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Getting the IT department your museum needs

You may have noticed, we have a new position currently open for an IT Specialist. It will be open for the next three weeks, so if you are at all interested, please read through this post first and then go apply before the cut off. This is a really exciting position, and so I thought it might be worth it to try and explain why, as the job description doesn’t exactly “get into it.”

But first, a little background. Cooper Hewitt has gone through a real, honest to goodness, digital transformation. For the last four years, while the doors were closed, the museum underwent a complete restoration and renovation to it’s physical building and at the same time completely overhauled all things technology and digital throughout the museum and online. We built some groundbreaking stuff, and when we finally reopened just one year ago, we delivered a truly amazing experience–the likes of which we haven’t seen too much of, up until now.

Okay, so this is a pitch. I’m trying to draw you in. It’s such a great place to work, and we do really awesome stuff all day long, every single day. We rock! Are you hooked yet? Just watch the video below and you’ll understand.

But, really, we have done some pretty amazing things at Cooper Hewitt, and all the while with minimum staff resources and short deadlines. If you are a museum person, you’ve probably read the articles. If you are a design or technology person, same goes for you. Across the board, each and every staff person has had to morph into something new, something present in the digital world. In many cases, without even realizing it, each and every aspect of Cooper Hewitt has transformed.

Looking back, we were able to do a lot of this work because of a lot of incredible coincidences, generous people, and dedicated staff members. And, although many of us were annoyed or uncomfortable at the time, I think we can all see the payoff now. We all seem to now understand the vision behind it all. It is all starting to fall into place for many of us. I’m starting to get teary-eyed, so I’ll move on.

As you may imagine, our needs for IT infrastructure have had to keep in lock step with all of the innovation we’ve imposed along the way. We’ve adopted a complete constituent relationship management system ( Tessitura ) which is directly connected to the way we sell tickets, which is directly connected to the way our visitors engage with our technology, which directly connected to the way we analyze the visitor experience, which circles back to inform us on how we continue to develop these systems over and over again.

Our museum is online. The physical building is the number one consumer of our own API. When a visitor walks around the building, interacting with our interactives, our API is involved each step of the way. Sometimes I can feel the museum pulsating with activity–messages moving back forth from the galleries to the cloud, from one server to another. It’s sort of beautiful if you think about it.

We’re proud to announce that Cooper Hewitt has achieved LEED Silver certification for our museum campus, including the Carnegie Mansion and adjoining Miller/Fox townhouses. The project to attain certification began with the renovation planning phase in 2006, and was supported by architect of record Beyer Blinder Belle, design architect Gluckman Mayner Architects, and Atelier 10, who joined the project in 2011. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED rating system is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. Cooper Hewitt was awarded certification for optimizing energy performance, purchasing green-e certified electricity supply, maintaining 95 percent of existing structure and envelope, water use reduction, community connectivity and public transportation access. #cooperhewitt #leedcertified

A photo posted by Cooper Hewitt (@cooperhewitt) on

Of course with all of this comes an incredibly increased need for infrastructure management. We are no longer a museum that just requires some basic desktop support–someone to fix the projector bulb, or replace the toner cartridge and set up your network account. These days we are looking for creative people who can solve complex problems. We need the type of person who can look at our AWS account and explain to us how we could make better use of “reserved” or “spot instances”, come up with better ways for our developers to continuously test and deploy new code, and someone who can log on to any kind of machine and figure out what the problem is, what service is down, what needs to be patched, what log messages mean what.

All design, all the time. ✒️ Regram @choppingblock #cooperhewitt

A photo posted by Cooper Hewitt (@cooperhewitt) on

So how are things different these days? Well, first of all, the major shift is that IT is now a part of Digital & Emerging Media. They used to be two separate entities with IT reporting into our Director of Operations. It made sense before the transformation because IT was mainly about the day to day operational types of problems like I’ve mentioned above. Ultimately, IT was in charge of making sure everyone’s computers were working and that there was toner in all the printers. The need for this still exists today but it’s a much smaller part of the big picture. Our staff are far more self sufficient now, and we are able to lean more heavily on our psuedo-outsourced-desktop support line through our mothership down in D.C. ( Did I mention we are part of Smithsonian ? )

Now, IT is a central player in the world of Digital & Emerging Media and it’s critical that we approach our new hires with this in mind. Like I said above, we need creative, curious souls who want to be part of something really exciting.

  • If you are obsessed with getting the last drop of performance out of 25 servers, please apply.
  • If you ran your own BBS in 1989, your own phpBB in 2005 or your own Discourse in 2016, please apply.
  • If you see equal design brilliance in both ESU 400 and RFC 2246, please apply.
  • If you like to $ sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade -y, please apply.
  • If you prefer mapping a network drive over just using Dropbox… well… still apply and we’ll see…

OK, what next? Rush right over to the posting and apply. This position is a Federal job, which means it comes with all the benefits government workers receive, including a nice retirement plan, great health care and a free unlimited ride subway card! But, do be sure to put time and effort into the application. I know it may seem a little outdated ( trust me, this is something we need to work on in #GovClub ), but be sure to respond to each aspect of the application very carefully. And of course, if you have any questions about the position or the application itself, feel free to reach out, I’d love to know if you’ve applied.

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