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Member Spotlight: Joseph Gonzales, The University of the Arts

With the fall semester in full swing, many Museum Council members have school on the brain—whether as students, educators, presenters, or in another capacity entirely. As such, our next member spotlight focuses on a longtime Museum Council member who works in Museum education, training a new generation of budding arts & culture professionals. We spoke with Joseph to find out about how Museum Council has helped him during his time as a member—as well the many ways in which Joseph has helped Museum Council.

Joseph Gonzales, Ph.D.Director, Museum Communication Program and Assistant Professor, Museum Studies, The University of the Arts

Director, Museum Communication Program and Assistant Professor, Museum Studies, The University of the Arts

Director, Museum Communication Program and Assistant Professor, Museum Studies, The University of the Arts


Director, Museum Communication Program and Assistant Professor, Museum Studies, The University of the Arts

Q: Can you tell us about yourself and the work that you do?

I’m the Director of the Museum Communication graduate program in Museum Studies at the University of the Arts. I teach several courses which include Media Studio for Museum Communication, Museum Governance: Legal Issues, Ethics and Museums, and Creating Visitor-Centered Museum Experiences, along with providing academic and professional guidance for students and alumni. Additionally, I serve on local museum advisory committees, and am active in arts and cultural professional organizations like Museum Council.

Q: How did you get involved with Museum Council of Philadelphia?

I was invited to present about Latino community engagement work I was doing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the 2006 Annual Meeting by then-president, Barbara Bassett. I was so impressed by the organization and the passion of its leaders that I decided to join. The rest is history as they say. I was nominated and elected president in 2010 and served two terms. I am still active and have a close connection to this wonderful organization.

Q: How has membership in Museum Council helped you on a professional level?

It provided me a great leadership growth opportunity which was as much about learning as it was doing. Directing a volunteer-run professional organization poses unique challenges. I found that strengthening the structure of the organization and supporting the extremely talented and dynamic officers’ and committee members’ initiative made for a vibrant and engaged organization. It was a great lesson and prep for subsequent projects.

Additionally, I’ve met some wonderful people and built a great professional network through Museum Council. The contacts and friendships I’ve made have helped put me in touch with resources for students and colleagues. For example, I’ve been able to link my students to mutually beneficial independent study, internship, thesis capstone, and mentorship situations through Museum Council connections. Yes, feel free to coin “Museum Council Connections” for a future program.

Q: You’ve served as both a committee member and a board member for Museum Council. What can you tell me about your experience in these leadership roles?

I’ve touched on some of this above, but I can add that contributing to this volunteer-based professional organization has been extremely rewarding. Working alongside such talented and enthusiastic people from so many types of museums to create a sense of community among museum professionals while enriching the field is what the work is about. Being a committee member or board officer is about being accountable, working shoulder to shoulder, being creative, and giving back to the field outside of your day-to-day professional life.

Q: What’s been your favorite Museum Council experience to date?

Wow, this is not fair. I’ve participated in many MC activities in the past ten years. What keeps me involved are the people and the opportunities to experience “new to me” institutions, or familiar institutions in new ways. We get so involved in our work, it can be difficult to visit or see our peers and peer institutions. Museum Council provides this on an ongoing basis, and that’s why I keep going back. I do have to say the recent Annual Meeting and the special session with Museum Hack’s Dustin Growick was a great blend of learning and fun.

Liz Russell