Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Hello from Your New Editors!

Hello and Welcome Back!

It’s graduation time in academia! A time to pass torches, hand over keys, etc. As rising second year students in the Tufts Museum Studies program, we are very excited to take over where Dominque and Andrea left off, and we wish them heartfelt congratulations and lots of luck as they make their way into the museum world.

For our first post, we want to take a moment to introduce ourselves and let you know who we are and what we hope to bring to the blog this year. We also want to hear from you, to make sure this space responds to what you want to have in a museum studies blog. Please leave comments or drop us a line at our email in the sidebar.

With that, please bear with us for the long post this week and allow us to introduce ourselves!

Danielle Bennett, Museum Studies and History

Hi, I’m Danielle and I’m so pleased to be co-piloting this blog through the next year! I am a student in the Museum Studies and History program so I hope to bring you news and perspectives on that side of the museum field from little historic houses to large institutions.

I study American history, and am particularly interested in the intersections of race, gender, and class as the United States industrialized and took on the dimensions we know today. I am deeply interested in civics education in the United States and believe that museums have a large role to play as informal educators of both students and adults. I am a believer of the importance of polyvocality within museums – both on the exhibit floor and in the development stages, and strongly believe in grounding museums within their communities for mutual benefit. I hope to highlight these issues in the blog in coming months.

I received my BA in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which was undoubtedly an influence on my historical interests. I am based in New York City, where I spent time working as a political and labor organizer before spending several years at a telecommunications tech startup. I am currently a Teaching Assistant for the Tufts History Department and I work as the Social Media Manager for the Alice Austen House in Staten Island, NY. This historic house museum gets to weave threads about an early female LGBTQ figure, New York City history, and photography into a unique story with a lot of contemporary resonance. If you’re ever in New York, make sure you pay us a visit! I’ll also soon be interning with New-York Historical Society, one of the first museums in the country, with a collection that ranges from Tiffany Lamps to vintage board games, to protest signs from the 2017 Women’s March, and beyond! I hope to share perspectives on presenting history influenced by both of these organizations.

Amanda S. Wall, Museum Studies and Education

I am Amanda and am so excited to be your new Museum Education Editor. I am originally from New York by way of Los Angeles and have just completed my first year in the Museum Education M.A. program. My journey to Museum Education started as a child with a love for museums and archaeological sites. I loved learning everything and was always so enthused to share what I learned with others. Museums were a way to connect with the past to understand the present. This love led me to pursue a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish, concentrating in Bioarchaeology, at SUNY New Paltz. While at New Paltz, I had the chance to conduct research on a newly discovered skeletal population culminating in a final project and poster on sex determination. I also had the opportunity to attend an Archaeological field school at the National Historic Landmark, Historic Huguenot Street. Upon graduating, I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer with City Year New York working with students at an East Harlem elementary school.

Although I loved both archaeology and education, I wasn’t clear on how I could pursue both interests until I began volunteering at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. I started as a Gallery Interpreter, becoming certified in five different exhibitions as a Docent-in-Training, before moving on to the Vertebrate Paleontology collections team where I worked rehousing, inventorying, and researching archival techniques. My experience at NHM led me to realize that a profession in the Museum field would be a perfect way to merge my two academic interests. In the coming year I will be interning with the MIT Museum and the Tsongas Industrial History Center. In my free time I love to hike, travel, and play with my dog. As the Tufts Museum Studies Blog’s Museum Education Editor I will be focusing on museums and the public sphere, both in terms of education and how we are relating to and engaging our public.

Kelsey Petersen, Museum Studies and Art History

Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Petersen, and I will be representing the art history side of Tufts’ Museum Studies program! Before I introduce myself, I would like to say a big thank you to Andrea and Dominique for this past year of thought-provoking discussions, helpful job postings, marvelous newsletters, and of course for their enthusiasm for all things ‘museum.’ We’ll miss you, and best of luck as you launch into your next stage of museum work!

It surprised me how fast my first year as a Master’s candidate in art history and museum studies flew by; in some ways it feels like we were just in Museums Today, debating the Berkshire Museum and exploring the multifaceted roles museums cast in our communities. As I reflect on my coursework over these past two semesters, I realize my favorite areas of learning occurred when discussions from my art history and museum studies courses intersected. For example, I first learned about decolonization methodologies in Museums Today, when I studied the Abbe Museum as a case study of a museum that has transformed its display, collecting, and consulting practices to prioritize Wabanaki voice. These critical methodologies are what I often ground myself in, whether it is in an African Art seminar or Exhibition Planning. Overall, I hope to bring these interdisciplinary intersections with me into my new role as co-editor, and further connect art historical approaches to the museum world.

Now for a little about my background: I grew up in the Bay Area, California and lived in Los Angeles as an undergraduate, so I must confess my first New England winter was a little challenging to get used to (although I did enjoy all the activities that came with it, like cider donuts and snow days). Now that spring is here and the sun is back out, I’m excited for more bike rides! Wherever I go, my bike and a book are usually not too far away.

My first entry point into the museum world was when I worked in a visitor services position at a contemporary art museum. I quickly fell in love with the power of art to connect people and ideas, and wanted to become more involved with the behind-the-scenes aspect of programming. After interning in the education department at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, I knew for sure this labor of love was for me, and decided to pursue my Master’s for more related opportunities. Since moving to Boston and starting the Tufts’ program, I started a collections internship at the Fitchburg Art Museum, and have happily discovered another possible career niche. Ultimately, this first year in the Tufts’ dual program has been incredible, and I can’t wait for another year of enjoyable challenges, new perspectives, and learning.

We are really looking forward to further exploring and discussing the museum world with you, and we welcome you to contribute as guest author at any time!

Within these Walls: My Summer Experience in the Revitalizing Historic House Museums Course

This post comes to us from Emma Cook, a student in the History and Museum Studies program. She reflects on her experience in the program’s summer course Revitalizing Historic House Museums. For anyone interested in taking the course, go to – registration opens Monday, April 9.

Historic house museums are the largest category of museums in the US. As future museum professionals, we are likely to work with a historic house site sometime in our careers. I found the Revitalizing Historic House Museums course to be an integral component of my graduate education and future career. What makes the course unique is the first-hand experiences provided throughout the class. Case studies, guest speakers, blog posts, and field trips in correlation with our class assignments provided practical skills and knowledge.

What I most enjoyed was visiting historic houses in the area. The first site we visited was the Eustis Estate in Milton, MA. The Eustis Estate was built in 1878 and is the only example of William Ralph Emerson’s significant contribution to American architecture. This historic house was recently opened to the public by Historic New England in May 2017. The Eustis Estate provided a model of new technological approaches being introduced to historic house museums. In-gallery media provided interpretation of the Eustis Estate and a full-scale mobile guide created greater access of the content to visitors. Discussions with staff taught us how the historic house was cared for and updated. The Mementos jewelry exhibition, presented by
Historic New England, demonstrated what new exhibition techniques are used in historic house museums today. I found this experience fascinating, as we were learning first-hand how the Eustis Estate was transformed from a home into a house museum.

The highlight of my course experience was visiting the Kennedy Family Cape House in Hyannis, MA. Our final project of the course was to prepare a report describing the best and highest uses for the property. Kennedy family members gave the home to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute (EMK) to preserve and open to the public. The home itself is nearly completely intact. Photographs of the family line the walls of the home along with artwork by Jackie and Edward “Ted” Kennedy. A table with coffee ring stains in the sunroom marks the place where Ted Kennedy did his work. From JFK’s bedroom (untouched since his death) to the Kennedy grandchildren’s measurements written on the wall in one of the halls, the family
home breathes life and represents a story that wants to be shared. As the only graduate class allowed to visit the site, having the opportunity to not only walk through the Kennedy home, but also create a project that would be viewed and considered by the EMK in their future planning for the site, was a once in a lifetime experience. The responsibility of creating new plans for the house and doing it well, has earned Tufts students the opportunity to continue visiting.

This course was the best part of my summer! What you learn from this class is both inspiring and rewarding. This course prepares you for a role in historic house museums and gives you tools you can apply in many areas of professional practice.

To register go to: You do not need to attend Tufts to register. Those wishing to audit the course are welcome. The first summer session begins on May 24 and ends on June 30. Class is from 6-9:30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.


Upcoming Museum Studies Virtual Information Session

Are you interested in learning more about the Tufts University Museum Studies Program? Are you an alumni that knows someone who might be interested in learning more about the program? On Monday, February 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm EST, Program Director Cynthia Robinson will be hosting a virtual info session on the Museum Studies graduate programs. During the session, Cynthia will discuss the program’s scope, philosophy, and application process, and will answer questions. Click here to register for the session!

Upcoming Tufts Museum Studies Open House

Museum Studies Open House
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
6:30-8:00 pm
Register by email: Angela Foss
Want to learn more about the masters of art and certificate programs in Museum Studies at Tufts University? Register for our open house!

This flexible program is suitable for both beginning and mid-level museum practioners. We offer three masters’ degrees that combine exciting coursework in a specific subject with pre-professional training for the museum field. We also offer a certificate program that provides post-baccalaureate students with the chance to discover new skills, learn about current trends, and participate in an internship at a museum anywhere in the world.

Students also benefit from Tufts’ location in the greater Boston area, one of America’s most important hubs for museums and historical societies. The wealth of museums provides a host of opportunities for on-site learning, internships, and networking.

  • The Master of Arts: Art History and Museum Studies gives students advance qualification in art history and a broad introduction to museum work and theory. The program integrates the theoretical study of art history with the practical concerns of displaying, managing, and interpreting art objects in a variety of museum settings.
  • The Master of Arts: History and Museum Studies combines theory and practice by bringing together scholars of the Tufts history department and professional experts in museums studies.  By emphasizing historical scholarship and practical application, the program prepares students for public history as well as museum work.
  • The Master of Arts: Museum Education prepares students to work with audiences of all ages, interests, and abilities in the informal learning environment of a museum. We seek applicants who can bring new thinking and leadership to the field at a time when museums are increasingly focusing their resources on community engagement, civic issues, and global problems. Students take courses in education, human development, psychology, museum studies and content areas such as history or art history.
  • The Museum Studies Certificate Program is designed for recent college graduates, career changers, and those who currently work in museums. Museum studies courses, scheduled in the evening, teach new skills and address current trends in the field. The program can be completed on a part-time basis in as little as a year, with classes taught at night.
If you know anyone who wants to be part of today’s innovative museum culture and seeks a career dealing with new ideas, intriguing objects, and evolving technologies, I hope you’ll encourage them to apply to the museum studies program at Tufts University.  Please tell your staff, volunteers, interns, and friends about the upcoming Open House, and more information can be found on our website.

Special Tour Opportunity at the Tufts Art Gallery

Join a special tour at Tufts’ Art Gallery Thursday, April 14th, 5 – 6:30, related to interpreting violent histories. The current exhibition includes artwork by Marcelo Brodsky and Jorge Tacla addressing the legacy of violence in Argentina and Chile, in particular, and the tour will also include commentary by the Gallery’s Liz Cantor and Noe Montez, in Tufts’ Theater program. Dr. Montez’s new work is focused on survivor-tour guides at former torture sites in Argentina. He is exploring how traumatic history is performed for visitors, and he and Liz have devised a way to weave those issues into the exhibition tour.

If you’re interested, please send an RSVP to

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