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University Bulletin: Graduate Programs The George Washington University  



Committee on Museum Studies

K. Rice (Director), M. Atkin, J. Blomster, M. Coughlin, M. Morris, L. Schiavo, J. Vlach

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences offers an interdepartmental program leading to the degree of Master of Arts in the field of museum studies. The program is designed for those who seek a deepening of their primary academic interest along with training in the broad range of talents required in the successful operation of museums. The goal of the program is to produce graduates who are prepared to assume museum positions that require both scholarship and functional skills. (Students whose career interests are primarily curatorial should consider applying for the Master of Arts in their academic discipline with a concentration in museum training; those interested in museum education should refer to the Master of Arts in Teaching under the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.)

Students applying to the Museum Studies Program must meet all general requirements for admission to Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The student must have an undergraduate major, or its equivalent, relevant to the proposed academic core and must be able to demonstrate a sufficient breadth of academic preparation to support the proposed graduate course of study. Prior museum training is strongly recommended.

In preparing the academic core portion of the program of study, students draw on courses offered by the appropriate academic departments. Courses that pertain to the museum studies portion of the program are described below and are supplemented by additional courses offered by other departments, such as American Studies, Anthropology, History, Educational Leadership, Fine Arts and Art History, and Theatre and Dance.

Master of Arts in the field of museum studies—Required: the general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The degree requires a minimum of 42 hours of course work, including MStd 6101 and 6201. At least 15 credits of course work must be in an academic core discipline, such as American studies, anthropology, biological sciences, hominid paleobiology, history, or an appropriate interdisciplinary combination. (A formal concentration in art history is possible only in the Department of Fine Arts and Art History.) At least 15 credits of course work must be in museum studies courses that concern such functions as museum administration, collections management, exhibiting, and object care and conservation. At least 6 credits must be in museum internships in the Washington area or elsewhere. The student must pass a comprehensive examination based on course work and submit a research paper.

Three graduate certificates are available. The 18-credit graduate certificate in museum studies is primarily for international museum professionals who wish to study museum administration, collections management, or exhibition development in the United States; this certificate is also available to U.S. students who hold at least a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. The 12-credit graduate certificate in museum collections management and care is offered via distance education to qualified domestic applicants who have museum experience and staff-level access to a museum and its collection. The 18-credit graduate certificate in exhibit design is offered by the Museum Studies Program in collaboration with the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Interior Architecture and Design Program. Additional information can be obtained from the Museum Studies Program.

6101 Museum Management (3) Morris
  Overall operation of the museum: legal status of the museum and its obligations to the public; governance, staffing, policymaking as a nonprofit organization. Theory applied to practical situations. (Fall and spring)
6102 Fiscal Management (3) Staff
  Basic concepts of general accounting; fund accounting for nonprofit organizations; budgets and budget systems; use of the budget as a management tool; long-range planning; income sources; other financial management concepts. (Spring)
6103 Leading Change in Museums (3) Morris
  Leadership challenges and styles as they relate to organizational change efforts. Case studies of museums undergoing change; best practices in leadership at all levels of the museum. (Spring)
6104 Managing People and Projects (3) Morris
  Organizational development and modern management concepts as applied to museums. Managing people in the organization; the importance of project management systems to museum administration. (Fall)
6201 Museum Collections: Theory and Practice (3) Staff
  Establishing collections policies; laws, regulations, conventions, and codes that affect acquisitions, deaccessions, loans, and collection care; accountability; access problems. (Fall and spring)
6202 Museum Collections Management (3) Staff
  The implementation of collections policies: establishing and managing collections, management procedures and systems, documentation of collections, records preservation, collections access and storage, handling, packing and shipping, and inventory control. (Spring)
6203 Preventive Conservation Concepts (3) Staff
  Historical development of preventive conservation in museums, conservation ethics, team approaches to conservation, interactions of various materials with agents of deterioration. Basics of materials testing, preparation of condition reports, choosing museum storage and exhibition materials, and risk assessment. Same as Anth 6203 and AH 6286.
6204 Preventive Conservation Techniques (3) Staff
  Practical applications of preventive conservation of materials, monitoring environmental conditions, conducting risk assessments, evaluation of exhibit and storage areas; developing plans, policies, and procedures for collections care; grant proposal preparation for collections care initiatives. Same as Anth 6204 and AH 6287.
6301 Museum Exhibitions: Curatorial Research (3) Rice
  Museum research from a curatorial point of view, with emphasis on exhibit theory and practice. Research techniques, information sources, and script production. (Fall)
6302 Museum Exhibition Design (3) Staff
  The processes of research, conceptualization, planning, and evaluation from a designer’s point of view. (Fall)
6303 Exhibition Design Studio (3) Staff
  Individual projects with some group collaboration. The designer’s vocabulary, visual thinking, design documentation, and specifications. (Spring)
6304 Museum Exhibition Development (3) Rice
  Research techniques; information sources; script production from a content perspective. (Spring)
6305 Museum Evaluation of Exhibitions (3) Staff
  Theory and practice of museum evaluation, specifically as it relates to exhibition development.
6501 Museum Internship (1 to 6) Staff
  Individual work experience in museums of the Washington area and possibly elsewhere. Each student should make arrangements with the Museum Studies Program staff. Museum internships are supervised by one or more members of the cooperating museum staff in the areas of museum management, object care and conservation, and exhibiting. (Fall, spring, and summer)
6502 Directed Research (3) Staff
  Individual research on special topics in the museum field. Topics must be approved by the director of the Museum Studies Program. May be repeated for credit. (Fall, spring, and summer)
6601 Special Topics (3) Staff
  May be repeated for credit provided the topic differs.
6701 Museum History and Theory (3) Schiavo
  Museums viewed from historical, philosophical, and practical perspectives. Examination and comparison of types of collecting organizations. Analysis of contemporary studies on the status of museums and their public programs. (Fall)
6710 Museums and Technology (3) Staff
  Same as Educ 6710.

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© 2013 University Bulletin
The George Washington University All rights reserved.

Information in this bulletin is generally accurate as of fall 2012. The University reserves the right to change courses, programs, fees, and the academic calendar, or to make other changes deemed necessary or desirable, giving advance notice of change when possible.