OMA 2017 Student Scholarship Blog Series: Issue 3

The Ohio Museums Association is committed to connecting and empowering museum professionals at all stages of their career — including our student and emerging museum professionals!

For our 2017 OMA Annual Conference , OMA was very proud to offer three students seeking careers in the museum field, scholarships to attend OMA 2017 in Toledo.

Miss our previous posts? Learn more about the Scholarship series and read our previous entries here.

Our final edition of the 2017 Student Scholarship Blog Series comes from Kathleen Moore. Ms. Moore is a recent graduate from Walsh University, with a BA in Business Management and Museum Studies.  She has interned with the Hoover Historical Center, Western Reserve Historical Society, Massillon Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution and is currently seeking a full-time position in the museum field.  

Many Hats - OMA 2017 


In my professional development, I have often heard the phrase that working in the museum world requires you to wear many hats.  This idea has stuck with me so much that I decided to use the phrase “First of Many Hats” to decorate my mortarboard for my recent undergraduate graduation.  It surprised me to find how many people were not familiar with this cliché and I concluded that this tradition is one of the many secrets to success used by the museum community. 

At the 2017 Ohio Museum Association Annual Conference, museum professionals gathered to share these secrets with one another.  Trading these secrets, tips, and hats help museums across the state to join forces and focus on the conundrum of transforming museums while staying true to their origin and mission.  From attending different breakout sessions at the conference, I learned more about the hats needed by museums in fundraising, inclusion, and community partnerships.  The keynote panel gave insight into the many different hats associated with leadership and in what ways they could be worn most efficiently.      

Firstly, fundraising requires museum workers to don their bowler hats to conduct a feasibility study before starting any campaign.  These campaigns also require professionals to wear their princess tiaras and act as the museum’s figurehead.  Like a princess, they need to exhibit a poised and polite image to maintain a good reputation among the community.  It is unnecessary to wear a toupee to cover the institution’s flaws.  Instead, they need to be open to the public about all the organization’s strengths and weaknesses and wear a newsboy cap to hawk the museum’s stories.  Another important aspect of fundraising is putting on a top hat and connecting with governmental representatives and advocating for the museum. 

At another session, I learned about secrets of promoting inclusion to transform museums.  Putting on a fishing cap to reel people in, embrace diversity, and encourage participation is very important. Finally, it is important to wear a baseball cap and to keep the material in the vernacular and understandable to everyone.    

As the museum industry changes, we must utilize partnerships with different organizations.  This requires wearing a chef’s hat to create synergy by combining ingredients to form something even better.  A boater cap, like those worn by barbershop quartets, shows the importance of working together harmoniously. Another hat worn by those programmers is an artist’s beret stimulating creativity.  

The conference’s plenary panel brought in six directors from across the state to share their experiences putting on a hard hat and leading.  In their positions, they switch hats by the minute, wearing judicial wigs, firefighter hats, nurses’ hats, and police hats.  While this juggling can be challenging, they can only achieve transformational change by sticking it out for the long haul.  The leaders do not need to be the best idea people.  However, they do need to have the best long-term vision, which can be helped by wearing a miner’s helmet; create a motivational environment, through the assistance of their marching band hat; and they need to know the best way to delegate and manage, for which they put on their editor’s visor.  If all else fails, those leaders just need to put on their wizard’s hats when nothing but magic will work.

As always, OMA’s conference was a fantastic opportunity for the state’s museum professionals to put on their party hats and take a break from their hectic work schedules to network.  We all brought our thinking caps to work on solutions for the challenges facing museums now and those we see on the horizon.  Some people also brought a fez, but mostly because fezzes are cool.  All in all, the event was a wonderful opportunity for me as an emerging professional to try on a multitude of different hats and learn from established professionals the best ways to wear them. 

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