Programs by Campus


Museum Studies



  • MSTD-A 503 Introduction to Museum Studies (3 cr.)This survey of museology introduces students to the history of museums and to debates on the philosophical nature of museums and their roles in society. The course covers the types and definitions of museums, traces the history of museums, discusses contem­porary museum practice and examines current issues in the museum profession.
  • MSTD-A 505 Museum Methods (3 cr.)This survey of museum practice introduces students to methods, skills, and resources in three areas of museum work: artifacts, interpretation, and organi­zational administration, as well as to the ethical ramifications of these methods (course does not count toward the Master’s degree, but it does count toward the graduate certificate).
  • MSTD-A 508 Museum Internship (1-6 cr.)P: A503 and two other museum studies graduate courses or consent of the instructor. An arranged learning experience in museum work appropriate to individual career goals, focusing on an aspect of museum practice and working with a museum mentor. May be repeated for credit.
  • MSTD-A 510 Museum Education (3 cr.)P: A503 or consent of instruc­tor. This survey of museum education introduces students to a variety of professional skills through exercises, projects, museum visitor observation, and in-museum classes. It covers education theory most central to museum practice, the duties of museum educators, and current issues in museum educa­tion. (Core course)
  • MSTD-A 509 Applied Research in Museums (3 cr.).An interdisciplinary research practicum conducted in collaboration with museum studies students, faculty and museum partners. The course provides students with an opportunity to work in conjunction with museum professionals to conduct research and carry out public projects in museum settings. The course may focus on exhibition planning, public programs and symposia, curatorial projects, and national collaborations.
  • MSTD A511: Object –Based LearningThis class is about objects, broadly construed, and our relationship to them in and out of museum settings. The class examines the multiple ways that people learn from and with objects in museums using a range of disciplines including education, history, semiotics, material culture, anthropology, and psychology. Students will investigate the strategies needed to fully support learning from and with objects in the museum setting and consider how visitors learn through their transactions with objects.
  • MSTD-A 512 Exhibit Planning and Design (3 cr.)P: A503 or consent of instruc­tor. This course offers a survey of museum exhibit plan­ning and design through an integration of theory and practice. The class introduces students to exhibit development, includ­ing exhibit administration, design, and evaluation, and to a variety of professional skills through hands-on exercises, exhibit critiques, museum observations, and in-museum classes. (Core course)
  • MSTD A513: Curatorial Practices This seminar-style course will examine current and historical curatorial practices in museums and other exhibition contexts. Case studies will introduce a range of approaches to the storytelling practices involved in curatorial work.  Over the course of the semester students will also develop and execute their own curatorial project.
  • MSTD-A 514 Museums and Technology (3 cr.)P: A503 or consent of instruc­tor. This course surveys the growing use of technology in museums. It examines applications for information man­agement in collections, conservation science, and archives. It examines critically the use of technology in the service of edu­cation both in exhibit contexts and in the variety of educational programs and Web-based dissemination of knowledge.
  • MSTD-A 516 Collections Care and Management (3 cr.)P: A503 or consent of instruc­tor. A survey of techniques for the manage­ment and care of collections in museums. It covers documen­tation, management of collections, processes, administrative functions, risk management, and ethical and legal issues. The course also covers the physical care and conservation of collec­tions. (Core course)
  • MSTDA517: Preventive Conservation This course offers a theoretical and practical investigation of preventive conservation which aims to eliminate or modify conditions that encourage deterioration. Preventive conservation is the broadest technique by which preservation of museum objects and collections is achieved. Emphasis is placed on measures that prevent or reduce the potential for damage and loss. Central to preventive conservation methodology, topics include handling procedures, proper storage, environmental management, agents of deterioration, risk analysis, emergency preparedness and planning.
  • MSTD-A 518 Museums and Audiences (3 cr.)P: A503 or consent of instruc­tor. This course examines the ways museums seek to better understand their audiences, serve them more effectively, and strive to reach new audiences. The course looks at a broad range of visitor studies and the ways in which museums and audiences interact.
  • MSTD A521: Museum Theatre and Live Interpretation The purpose of this course is to provide an in-depth look at the use of museum theatre and live interpretation in museum settings to advance the educational mission and nature of museums. The class examines theatrical techniques, program development and management, and interpretation approaches for a wide variety of museum exhibits and audiences.
  • MSTD-A 530 Museum Colloquium (3 cr.)This course provides graduate students with the tools and knowledge necessary to assess, understand, and utilize the links among their education, goals, and career opportunities. It supports graduate students approaching the end of their degree program in 1) exploring the connections between the museum knowledge they have mastered and the skills they have developed, 2) framing and articulating their knowledge and skills as well as their vocational goals to others including prospective employers, 3) developing critical competencies for community-focused museum work, and 4) creating professional plans as they transition   into or advance in the work force or pursue further education.
  • MSTD A531: Critical Approaches to Museum Practice This class examines the potential of applying critical pedagogical methods to curatorial practices, interpretation, museum education, and exhibition development as a way to focus on engaging the visitor with artifacts, opening up civic discourse, and promoting deeper connection to community.
  • MSTDA540: Cultural Heritage This course explores a variety of issues related the stewardship of cultural property on a local, national, and global scale. Through readings, case studies, discussion, and a semester-long project, students will explore ethical, economic, legal, political, and pragmatic issues related to tangible and intangible heritage and will increase their understanding of the practices and processes of cultural heritage management.
  • MSTD-A 548 Museum Administration (3 cr.)This course presents an overview of issues faced by administrators and mid-level managers who work in museums, historical societies, archives, special collection libraries, and other cultural resource agen­cies. Topics, speakers, and readings are focused on issues that are unique to agencies that collect, preserve, and interpret cultural resources. (Core course)
  • MSTD-A 560 Current Topics in Museum Studies (3-9 cr.)Intensive graduate-level study and analysis of selected topics in museum studies. Topics will vary from semester to semester. Includes topical courses such as Museum Communication Strategies, Museums and Sustainability, Museum Ethics, Museums and Indigenous People, African-American Museums, Archaeological Curation. May be repeated three times for 9 credits.

Current Topics and Special Topics Course Descriptions

  • MSTDA560: Current Topics in Museum Studies (3 cr.) Intensive graduate-level study and analysis of selected topics in museum studies. Topics will vary from semester to semester – see specific course descriptions below. May be repeated for credit.
  • MSTD A560: Current Topics: Community Collaboration & Curation (3 cr.) This course was created for students in various fields, including anthropology, museum studies and Native studies. Students will participate in a community-based, community driven project while gaining a deeper understanding of Anishinaabe culture (Ojibwa, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples of the Great Lakes region). This course will include lectures, group discussions, and a community component off-campus that will take place at tribal museums and culture centers in the Great Lakes region (details and dates to be announced).
  • MSTD A560: Current Topics: Museums, architecture, and the politics of space (3 cr) When museum scholars and professionals discuss the social function of the museum, they often consider how the institution operates as a temple, or place to find enlightenment, and a forum, or community center. Recognizing that this language is rooted in architecture, this course will examine the ways in which museum buildings and their grounds reflect mission, shape visitor experience, and shed light on the complex relationships between a museum and the communities it serves or alienates. Through readings, visual analysis, site visits, and discussion, students will consider exhibition spaces ranging from the converted European palaces of the eighteenth century to the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Students will apply concepts and methods from our group study in independent research projects about local museums and their grounds.
  • MSTDA560: Current Topics: Museums and Indigenous People (3 cr.) This class examines the rapidly changing relationships   between museums and Indigenous peoples and explores a wide range of topics from repatriation; to appropriate and culturally sensitive care of objects; to the inclusion of Indigenous voice in exhibitions and programs. The course incorporates a range of learning methods including, video, occasional lectures, guest speakers, museum visits, and hands-on projects.
  • MSTDA560: Current Topics: Museum Ethics (3 cr.) This course introduces current ethical concerns relevant to museums and the various audiences they serve. It focuses on the philosophical and practical dilemmas faced by exhibiting institutions in their efforts to formulate and fulfill their missions. It pays particular attention to the relationships between the   governing bodies of these institutions and their staff, their intended audiences, and the source communities which they represent. The course also provides an historical framework tracing the development of these issues In order to contextualize the present situation.
  • MSTDA560: Current Topics: Issues in Native American Representation (3 cr.) From sports mascots, tourist “junk,” and New Age paraphernalia to superb films and museum exhibits, the images of Indians presented to the public and Indians themselves become confusing and often are stereotypical. Through readings, videos, online materials, and hands-on projects   using exhibits in the Eiteljorg Museum, the course will consider a wide range of issues including economics, ethics, authenticity, stereotyping, and sovereignty. Because the subject matter cross-cuts the realm of Indigenous issues, the class   and readings will necessarily touch upon similar issues in non-Native American Indigenous cultures.
  • MSTD A560: Current Topics: Indigenous Object Care. (3 cr.) This course encouragesstudents fromvarious fields, including anthropology, archaeology, history and museum studies, to think beyond the tangible qualities and physical care of objects made by Indigenous communities throughout the world.  Students will explore the complex historical relationship between Indigenous communities and museums; consider the deeper meanings embedded in cultural heritage, intellectual property and the relationships, past and present, that define and redefine meaning.  Through contemporary case studies, students will examine the ways that communities are re-shaping museum practice while simultaneously re-defining “the museum” in response to community needs and priorities. Students will be challenged to think “beyond the museum” and realize that a museum is a fully Western concept that reinforces colonialism.
  • MSTDA560: Current Topics: Museum Education Research Methods (3 cr.) This course is an overview on the theoretical foundations of educational research and practical application of those methods in a museum setting. It incorporates an overview of techniques in museum education and visitor studies research, and emphasizes the utility of research in museum education practices. Students will participate in project-based activities with museum professionals and researchers, as well as become active consumers, reviewers, and advocates of research in the museum field.
  • MSTD-A 595 Independent Learning in Museum Studies (1-9 cr.)A supervised, in-depth examination through individual reading and research on a particular Museum Studies topic selected and conducted by the student in consultation with a faculty member. May be repeated three times for 9 credits.

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