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The Inside Scoop: University Night with Museum Council

This Friday, February 3, members and friends of Museum Council will come together for one of favorite annual traditions: University Night. Hosted this year at the Wells Fargo History Museum on South Broad Street, University Night puts the focus on students working toward careers in museums and other cultural institutions, and offers museum professionals a chance to meet and interact with some of their future peers. Tickets for the event are available online.

Patrick Wittwer, Chair, Emerging Museum Professionals Committee, and Museum Manager at Wells Fargo History Museum

University Night is organized by Museum Council’s Emerging Museum Professionals Committee. Patrick Wittwer, Chair of the EMP Committee and Museum Manager at the Wells Fargo History Museum, answered some questions about what to expect from the event this year.

Q: What is University Night?

Patrick Wittwer: University Night is a fantastic networking opportunity. It is an evening specifically set up to get younger and newer museum professionals interacting with folks who are well-established in their museum careers. For those of us who aren’t super comfortable initiating conversation with a stranger, we’ve developed an activity to get people talking. Beyond the activity, there will be plenty of time for eating, drinking, and being merry with a bunch of other people who love museums as much as you do (you might want to bring some business cards).

Q: What kind of activities will there be?

PW: Just the most fun activities ever! Last year, we divided everyone into five groups. Each group was tasked with creating a museum and describing what each person’s role was in their imaginary institution. This gave emerging museum professionals (EMPs) a chance to not only chat with museum managers, directors, and VPs, but it allowed them to work on a creative project together. This year, we have a similar idea, though on a smaller scale than creating an entire museum. Let’s just say we may have borrowed an idea or two from a very popular Food Network competition.

During last year’s University Night, attendees worked together to map out a plan for their “dream museum.”

During last year’s University Night, attendees worked together to map out a plan for their “dream museum.”

Q: Who will be at University Night? Is it just for students?

PW: University Night is for everyone! You will be rubbing elbows with a variety of people. We will randomly assign groups for this year’s activity, so you could end up working very closely with a student, frontline staff, Museum Council Board Members, and a director from your favorite local museum! The array of experience in the room is quite possibly the best thing about University Night. The happy hour afterwards is probably the second-best.

After our workshop activity, guests at last year’s University Night spent time networking (and enjoying drinks from the bar).

After our workshop activity, guests at last year’s University Night spent time networking (and enjoying drinks from the bar).

Q: What else do people need to know about University Night?

PW: This year, we’re being hosted at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Center City. The manager (hi) will give a quick talk about the ups and downs of working for a corporate museum, and then it is on to the networking! Because this night is all about building your network and developing relationships, I’d bring a few business cards and be ready to follow up with your new contacts over coffee in the coming weeks. It is also worth noting that this event is being put together by the Emerging Museum Professionals committee. If you’re not familiar with us, find me or another committee member and we’d be happy to chat about helping you get your career moving!





Liz Russell