Course Description

460.608 - The Business of Museums

Museums are stewards of cultural heritage and intellectual property, vortices of knowledge, and arbiters of taste. They are community icons, places of respite, and public education adjuncts. Museums don't necessarily deal in products for profit, yet they compete in an entertainment ecology. They must cultivate members, donors, government funds and corporate contributions, and rely on programs, gifts, grants, sponsorships, retail operations, and planned giving to survive. They must advocate for themselves in the legislative arena, while constricted by their nonprofit status. Students will become conversant in the fundamentals of museum business including mission, nonprofit status, transparency, governance, programming, management, finance, fundraising, facilities, legal and ethics issues, the impact of technologies, and everchanging audiences. They will achieve this through readings, thought-provoking essays, engaging discussions, museum news analysis, recorded public talks, and live online discussions with leading museum professionals.