The museum’s primary subject of study is the fossil fuel ecosystem–characterized by a complex set of interrelated feedback loops encompassing energy, politics, society, economics, and culture. We turn an anthropological gaze on traditional natural history museums as ideological habitats within this ecosystem.
The Research & Writing Fellow will help to compile a sort of “people’s history of natural history” for the museum, inscribed in descriptions of artifacts within our collection, exhibit labels, exhibition abstracts, catalogs, online blog posts, promotional materials, alternative tours of mainstream museums (part of our “docents gone wild” program), and other written outputs.
The ideal candidate has strong writing chops and a background in anthropology, Institutional Critique art practices, media/culture, history, political theory, or journalism (or some combination thereof). The ability to comprehend critical theory and translate it for a broad public / lay audience is important. Comfort in writing with metaphors (of science, ecology, anthropology, museology) as rhetorics or poetics a plus.
While this is a temporary fellowship (4-12 months), we are always eager to identify long-term collaborators. If there is mutual enthusiasm and time, additional projects could include authoring op-eds to be published in mainstream media, articles for art and/or museum studies or anthropology journals, curating and editing texts written by well-known scholars to be published on The Natural History Museum’s website, and collaborating on a forthcoming book.
How to apply: please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following: a cover letter, resume, and 3 writing samples demonstrating a range of writing styles for different audiences.
Deadline for applications: March 15th, 2016, but candidates are strongly encouraged to apply early. We aim to fill the position as soon as possible.
Location: NY, NY (could be remote)
Hours and Duration: ~20 hours per week. Duration flexible: 4-12 months.
Stipend: $800 USD per month. Academic credit may be possible depending on your institution.
ABOUT NOT AN ALTERNATIVE
Founded in 2004, Not An Alternative is a non-profit organization that works at the intersection of art, activism, and pedagogy. It has a mission to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, institutions, and history. Through engaged critical research and design, the group curates and produces interventions on material and immaterial space, bringing together tools from art, architecture, exhibition design, and political organizing. All these efforts are enacted through the occupation and redeployment of popular vernacular, semiotics, and memes.
Not An Alternative was recently named in the NY Times and ArtNet’s “Best in Art in 2015” round-ups. The group’s installations, performances, and presentations have been featured within art institutions such as Guggenheim (NY), PS1/MOMA (NY), Queens Museum (NY), Brooklyn Museum (NY), Tate Modern (London), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), MOCAD (Detroit), and Museo del Arte Moderno (Mexico City), and in the public sphere, where they collaborate with community groups and activist mobilizations.
ABOUT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The Natural History Museum highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature, yet are left out of traditional natural history museums. It aims to inspire established science and natural history museums to rise to the challenges of the Anthropocene: equipping visitors with the stories and tools they need to understand the rapidly changing world and shape it for the common good. Deploying both inside and outside engagement strategies, The Natural History Museum collaborates with museum employees and professional associations, community groups, scientists, artists, and others to educate, affect public opinion, and inspire collective action.
The Natural History Museum is registered with the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Science and Technology Centers. Its inaugural exhibition took place at Queens Museum (NY) in September 2014. As a pop-up museum and flexible institutional framework, it is designed to operate in a range of venues, including arts institutions, schools, its mobile museum bus, major conventions for museum professionals, and within traditional natural history museums.
In many of its exhibitions, The Natural History Museum re-create exhibits from traditional natural history museums as a way to raise awareness around the politics inherent in the communication and presentation of science. Here emphasis is placed on museums as institutions that are inherently split–as such, they reflect various values and influences. Knowledge is situated: exhibits are a reflection of the context and systems of which they are a part. Thus, The Natural History Museum’s exhibitions encourage visitors to engage museum exhibits with a critical eye.
The Natural History Museum works closely with environmental justice communities, scientists, and the ever-growing “museum liberation movement”–comprised of groups around the world aiming to free museums from ties to the fossil fuel industry and other private interests. Through exhibitions and associated programming we offer visitors a way of going beyond spectatorship, encouraging productive and positive forms of engagement.
The museum is currently researching the following subjects for upcoming programs
- the history of public relations and the role that it has played in the communication of science;
- the byproducts and feedback loops within the fossil fuel ecosystem, and the impacts they have had on the natural world and on human cultures;
- insurgent tactics historically deployed by the fossil fuel industry, including CIA-supported coups as well as misinformation campaigns spearheaded by ExxonMobil among others;
- the history of natural history museums, as systems within the broader fossil fuel ecosystem.