All museum studies students take a minimum of five museum studies courses: two required and three electives.

Required Courses

Museums Today: Mission and Function (ED/HAA/HIST 285) (Required first course)
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, 6:00-9:00pm)

Museum Practicum (HAA0289/HIST0292/ED0284, and Summer: HIST 0292C, HAA 0289C, or ED 0284C)
Cara Iacobucci, Independent Museum Professional (Fall, Spring, Summer)

The purpose of the practicum is to provide an experience in a museum that links coursework to professional practices in which both the intern and the host site gain through a mutually beneficial relationship. The intern and the site supervisor define a specific practicum project or projects that are relevant to the intern's professional goals and the museum's needs. The intern is not a volunteer, but a professional-in-training. It is generally a one-to-two semester, 125-hour experience with specific projects and responsibilities. Most internships take place during the work week; evening and weekend internships can be difficult to arrange. Students must submit and receive approval on an internship proposal before registering for the course.* Prerequisites: A minimum of three Museum Studies courses, one of which must be ED/HAA/HIST 285, must be completed before beginning the internship. (Fall, Spring, Summer)


Course days and times subject to change.

ED 0280 Teaching and Learning in the Museum
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, 6:00-9:00pm)

ED 0281 Museum Education for K – 12 Audiences
Tara Young, Independent Museum Consultant

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/HAA/HIST0285 and ED0280. (Spring – Wednesdays, 6:00-9:00pm)

ED 0282 Proseminar in Museum Interpretation
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/HAA/HIST0285 and ED0280. (Spring – Mondays, 6:00-9:00pm)

ED 0286 Museums and Digital Media
Matt Kirchman, owner of ObjectIDEA, an interpretive design consultancy

Digital technologies are transforming the ways museums reach and engage audiences, both inside and outside of their buildings. Museums of all types are grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation, including shifts in authority, transparency, accessibility, ownership, interactivity, and attention. This online course provides an overview of digital strategy in museums today, with a focus on interpretive applications for education, exhibitions, marketing, and scholarship purposes. Students practice matching desired outcomes to appropriate technology solutions and will plan and test a digital project idea through hands-on application of user-centered design techniques. Guest speakers connect the learning experience to current issues and practices in the field, including technology failures and lessons learned. (Fall – Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.)

ED 0287-A Museum Evaluation
Joy Kubarek, Co-founder and Partner, Inform Evaluation and Research

This 6-week, online course will introduce students to contemporary issues of evaluation in museums as well as evaluation theory, methodologies, and implementation. Students will consider which evaluation strategy best fits the research question and program type. They will explore research design, protocol and ethics, measurement techniques, sampling, data analysis and interpretation, and reporting. 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 – May 24-June 30, 2023)

HAA 0160 The Art Museum
Andrew McClellan, Professor, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Tufts University

This course aims to make you an astute and informed consumer of the most powerful and pervasive art institutions: the art museum. Alternating segments on museum history, theory, and contemporary practice provide a critical framework to understand how and why art museums have evolved over time and function today, how they work ideologically in society, and why they generate controversy. Weekly topics will consider the most pressing issues facing museums today. Guest lecturers bring fresh perspectives from professionals in the field. (Fall – Tuesdays, 1:30 – 4:00 pm)

HAA 0284 Curatorial Approaches to Collections Management
Meghan Gelardi Holmes, Curator, Gibson House Museum and Colonial Society of Massachusetts

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, 6:00-9:00pm)

HAA 288/HIST 291 Collections Care and Preventive Conservation
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/HAA/HIST 285. (Spring – Wednesdays, 6:00-9:00pm)

HIST 215 Exhibition Planning
Kenneth Turino, Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England
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/HAA/HIST 285 and one other Museum Studies course. (Spring – Tuesdays, 6:00-9:00pm)

HIST 0289-A Revitalizing Historic House Museums
Ken Turino, Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England

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, 6:00-9:30pm)

HIST 290 The Meaning of Things: Interpreting Material Culture
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/HAA/HIST 285. (Spring – Thursdays, 6:00-9:00pm)

UEP 191-B Philanthropy and Fundraising
Patricia Kraeger, Associate Professor in the Department of Public and Non-Profit Studies at Georgia Southern University

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 – Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00-9:30pm, online)