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Courses

Curriculum

Foundation Course
Museums Today: Mission and Function (Required First Course)

Museum Practicum (Required)

Certificate Electives
Select at least two courses from this group of electives. The third course may be chosen from these electives or from other graduate-level courses.

  • Collections Care and Preventive Conservation
  • Curatorial Approaches to Collections Management
  • Exhibition Planning
  • Museum Education for K-12 Audiences
  • Museum Evaluation
  • Museums and Digital Media
  • Philanthropy and Fundraising
  • Proseminar in Museum Education
  • Revitalizing Historic House Museums
  • Teaching and Learning in the Museum
  • The Meaning of Things: Interpreting Material Culture
  • PLUS Graduate-Level Courses
  • Art History, Classics, Education, and History (To be approved by your academic adviser)

Required

Museums Today: Mission and Function (FAH/ED/HIST 285)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies
Cara Iacobucci, Independent Museum Professional

Museums in America are changing inside and out. New demands and expectations from various audiences—visitors, community, schools, donors—are challenging the way they organize their staffs, shape collections, and create exhibitions and programs. This course is an overview of the operations of museums in the 21st century. Topics include governance, planning, collecting, exhibitions, programming, technology, and finances. The course also examines some of the current issues challenging the field, such as the treatment of disputed cultural property, working with communities, and dealing with controversy. (fall – Thursdays, 6-9 p.m.)

Museum Practicum (FAH0289/HIST0292/ED0284, and summer: HIST 0292C, FAH 0289C, or ED 0284C)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies (fall, spring)
Cara Iacobucci, Independent Museum Professional (summer)

The internship gives a student firsthand experience in museum work. It is generally a one-to-two semester, 135-hour experience with specific projects and responsibilities arranged by the student, in collaboration with the internship supervisor, and the site supervisor. Most internships take place during the work week; evening and weekend internships can be difficult to arrange. Prerequisites: A minimum of three Museum Studies courses, one of which must be FAH 285, must be completed before beginning the internship. (fall, spring, summer)

Electives

Collections Care and Preventive Conservation (HIST 291/FAH 288)
Ingrid A. Neuman, Museum Conservator, Rhode Island School of Design Museum

The preservation of materials found in museums and other cultural and historic institutions is the focus of this course. Topics include the chemical and physical nature of material culture, the agents of deterioration, preventive conservation strategies and protocol, proper care and handling of artifacts, and the appropriate cleaning and 'maintenance" of art objects and historic artifacts. The role of science within the field of conservation is explored. Students learn how to survey an art collection, establish a basic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program, prepare for and respond to an emergency, execute a written examination and condition report, and propose an artifact preservation plan. Practical knowledge of safe exhibition and storage techniques and materials is emphasized. The course includes trips to museums and conservation laboratories, and hands-on opportunities to learn about tools and equipment essential for photo-documenting artifacts and monitoring the museum environment. Prerequisite: ED/FAH/HIST 285. (spring – Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m.)

Curatorial Approaches to Collections Management (FAH 0284)
Julia Courtney, Curator of Art, Springfield Art Museums

An introduction to the intersecting responsibilities of managing a museum collection while making it accessible to public audiences. The course addresses all aspects of collections management from acquisition to deaccessioning, registration documentation, creating collections and disaster plans, collections storage, special collections, art and cultural property crimes, provenance research, facility reports, loans, exhibits and displays, as well as the intellectual control and protection of collections. Students learn about collaborating with artists and community members, managing loans, insurance, and project administration, and explore access strategies such as open storage, online databases and social media platforms utilized to highlight collections. Guest speakers and field trips connect classroom experience to current issues and practices in the field. (fall – Mondays, 6-9 p.m.)

Exhibition Planning (HIST 215)
Kenneth Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions, Historic New England, Boston
Matt Kirchman, owner of ObjectIDEA, an interpretive design consultancy

Learn the organization of an exhibition, from idea to opening reception and beyond. This course addresses issues specific to the temporary museum exhibition, such as priorities, deadlines, loan negotiations, installation requirements, evaluation, and curatorial and educational goals. Students select objects, arrange for loans, design and install the exhibition, create and implement a public relations campaign, write interpretive labels, and formulate and produce public programs. Prerequisites: ED/FAH/HIST 285 and one other Museum Studies course. (spring – Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m.)

The Meaning of Things: Interpreting Material Culture (HIST 290)
George Schwartz, Curatorial Scholar, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

This course explores the discipline of Material Culture Studies, or the analysis and interpretation of objects. While the course will focus on American material culture from the Colonial era to the present day, the methodologies presented can be applied to artifacts from other cultures and time periods. The course will employ a broad definition of the term "material culture" that includes everything made by humans—archaeological fragments, automobiles, fine furniture, tools, Barbies, trash. In his oft-cited essay "The Truth of Material Culture: History or Fiction?" Jules David Prown writes, "the study of material culture is the study of material to understand culture, to discover the beliefs—the values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions—of a particular community or society at a given time." Through direct observation, analytical models, case studies, and writing exercises, this course will introduce students to both the theory and practice of understanding culture and history through artifacts. But we won't stop there; we will also think critically and creatively about using objects to educate, inspire, and challenge the public, in museum settings and beyond. Prerequisites: ED/FAH/HIST 285. (spring – Thursdays, 6-9 p.m.)

Museum Education for K – 12 Audiences (ED 0281)
Tara Young, Deputy Director, Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA

Museums offer school groups unique experiences that enhance classroom learning and instill the skills of life-long learning. This course explores ways in which museums create on and off-site programs for the K -12 community of pupils, teachers and parents, as well as home-schooled students, scouts, and other learning communities. Students will examine Common Core Standards and other frameworks and will develop outcome-based curricula that make use of museum resources. Partnerships with teachers and schools and professional development programs for teachers will also be addressed. Guest speakers and field trips connect classroom experience to current issues and practices in the field. Prerequisites: ED/FAH/HIST0285 and ED0280. (spring – Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m.)

Museum Evaluation (ED 0191C)

This course will introduce students to evaluation theory, methodologies, and implementation in museums and similar organizations. Students will consider which evaluation strategy best fits the research question and program type. They will explore research design, protocol and ethics (including IRBs), measurement techniques, sampling, data analysis and interpretation, and reporting (written and oral). The goal of the course is to equip both emerging and seasoned museum professionals with the skills to plan, manage, and utilize evaluation studies. (summer – day and time - TBD)

Museums and Digital Media (ED 0286)
Jenna Fleming, Independent Museum Professional

Technology-based museum initiatives encourage creative exploration, independent interpretation, and improved audience reach in an engaging and entertaining way. They enable museums to enrich the visitor’s experience while extending the boundaries of the institution to diverse and distant constituencies all over the world. This course engages students in exploring the pedagogical, technical, legal, and financial issues of using state-of-the-art media resources in museum-audience interactions. Students examine the role of technology in the museum today and learn to critique digital resources, plan interactive projects, and even produce their own multimedia products. (fall – Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m.)

Philanthropy and Fundraising (UEP 191-B)
Patricia Bonner-DuVal, President, Bonner Enterprises

Overview of history and practice of organized philanthropy and fundraising concepts. Examination of opportunities and constraints of the various philanthropic sectors and the role of private philanthropic support in healthy nonprofit organizations. Strategic models and specific fundraising tools for planning and managing a sustainable nonprofit organization. Topics include funding strategy and research proposal development, private foundations, public foundations, corporate foundations and corporate giving and individual donors. (summer – Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 – 9:30 p.m.)

Proseminar in Museum Interpretation (ED 0282)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies

All visitor experiences in museums are mediated by the choices museum professionals make in the selection, interpretation, contextualization, and presentation of collections in exhibitions and programs. Students will interpret scholarship for a variety of audiences, examine strategies for interpreting difficult topics, and consider interactives that stimulate meaning-making. Students will also delve into strategies for facilitating community conversations and sharing authority in the creation of exhibitions, programs and projects. Because this is a seminar, a forum for discussion that prepares students for the professional world, we may modify the topics to suit student interests, needs, and expertise. Prerequisites: ED/FAH/HIST0285 and ED0280. (spring – Mondays, 6-9 p.m.)

Revitalizing Historic House Museums (HIST 0293A)
Ken Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions at Historic New England
Barbara Silberman, Independent Museum Professional

This course will address the challenges facing historic house museums today, including declining attendance, costly maintenance problems, and inadequate resources for collections care. Students will learn about the history of the historic house movement, the value of research, and the benchmarks of sustainability. Through case studies, they will investigate new approaches that address community interests and needs, creative ways to repurpose sites, and experimental strategies for engaging visitors through new exhibit techniques. (summer – Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-9:30 p.m. [6 week summer session course])

Teaching and Learning in the Museum (ED 0280)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies

An introduction to theories and practices of visitor engagement in the free-choice and life-long learning environments of museums. Students explore learning styles and characteristics of various audiences, including families, teens, people with disabilities, early learners and adults, and consider their motivations, expectations and needs when in museums. Using learning theories, knowledge of audience, and museum objects, students experiment with a variety of strategies to scaffold and assess engagement. Guest speakers and field trips connect classroom experience to current issues and practices in the field. (fall – Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m.)

Course days and times subject to change.