How to spend a day at your museum, when you are an archaeologist but you work as a guardian

Once upon a time, there was a young girl and archaeology student. She visited the National Archaeological Museum of Florence and, when she saw the terrible and magnificent bronze statue of the Chimera, she said “One day I will work here!”. Maybe Someone listened her and a few years later, when she graduated, the Italian Ministry of Culture announced a competition for more of 300 Museum Assistants to archaeological Superintendencies. For the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany only 10 people won, and among these, there was me.

The Etruscan bronze staue of Chimera

The Etruscan bronze statue of Chimera

Yes, it’s me the young girl who expressed the desire in front of Chimera! In may 2010 I and nine other young archaeologists like me started to work at National Archaeological Museum of Florence.

Yeah, that’s right: our work consists in checking the halls of the archaeological museum. We are guardians (the correct name is Museum’s Assistant…) so we check our masterpieces, like bronze statues of Chimera, Arretian Minerva and Arringatore, or the François Vase, or coffins and mummies in the Egyptian Museum.

The daily life of the Museum’s Assistant is boring. We spend 6 hours each day in our hall and we intimate to the people “No flash” and “Restrooms are on the Second Floor”… It’s not an exciting work at all… Rarely, visitors ask for some information about the museum’s collection or about some archaeological artifact; above all, the Archaeological Garden of the Museum fascinates the public, and a lot of people ask for information about it.

The Museum's garden

The Museum’s garden

When we don’t stay in museum’s halls, we work at the “supervision room”, a space where we supervise all the museum for security: the museum is checked by cameras and in this room we watch the cameras. It’s a surveillance system that helps Museum’s Assistants in their work. Furthermore, we work three or four nights a month, to ensure the surveillance at night.

The work of Museum’s Assistant is boring. It’s boring if you know that you could use your working time in a different way. It’s boring because we are archaeologists and our competence is wasted. We could really help the museum in its mission to engage the public, to educate young public, to communicate archaeology, to increase culture. Instead, our competence is not appreciated and we stay in our hall to sentence “No flash” and “Restrooms are on second Floor” (but also “Second floor today is closed, I’m sorry” or “The garden is closed, I’m sorry”…).

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m glad to work in the museum. But I can’t use my competence as an archaeologist because my work is to check the artifacts and no more! My job profile instead consists of a lot of others roles: communication, treatment, collaboration in educational activities with schools… From 2010 to 2012 I didn’t carry out any of these others features of my job profile. Finally, from spring 2013 something changed.

Our Superintendent asked to the Museum’s Assistants collaboration in increasing accessibility for the Museum. I am able to write a blog, I’m archaeoblogger and museumblogger too, so I suggested to open a blog dedicated to all the Florence Museum’s activities. The Superintendent liked the idea, but he wanted a blog dedicated to all the Archeological Superintendence of Tuscany! From May 2013 the Archeotoscana blog is active, together with a facebook fanpage and a twitter account. I and another colleague, a young archaeologist like me, we work everyday on the blog and social media communication. When? Yep! When we work in the “supervision room” or when we work by night! We have not an office, obviously, it’s impossible to think that! But when we are in museum’s hall, if you see us with smartphone in our hands, you know that we’re not playing, but we’re twitting… (and of course, I dedicate a lot of time when I’m at home, as a real social media manager… my husband is not happy, but… 😉 )

Chimera is the symbol of Archeotoscana Blog and Social Media

Chimera is the symbol of Archeotoscana Blog and Social Media

In my opinion, our blogging is great work because there are very few museumblogs in Italy, and very few archaeological museum’s blogs. So, I think our work is important to increase communication with the public and to increase public too. I believe strongly in this, so I want to keep up the good work!

Furthermore, during last winter Museum’s Assistants took part in educational activities. So, we collaborated with Educational Services and we organized some events like the “Families at Museum’s Day” or the “Digital Invasions” that had a lot of success. These are good opportunities for the Museum to open its doors to more and more people in a different way… I’m glad to be part of this activities and for the future we will plan others cultural exhibitions… stay tuned!

The Families at Museum's Day at National Archaeological Museum of Florence

The Families at Museum’s Day at National Archaeological Museum of Florence

Yes, I know, my main role is staying in museum’s hall to say “No flash” and “Restrooms are on Second Floor”. But I hope that the current situation will change. And for me, now, the Museum’s Assistant is not a so boring work…