In Season 1 of our new podcast, colleagues let us know how their career paths led them to the museums—all in their own words.
Recently launched, the first season of A Closer Look: The Harvard Art Museums Podcast is dedicated to sharing engaging personal stories from our staff about their work. The season will feature 10 episodes in all, representing an array of voices from departments across the museums.
Hosts Tara Metal and Michael Ricca, who are also on staff, seek to demystify the kind of work that takes place in an art museum and explore jobs that listeners may never have considered. Guests have included an archivist, an art conservator, fine art photographers, and curatorial, collections management, and safety and security staff. They share their backgrounds, talk about the sometimes surprising ways they arrived at their current roles, and describe what those positions entail, while also dispensing some good-natured advice. Metal hopes that these open and honest conversations—which include tales of unglamorous first jobs, missed opportunities, and perseverance—will offer a balanced look, pulling back the curtain a bit and inspiring listeners to think about a museum career.
Inspiration for the Podcast
While the idea of a podcast had been on digital content manager Tara Metal’s wish list for some time, there were two factors that helped push the initiative into being: an increased reliance on and need for digital content while the museums are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the conversations that colleagues at Harvard were having around issues of diversity and inclusion in the wake of continued violence, injustice, and inequity experienced by a range of marginalized communities.
“We thought about what we could do in terms of digital content to help make the museums more welcoming, more accessible, and more diverse,” said Metal. “Sharing interviews with our wonderful staff about what their jobs are like and how they got them in the first place felt like a good place to start. My hope is that people interested in museum work who are worried they can’t get these jobs will listen and think, ‘I see myself in that story; I can get a job like that.’”
Metal enlisted the help of colleague Michael Ricca, who is administrative coordinator for the museums’ Deputy Director’s Office and lends his voice as co-host of the podcast. His longtime experience as a singer and storyteller in jazz, cabaret, theater, and other venues made him a perfect match. For him, the experience is rewarding: “It’s been a great comfort to have this chance to connect with colleagues I haven’t seen for over a year. It’s also been gratifying to hear from listeners about how much they’ve enjoyed the conversations. The whole process felt like having lunch with a group of friends, and it reminded me what a great staff we have.”
The podcast is hosted on Soundcloud, with a dedicated presence on the museums’ website. Listeners can also subscribe through the podcast platform of their choice, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.
Stay tuned—the remaining three episodes of Season 1 will be released very soon! And plans for future seasons are in the works.
Jennifer Aubin is the public relations manager at the Harvard Art Museums.