Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Category: Tufts Program (page 3 of 11)

Welcome New Museum Studies Students!

Last night was the orientation for the incoming Museum Studies students. Jess and I tagged along to meet them all and to talk about the blog, and we are so excited about the newcomers! There are a lot of intelligent, enthusiastic and passionate people coming in to the program. There is a wide variety of interests and experiences, which will lead to some captivating guest posts.

We heard from Cynthia Robinson, the director of the program, and many of the Tufts professors (most of whom are working in museums as their day job) about their plans for their courses. There have been some changes to the courses since last semester, so check them out here if you haven’t had a chance to take a look. It definitely made me wish I could take more than four courses a semester!

A portion of the new students listen to Cynthia Robinson, director of the program, as she discusses internship opportunities

A portion of the new students listen to Cynthia Robinson, director of the program, as she discusses internship opportunities

We wish everyone the best of luck with the new semester! We’re both here and available to talk about the blog, about Tufts, or about life in general. If you’d like to post something (or many things!) on the blog you can contact us at – we’d love to hear from you! Remember that you can submit papers that you’ve written for class or reviews of museums that you are already going to in your free time.


Good luck this fall!

Colleen & Jess

Announcing the exhibit “F O C U S Experiments in Photographic Interpretation”

It’s that time of year again! The Exhibition Planning class is debuting a new exhibit.

There are as many ways to react to a photograph as there are people viewing it. Focus: Experiments in Photographic Interpretation, hosted by the Tufts University Art Gallery, explores the power of photography and curation to prompt personal responses in viewers. Curated by graduate students in the Tufts University Museum Studies program, the exhibition will be open to the public from Tuesday, May 5 through Sunday, May 17, 2015. A public opening reception will take place on May 5 from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M.

On display are twelve distinct experiments in curatorial interpretation. Each student selected a photograph from the collection of Historic New England to use as inspiration. The photographs depict scenes of New England life from the turn of the 19th century. Subjects range from nature to technological innovation to family relationships. The exhibition featuring Construction of the Beacon Hill Tunnel, by Paul Rowell, chronicles the history of Boston’s public transportation system and its role in the daily life of the city. Kit with Her Mother, by Alfred Wayland Cutting, celebrates the universal experience of aging, while Baldwin Coolidge’s The Wreck of the Warren Sawyer explores the encounter between a person and the sublime.

Various interpretive lenses—personal, historical, intellectual, aesthetic, empathetic—invite viewers to consider the power of photographic imagery and how curatorial decisions impact the visitor experience.

The Tufts Museum Studies Program, a collaborative effort of the education, art history, and history departments, trains students in the preservation, administration, and education skills required to work in museum and historic settings. The Exhibition Planning class, which produces an exhibition at the Gallery each year, teaches students how to take an exhibition from concept through opening.

About Historic New England

Historic New England is the oldest, largest, and most

comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation. Historic

New England shares the region’s history through vast collections,

publications, programs, historic properties, archives, and family

stories that document more than 400 years of life in New England.


About the Tufts University Art Gallery

The Gallery’s mission is to animate the intellectual life of the greater

university community through exhibitions and programs that explore new,

global perspectives on art and art discourse. The Gallery is open to the public

and fully accessible. Admission is free, with a $3 suggested donation. Hours

are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Thursdays 11 A.M. to 8

P.M. Free event parking is available in the lot behind the Aidekman Arts

Center, off Lower Campus Road. During regular visitor hours, there are free

parking spots in the Gallery parking lot.

Serving as Collections Intern at Old North — guest post by Jessica Nelson

Jessica Nelson wrote this piece for the Old North Foundation’s website, and Old North’s Director of Education Erin Wederbrook Yuskaitis, also from the Tufts program, suggested we share it here. Thanks, Jessica (and Erin)!


After almost 300 years of existence, an institution is bound to accumulate an interesting collection of objects. And having interned over the summer with the Old North Foundation, I can certainly confirm that this is a fact. I was brought in to be the first Collections Intern to work with the site, and as such had the opportunity to scour the site’s attic, basement, and many rooms. My responsibility was to document the works of art found within Old North’s campus. Although Old North is not what one would call a collecting institution, it is an historical site that has over time accumulated, often through generous donations from parishioners, a number of interesting and some valuable art pieces. One of the best ways to honor these donations and other acquisitions is through careful preservation.

Even though Old North’s art is not currently shown to the public in a crafted exhibition, it is visible throughout the Foundation and Church offices as well as in parts of the church itself. So as a student learning about the museum field, I was able to apply some of the museum world’s techniques when documenting the artworks at Old North. What exactly does that entail though? Well, I began by numbering the objects and creating condition reports for each one. These reports allowed me to describe the art piece detailing its materials and what it looks like as well as identifying if there is any damage to the piece. Creating these reports helps an institution keep track of the object and monitor how it holds up over time. After making condition reports for every object, I then took pictures of the objects as well. Attaching pictures to the condition reports is another means of recording an object’s condition and can help people who may work with these objects in the future more easily identify them.


The Foundation then ordered special archival papers and pens so that I could physically attach the identifying number I had given each object to the object in question. It is important to use archival quality goods as this helps ensure the marking materials won’t damage the art piece over time. I also had the opportunity to conduct some early research on the objects and how they came to Old North. Although many of the art pieces’ stories have been somewhat lost over time, there were a few active members of the church who were quite helpful in recovering their histories. All in all, the project went quite well, and hopefully the work I completed with the help of the Old North Foundation staff will serve as a good base for any future artwork they receive and help insure that all of their art is well preserved for future generations.

Tonight — Snapshots Opening Reception!

Don’t forget that tonight is the opening reception for the Museum Studies curated exhibition Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition. 

You’ve been reading their blog entries about their progress, now see for yourself what they’ve put together. Join them tonight from 5:30-8 at the Tufts University Art Gallery, 40 Talbot Ave, Medford MA 02155.

Congratulations, students!


The Importance of Collections Access on the Web

by guest columnist Elyse Werling

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

As a museum professional, you must be conscious of protecting your collection yet at the same time must facilitate access to the collection. For many, the question of whether to provide online collections access poses both risks and benefits. I have often heard that museums that post online access spur greater interest in their collections which in turn generates more visitors. I myself have often debated the risks and benefits to posting collections on line and until this point have been on the fence about it.

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