Coding for art museums

Hi everyone,

I’m fairly new to coding, but someday I would like to work for an art museum creating applications to help researchers and managing digital archives and databases. I’m also really interested in certain museums’ work with digital publishing (my background is in arts publishing, but I’m feeling a little limited by traditional bookmaking these days).

I’ve been analyzing job postings for software engineering positions at museums in order to plan my course of study, but I was hoping to find others here with similar interests. This seems like a somewhat niche field within CS, but if anyone has experience working for an art museum’s IT or digital departments, I’d love to pick your brain! And if anyone else has similar goals, perhaps we could support and encourage each other.

Thanks for reading!

That sounds like a great goal. But I think your goal right now should be learning to code. That will be the number one thing that will get you closer to your goal.

This seems like a somewhat niche field within CS, …

I really don’t think so. For the most of the part, coding is coding. There are certain specializations where you need very specific knowledge, but I’m assuming that there isn’t some monster web framework just for museums. I’m sure having a background in art would be nice, but I’m willing to bet they have some coders working for them that think a Pollock is a kind of fish. I worked for a few years for a trucking company. I still don’t know much about the trucking industry. I didn’t really need to - I just needed to have coding tasks and acceptance criteria.

You could always reach out to some people who have this job on linkedin. Try to friend them and ask for advice. You’d be surprised how many people will give you some helpful words. But I think that you’ll find that they work with a variety of languages and libraries/frameworks, just like the rest of the coding world. I’d guess that 98% of what you need is the same as any coding job - learn to code well and start building projects. Keep learning and keep building.

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your insight and advice! I guess my question reveals how much I have to learn about this field. Time to stop planning my studies and start coding!

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I’m not sure how large of a sector this is by itself. You might have a better chance at finding a company that produces software for museums in general.

Most museums would probably use off the shelf software, and employ a few technical people to use it, and keep things running. It’s possible larger, more well funded museums have some full time developers, but this is less likely as there might not be enough work to support a full time position, I’d say it really depends on how well funded they are, and their needs in terms of technology.

Overall, your background falls into whats called “domain knowledge”, where you have knowledge of a given domain that can be leveraged within that domain. Beyond that, there’s technical knowledge that you can have for CS/IT that applies to all technical situations, regardless of the domain your in. In that case if you know how to build software, you could help build it from a technical standpoint regardless of the domain. As such knowing how to code, and or do IT is incredible flexible.

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