Worldwide Directory of Museums
You can find great museums throughout the world. Of course, you can find many more weak ones.
In a third world country I visited mobs of people were pushing together inside to see the exhibits, most of which were covered in a thick layer of dust. The few active exhibits were broken. Text panels were discolored with age. But, the crowds poured in.
Anywhere you go the language is different, but the story is the same. Not enough money. Usually, museums do not have enough paying visitors to sustain a healthy organization. However there are thriving museums outside the US that might interest you for a professional position.
Before you get too far into locating a museum in your dream foreign destination, check out the International Council of Museums (www.icom.museum). This site will not help you find a job, but will give background on what museums are doing to connect with each other around the world.
Museums in Western Europe can now get support from the European Union in addition to national support. This means that you can find well-funded museum projects even in poor countries. And, most poor countries don’t have the trained talent needed to build or operate the museums.
All of this means that you can find opportunities in unlikely places if you dig deep enough.
NEMO (Network of European Museum Organizations) has a wonderful listing of museums by country. NEMO lists job openings: www.ne-mo.org/.
Science museums are popping up throughout Europe and one very active organization, ECSITE, holds big annual conferences and runs many programs. Their website lists their members and provides contact information:
European Collaborative for Science, Industry & Technology Exhibitions (ECSITE)
Regional science museum associations also abound in Europe. Two are The Association for Science and Discovery Centres in the UK and the Irish Science Centres Association Network based in Dublin. The Nordic countries have their own association and its membership is growing. Watch the recent growth of science museums in Norway; for a small country they have been adding museums at a very impressive rate. Austria has a strong network of science-minded groups.
Children’s museums have grown much more slowly outside the US than inside. But now they are starting to emerge in Europe. The international organization for Children’s museums, Hands-on Europe reports 90 members in Europe. They also have 4 members in Africa, 10 in Asia, and 12 in South America. Children’s museums could be the fastest growing segment of the museum industry over the next few years.
Europe is home to some of the best art museums. If you have expertise in art or art history one of them could provide you with a dream job. Check them out at: www.artcyclopedia.com/museums-int.html or www.umich.edu/~motherha/museums.html#europe.
In Asia, science museums are growing as countries see them as a way to educate their people about new technology. China is taking big, bold steps in creating museums. Rather than gradually building small museums and working up to larger ones, they are creating world-class science centers from the start. India is developing traditional science museums and outdoor science parks. Singapore has great museums of all kinds and neighboring Malaysia is striving to keep up. Japanese science museums are insular and are slower to accept outside people or ideas.
Asian art museums are listed at: www.artcyclopedia.com/museums/art-museums-in-asia.html
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are part of the Asia Pacific Network of Science and Technology Centres and have their own in country associations as well.
South America and the Caribbean
Check out The Museums Association of the Caribbean website.
In South America and the Caribbean the industry of science centers may be starting. Each region has an over-arching association.
Associação Brasileira de Centros e Museus de Ciência (ABCMC)
José Ribamar Ferreira, President
Espaço Museu da Vida
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz
Av. Brasil, 4365 – Manguinhos
21045-900 Rio de Janeiro RJ
African science museums are even farther behind than the rest of the world. But there are some and there is interest to create more.
As the museum industry grows the big question for African museums is: is Africa too big and diverse to be represented by one continent-wide organization or does it need one for North Africa and another for Sub-Saharan Africa? It seems like there will be two (or more) organizations representing museums. Search both regions (north and south) for museums and possible jobs.
There are many history museums and historical sites throughout the world, but we find no definitive list. One list of European history museums includes only two dozen: www.historian.org/research/intmeus.htm
Museums in Antarctica
There are three. None with paid staff as far as we know.
See the tab for Museums in the US. Lest we overlook our neighbors, here is a listing of museums in Canada:
www.virtualmuseum.ca/English/Museum/Vlmp/vlmp.html. Looking only at Canadian art museums is the site: www.artcyclopedia.com/museums/art-museums-in-canada.html. Canadian science centers show up in the ASTC listing (www.astc.org) and in www.cap.ca/wyp/museumsHome.asp.
Museums throughout Central America are found at: http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-7004912-cat-museums-central_america_things_to_do-. By no means is this list complete.
Narrowly-focused museums have associations or listings such as the Polar Museum listing. Transportation museums, which cover railroad, car and truck, maritime and air museums are listed on Wikipedia. Natural history museums can be located at:
Some sites offer lists and links of museums throughout the world. None of these is comprehensive. For example, here is a listing for science museums around the world: Another listing is provided by Yahoo
Still no go?
If you don’t find museums in the above links, go to your library and check out a tourist guide book for the country of your interest. Not all guide books list all museums, but if you can find several different guide books at least one will mention the major museums.
Speak the language?
By the way, don’t be put off if you don’t speak the language of the country for museums you are looking for. You have several advantages going for you. First, you speak English. We are fortunate that the English is becoming the one universal language and the language of many educational institutions, including museums. Second, many museum web sites have mirror sites in English. Look for the British Union Jack flag to click on. Third, free translation sites can instantly translate the page you’re looking at. Fourth, you’re cleaver. You can learn a new language.