpretive process, which includes, but is not limited to, the writing of interpretive plans; the development of content for labels, brochures, audio guides, in-gallery interactives and other new interpretive tools and technologies, and online platforms; and the assessment of those interpretive resources.
- Works with the Interpretation Manager and a collaborative team of curators, educators, conservators, and other museum staff to identify and create content for in-gallery interpretation of the permanent collection, in text, audio/video, and digital formats.
- Works with the Interpretation Manager and staff in Curatorial Graphics and Publications, Marketing, and other departments on interpretive materials for selected special exhibitions, including in-gallery texts, audio and other digital interpretation, and live dialog.
- Evaluates visitor experience in permanent collection and special exhibition galleries using a range of methods including timing and tracking, interviews, and review of analytics data.
- Works with a collaborative team to develop new ways for docents and other educators to interpret art for visitors in the galleries, especially those visitors with special needs.
- Assists with docent training for the Access Docent program.
- Brings expertise in an area of the collection to the department; offers teaching in the galleries as available.
- Keeps abreast of best practices in the field of museum interpretation, and represents the MFAH at regional and national conferences.
- Assists the Interpretation Manager with other initiatives, as needed.
Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities:
- Must possess a comprehensive knowledge of the history of art as well as interpretive theory, museology, and evaluative practices
- Demonstrated excellent writing, public speaking, and verbal communication skills
- Excellent organizational skills, follow-through, and attention to detail
- Excellent interpersonal skills and willingness to work collaboratively across museum departments
- Willingness to innovate and experiment with new modes of interpretation and visitor engagement
- Ability to develop effective work processes, and coordinate multiple projects.
- Familiarity with new and emerging technologies in interpretation is highly desirable.
- Experience with digital media production is highly desirable: audio or video production, web design, user experience design (UX), graphic design, or another area of interest.
Education and Experience:
- M.A. in art history or humanities required; or a B.A. in these fields with experience in the field of art museum interpretation
- 2-3 years museum or related experience
- Proven experience working successfully in collaborative environments
About the MFAH
The MFAH is an organization comprised of 600+ employees and 1,000+ docents and volunteers. The museum is more than 100 years old and ranks nationally among the top 10 art museums in exhibition space, memberships, endowments, and attendance, with 1M visitors annually. Our multifaceted institution includes multiple gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, two art schools, and two house museums for decorative arts. The encyclopedic collection numbers more than 70,000 works of art in a wide range of media.
Houston stands among America’s largest cities by population and area, is incredibly diverse racially and ethnically, and is an economic powerhouse with a very strong arts ecosystem that attracts over 7 million visitors alone to the Museum District where MFAH is centered.
Working Conditions and Physical Demands
The ideal candidate must be able to complete all physical requirements of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Work will be primarily be performed in an office environment. Physical demands will include prolonged computer and telephone use.
Equal Opportunities for All
At the MFAH, we believe that diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusivity are fundamental to our organization. We welcome all candidates whose experience has prepared them to contribute to our organization and our pledge for workplace diversity, inclusion, and excellence.
Our commitment to our policy and practice of nondiscrimination represents more than good intentions. It provides for employment decisions that are made without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, or veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established by law or any other reason unrelated to your ability to join and contribute to our organization and support our mission to provide a museum experience for all.
Research shows that women and individuals from underrepresented backgrounds often apply to jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications. We recognize that it is highly unlikely that an applicant meets 100% of the qualifications for a given role. Therefore, if much of this job description describes you, then you are highly encouraged to apply for this job!
The MFAH is equally committed to the full inclusion of all qualified individuals interested in employment with the organization. As part of this commitment, we want to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation needed to 1) participate in the job application or 2) interview process; 3) perform essential job functions; and/or 4) participate in the benefits and privileges of employment with the MFAH. If reasonable accommodation is needed, please contact the human resources department - HR@mfah.org
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, offers an excellent benefits package that includes:
Insurance coverage is effective the first of the month following employment with the MFAH for this full time role.
- Medical Insurance: Employee and dependent coverage through a choice of managed health care programs
- Dental Insurance: Employee and dependent coverage through two plan choices
- Vision Insurance: Employee and dependent coverage through a vision program
- Life Insurance & AD&D: Employee coverage at no cost to the employee
- Long Term Disability: Employee coverage at no cost to the employee
The MFAH provides a generous schedule for time off under the following benefit categories:
- Paid Time Off- Used for absences from work such as vacation, illness of short duration, and personal reasons. Hours are accrued biweekly, based on employment status, length of service, and hours worked
- Reserve Time Off - Used for extended illnesses. Employees accrue up to 6 days per year, up to a maximum of 120 days
- Holidays - Full-time employees receive ten paid holidays per year
- Volunteer Time Off - The MFAH supports activities that enhance and serve the communities in which we live and work. Employees receive up to 40 hours of paid time off annually to give back and volunteer.
Retirement – 403(b) plan
- Employees may contribute to the MFAH Retirement Savings Plan. Eligible employees contributing to the plan may receive up to a 5% matching contribution from the MFAH after one year of service.
- Fully vested from start of participation
- The MFAH also recognizes prior nonprofit service, which may provide for an acceleration of the MFAH employer match
- MFAH Membership - Employees receive a free Family-level membership
- Discounts - Employees receive discounts on purchases at the Museum retail shop, all campus eateries and the Glassell School of Art