After decades spent rising the ranks and building curatorial clout there are very few places left for you to go in terms of a major career move. One day the phone rings and a few lunches later you are offered the position of museum director at a hallowed institution that has endured many very public problems in the last few years. As a seasoned veteran who has worked with the best in the field, you have ideas about how to turn things around, but there’s so much heavy lifting to do that you might end up buried in rubble. Is this how you want to cap your career? Take this quiz to see if you are fit for the top floor of the museum.
1. Upon your arrival, the staff immediately votes to unionize. You:
a. Wear a union button to your first all-staff meeting.
b. Put out a call for pipe-wielding union busters on the NYFA jobs listings.
c. Schedule a mandatory all-staff meeting and ask, “Why do you hate me?”
2. The HR department asks you to keynote a diversity, inclusion, and equity training session for the museum’s staff. You:
a. Express shock to everyone that they hired yet another entitled white person for your job.
b. Reiterate that you don’t see color and don’t care if people are cerulean, chartreuse, or fuchsia.
c. Pepper the talk with anecdotes about your trans cousin and African American sister-in-law.
3. You check the Yelp reviews for the museum and people resoundingly hate your café. You:
a. Tell your close pal Mario Batali to slip on his Crocs because “it’s go time.”
b. Send a strongly worded memo instructing staff to post positive reviews on their lunch break.
c. Put on a disguise and order the chicken salad to see if it gives you diarrhea as it did to disgruntled reviewer Deeznutz G.
4. An audience report reveals that the museum’s exhibition of Kyrgyz Post-Minimalism received very low traffic and absolutely no press. You:
a. Blame the idiot public for not knowing that Kyrgyzstan is a country.
b. Bump up the sure-fire Alec Monopoly retrospective in the calendar.
c. Reassign the curator to the coat check.
5. The chair of the board did not vote for your hire and is still devoted to the outgoing director. You:
a. Woo and bed his wife, daughter, maid, chauffeur, and accountant in the most swashbuckling act of cuckolding ever perpetrated.
b. Engineer a coup and have him replaced by Swizz Beatz.
c. Invite him to lunch in the café to sample the chef’s famous chicken salad.
6. A powerful board member with a gallery wing named after him has been busted for human trafficking. You:
a. Announce his immediate resignation in a press release and remove his name from the gallery before talking to him.
b. Ask to borrow an extra shipping container to send a Carl Andre piece to the Hamburger Bahnhof.
c. Apologize for curating a Paul Chan exhibition at his son’s bar mitzvah.
7. The development department is relying on you to reach out to your contacts to secure an honoree for next year’s gala. You suggest:
a. Maggie Nelson.
b. Acclaimed painter Hunter Biden.
c. X Æ A-Xii.
8. You find out in your first week that the museum expansion budget has a $40 million shortfall. You:
a. Deaccession as much art as you can.
b. Ask your dad for the money.
c. Tell Renzo Piano to lose the education center.
9. The museum has been operating at a loss for ten years and budget cuts are imminent. You:
a. Only offer Cool Ranch Doritos and tap water at openings.
b. Take a pay cut and wear second-hand Bonobos chinos to work for a year.
c. Rent out the museum to BP for a show called “The Art of Petroleum.”
10. There are protestors at the gates of the museum. You:
a. Go outside, hug each of them, and offer everyone free tote bags.
b. Wave the Punisher flag from your office to mobilize your sleeper cell of paramilitary frogmen.
c. Organize an activist exhibition at the museum with their leftover signs.
0–4: You are a hacky art sociopath who will leap for any job that gives you power over others. On paper this opportunity looks like a step up, but actually it is the beginning of a downward spiral that will find you getting tossed out the door within a couple disastrous years. Let someone with a real vision have a go at this gig and focus your bad energy on harassing waiters, Lyft drivers, and liberals. Keep organizing shows at university art galleries and special projects at satellite art fairs until you land in a remote museum in western China, struggling to order cacio e pepe at a Szechuan hot pot restaurant.
5–14: You’ve been devoted to the art machine for so long that you can’t imagine life outside the factory. You could likely stay at your current job for many more years without regrets because, although you’ve stopped caring, it’s just what you do. Stay uninspired until retirement and don’t bring your low energy to an institution in need of a dynamo.
15–20: People are always impressed when you remember their names and say “hi” in the elevator. The worst complaint that your admiring colleagues can respectfully offer is that you are too much of a perfectionist. Your knowledge is vast and your energy is transformative, so if anyone can turn around this sinking ship, it might as well be you. Just be sure to listen and lead others by your own example.