Planet Word (www.planetwordmuseum.org) is the world’s first voice-activated museum and the world’s first interactive museum of words and language. Founded and led by philanthropist and educator Ann Friedman, it’s a new kind of museum, one based on ideas rather than a collection. Planet Word’s mission is to renew and inspire a love of words, language, and reading out of the belief that a strong democracy is founded on a literate society.
Readers are more likely to be volunteers, to be active in their communities, and to vote. The museum’s unique participatory experiences use cutting-edge technology to bring language vividly to life.
Free admission to the museum offers galleries devoted to early childhood language acquisition, the diversity of the world’s languages, etymology, songwriting, oratory, poetry, humor-writing, copywriting, and storytelling. Planet Word’s experiences entrance visitors of all ages, interests, and backgrounds. In addition to these main galleries, the museum offers an array of voice-activated digital stations covering word-related topics such as forensic linguistics, truth in advertising, dialect, product-naming, news literacy, linguistic bias, and words that wound. These “beacons” invite visitors to deeper understanding of their critical role in choosing how we use words every day.
The museum is housed in the Franklin School, a newly restored and rehabilitated National Historic Landmark at the corner of 13th and K Streets, NW, in the heart of downtown D.C. The building has undergone an extensive interior restoration, and the museum has installed architecturally significant large-scale, high-tech, and media-intensive exhibits and installations. The museum opened to visitors in October 2020 during the global health pandemic and operates a growing portfolio of on-site and online public and education programming.
Planet Word’s commitment to promoting diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion is clearly reflected in the stories we tell. At Planet Word, we strive to provide a forum for civil discourse and to be a place where our community, in all its vibrant diversity, can gather to share the words that bridge differences and forge solutions.
Planet Word is seeking a Director of Museum Technology with a discerning eye for quality who will ensure that its award-winning immersive exhibits and installations are always up and running and operating as designed with the goal of a high-quality visitor experience. Planet Word exhibits employ substantial amounts of custom software.
This software, supported through maintenance agreements with our exhibition designers and fabricators, includes iPad apps, network traffic management, BrightSign presentations, Unity applications, Steam VR modules, Windows software, an array of Azure cloud services, and inter-device communication servers. Understanding how these technologies work individually and symbiotically is critical to the success of exhibit operations. Common hardware within the museum includes:
• BrightSign players
• Christie & Panasonic projectors
• Dante audio networking devices
• Network to DMX nodes
• Extron extenders
• IPads & SimpleMDM
• Pandora’s Box media servers
• Powered & amp supported speakers
• QSys & I/O Frames
• Touch screen monitors
• USB extenders
• LED tape & DMX lighting
• Microphones & headphones
• Networking hardware
• Windows computers of various hardware
• Vive / Valve VR components
The Director of Museum Technology reports directly to the Senior Director of Exhibits and Special Projects. The Director manages and trains AV Technicians and works closely with external AV vendors. The Director also supervises the staff and/or contractors responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of AV systems in support of public programs, events, and administration, as well has help desk services for business operations. Familiarity with network administration is a plus but not required.
As part of a small technology team, the Director is expected to lead through example and be very hands on, from running the lighting program for the building, to troubleshooting exhibitions during opening hours, to publishing updated media for exhibitions.
The Director of Museum Technology will work collaboratively with other museum departments to extend the use of museum technology to other platforms, including digital and virtual applications, and will proactively explore unique opportunities for future experiences that align with the museum’s core values.
ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS (other duties as assigned)
• Proactively monitor, manage, and troubleshoot all exhibition technology and related support components
to ensure uptime and correctness.
• Direct the maintenance of all museum technology (by AV technicians and outside vendors) to ensure
exhibits and installations are properly maintained and functioning at optimal performance levels, as per
• Develop short- and long-term museum technology operating budget, capital plans, and monitor
• Provide risk assessment and hands-on management in accordance with strategic direction.
• Work with museum leadership team and its technology partners to investigate opportunities to connect
the museum’s physical spaces and assets to digital properties and vice versa.
• Work with education, programming, and facility use teams to support the use of museum technology in
their areas of activity.
• Support and collaborate with the Senior Director of Exhibitions and Special projects and external partners such as exhibition designers, exhibition AV programmers and AV integrators, and other contractors as required to develop, update, troubleshoot, and repair exhibitions and installations as needed.
• Schedule coverage to ensure exhibition AV support is onsite during museum operating hours as required.
• Train, manage, and coach all AV staff in their responsibilities, respective duties, and schedules in
accordance with technical procedures.
• Make diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority in hiring, training, and day-to-day operations.
• Train internal departments (Visitor Services, Exhibitions, Programs/Facility Use, Administration, etc.) on
basic on/off and troubleshooting procedures.
• Support marketing, communications, and fundraising by serving as an ambassador and spokesperson for
the museum on matters related to technology.
• Participate in cross-training with the Programs and Facility Use team to ensure adequate exhibit and
event/program support as needed.
QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS
• Bachelor’s degree or equivalent job experience; specialized study in broadcast, communications, media
production, technology, art, film, theater, or related field preferred.
• Minimum 7 years related experience in audio visual production or technology.
• Museum exhibit experience preferred.
• Proof of technical skills/experience in: Exhibition installation and maintenance, projection mapping and
geometry correction, networking (TCP/IP/DHCP), vendor management, AV equipment maintenance, and
• Experience administering the following AV systems/hardware: Medialon, Q-SYS, WatchOut, Pandora’s Box Server/Manager, Dante, Brightsign, QSC Q-Sys, Mobile device management (MDM), Computers, Servers, and iPads.
• Experience with budgets, staffing, deadlines, metrics, and deliverables.
• Experience working directly with software developers and custom software including iOS and Unity
• Ability to explain complex technology and audio-visual related issues to non-technical staff.
• Ability to prioritize and adjust heavy workload, manage a variety of tasks, and meet various deadlines with changing priorities, frequent interruptions, and conflicting deadlines.
• Ability to effectively lead and mentor staff.
• Ability to work evenings, weekends, and off-site as appropriate; 24/7 for critical exhibition issues.
• Experience in database administration in SQL or equivalent and working knowledge of PCI-DSS
requirements is a plus.
• Experience acquiring and deploying SaaS products is a plus.
WORK ENVIRONMENT and PHYSICAL DEMANDS
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
While performing the duties of this job the employee is regularly required to sit, use hands and arms to operate keyboard, mouse, and phone. The employee needs to regularly use senses of sight and hearing. The employee is frequently required to reach with hands and arms and required to stand, walk, stoop, or kneel. The employee is frequently required to lift up to 50 pounds, operate lifts, and work while on a ladder. The employee must be able to wear Personal Protection Equipment and enter noisy, dirty, and dusty facility and exhibit construction areas.
SALARY AND BENEFITS
Planet Word offers a generous benefits package including:
Full employee medical, dental, vision, life, STD/LTD/AD&D coverage plus 50% dependent share and 403(b) plan
PTO: Vacation, holidays, personal days
Planet Word’s policy is to provide equal opportunity employment (EOE) to all persons. Planet Word recruits, trains,
compensates, and promotes regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, veteran status,
and other protected status.
Please send your resume and a letter of interest via email to:
Subject: Director of Museum Technology