Courses

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Foundation Course (required)
Museums Today: Mission and Function (FAH 285)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies
Cara Iacobucci, Tufts Visiting Lecturer and 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)

Electives
Collections Care and Preservation (HIST 291/FAH 288)
Ingrid A. Neuman, Museum Conservator, Rhode Island School of Design Museum and conservator in private practice, Berkshire Art Conservation, Newton, MA

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: FAH 285. (spring)

Collections Management (FAH 284)
Margherita Desy, Historian, Naval Historical Center Detachment, Boston, MA

Every museum has a curator, registrar, or collections manager whose primary role is to oversee the use, management, and care of its collections. While types of collections may vary, these functions are critical to the success of all collecting institutions. This course examines the responsibilities of the curator collections manager, or registrar in documenting, researching, storing, and exhibiting objects. Students are exposed to various collection policies and registration methods, the acquisition process, loan procedures, and the numerous legal and ethical issues that surround accessioning and deaccessioning artifacts. Security, insurance, and access to and use of collections are also discussed. The class will make at least one site visit to view a collections storage facility at a local museum. Prerequisite: FAH 285. (fall)

Curriculum Development for Museum-School Collaborations (ED 281)
Tara Young, Deputy Director, Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA

Museum outreach programs serving school children and communities offer unique experiences to enhance learning. This course explores ways in which museums, national parks, and other cultural institutions can create partnerships with schools and communities to develop programs and curricula that highlight the value of the museum as a learning environment. Through an examination of the collaborative process, learning goals, curriculum frameworks, and methods for developing curriculum “kits,” students work directly with museums and schools to develop projects that meet the diverse needs of educational institutions. Prerequisite: ED 280 or instructor’s consent. (spring)

Exhibition Planning (HIST 289)
Kenneth Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions, Historic New England, Boston, MA
Cara Iacobucci, Tufts Visiting Lecturer and Independent Museum Professional

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: FAH 285 and one other Museum Studies course. (spring)

The Meaning of Things: Interpreting Material Culture (HIST 290)
Rainey Tisdale, Tufts Visiting Lecturer and Independent Museum Professional

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. (spring)

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

With this course, students will learn about the integral and critical role philanthropy and fundraising plays in sustaining and growing nonprofits such as museums, institutions of higher education, environmental health care and human services organizations. If you are planning a career in today’s nonprofit sector, this course will provide you with a better understanding of philanthropy and the skills to navigate the increasingly complex world of fundraising. Through this course, you will explore changing philanthropic and funding trends, stressors and sources, develop philanthropic criteria to determine the distribution of funds, while learning to use a variety of fundraising methods to engage and obtain support from individual donors, foundations and corporations. (summer)

Museum Evaluation (ED 0191C)
Christine Reich, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Museum of Science, Boston
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)

Museum History and Theory (FAH 160)
Dean Andrew McClellan, Professor of Art History, Tufts University, Dean of Academic Affairs, Arts and Sciences

Art museums weren’t born, they evolved. This course looks at the history and evolution of the art museum, from private collections to public institutions, and examines the evolution of museum design; the symbolic values of collections of art for individuals and societies; and the sociological and historical implications of the display of art objects. Also discussed are the problems facing contemporary museums: corporate funding, blockbuster exhibitions, and revisionist art history. (fall)

Museum Education and Interpretation (ED 280)
Jennifer DePrizio, Director of Visitor Learning, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

Today, museums and cultural institutions are trying to overcome their image as boring and stuffy places, reach a broader audience, and retain their loyal visitors. This course explores how to make a museum visit engaging and meaningful for families, school and youth groups, people with disabilities, and adults. Through the examination of learning styles, multiple intelligences, and leisure interests, students review theories about the expectations and needs of museum visitors. The class also examines the interpretive methods available to museums: hands-on activities, self-teaching materials, technology, outreach, tours, and drama. As the course progresses, students develop a proposal for a public program. (fall)

Museums and New Media (ED 286)
Jenna Flemming, Director, formerly Manager of New Media, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Could an iPhone change your museum visit? Technology-based museum initiatives encourage creative exploration, independent interpretation, multimedia contextualization, and improved information exchange in an engaging and entertaining way. They allow museums to enrich the experience of the visiting public while extending the boundaries of the institution to diverse and distant constituencies all over the world.

This course will engage students in exploring the pedagogical, technical, legal, ethical, and financial issues of using state-of-the-art media resources in museum-audience interactions. Students will examine the role of technology in the museum today and learn to manage digital information, design interactive web-based projects, and even create their own podcast. (fall)

Museums and Online Learning (ED 292-12)
Cynthia Robinson, Director, Museum Studies
Increasing numbers of museums are using the Internet to extend their educational mandate through online exhibitions, curricula, interactive experiences, and distance-learning courses to communicate with far-flung audiences, deepen relationships with existing constituencies, and establishing new audiences. Museum professionals must understand how and when to use the Internet for teaching purposes and how to design pedagogically sound online learning opportunities. In this course we will identify characteristics and tools of effective teaching and learning online, examine and evaluate the underlying pedagogy of online learning approaches in general and specifically (using case studies), and experiment with online teaching and learning ourselves. (spring)

Proseminar in Museum Education (ED 282)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies

Educators wear many hats! Expanding on the Museum Education and Interpretation course, this course covers some of the many skills and areas of expertise that museums educators are expected to have. Students will delve into interpretive methods, strategies, writing and planning, and will examine the development of teaching materials, education marketing materials, outreach programs, and programs for specific audiences. This course will also address aspects of museum education administration such as staff training and supervision, budgeting, and grant writing. (spring)

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)

Required Internship
Museum Internship (FAH 289/HIST 292/ED 284)
Cynthia Robinson, Director of Museum Studies

Once a student has examined the administrative and financial operations of museums, discovered the multitude of ways to present educational information, and gained an understanding of collections management, the next step is applying this knowledge. The internship gives a student firsthand experience in museum work. It is generally a one-to-two semester, 200-hour intensive 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)

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