Course Descriptions

The courses below include descriptions of courses offered in both the MA in Museum Studies and the Digital Curation Certificate. For complete Core Course requirements for the Digital Curation certificate, please visit the Certificate Requirements page.

State-specific Information for Online Programs

Note: Students should be aware of additional state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

  • Required Courses

    460.601 - Exploring Museum Professions

    Managing a 21st-century museum relies upon the coordinated efforts of a wide range of specially skilled staff from directors, curators, and educators to collection managers, conservators, and exhibition designers to event planners, press officers, fundraisers, and administrators to media, IT, membership, security, and facilities management teams. These professionals working behind-the-scenes or out front with the public define the quality of the institution and each visitor's experience. Through readings and interviews with leaders in the field, this course examines the core functions of a museum and explores how the roles and responsibilities of museum professionals assure an organization's daily operation, growth and sustainability. Current issues facing museums, including diversity in the workforce, financial challenges, and the effects of technology will also be addressed. In addition, students will engage in activities to help strategize their own museum career. Note: This course may be taken as an elective, if you have taken 460.602 to meet the requirement.

    460.602 - Museums in the Digital Age

    With the emergence of new media and the ever-expanding use of the Internet, the traditional role and scope of the museum is changing. The museum has a new position in global communication, dissemination of information and cultural understanding. The introduction of technology into the museum is challenging traditional exhibition concepts, introducing new interactions with museum audiences, and affecting the museum’s core operations. This course introduces students to the museum field and explores the impact of media and technology on the museum, including an overview of the historical role of the museum in society and an examination of the current uses and effects of digitization, the Internet, and wireless technologies in these institutions, as well as basic concepts underlying the planning of a technology project for a museum. Note: This course may be taken as an elective, if you have taken 460.601 to meet the requirement.

    460.610 - Two-Week Onsite Seminar

    A two-week intensive period of on-ground museum study in a location organized by the MA in Museum Studies program is a required component of the program. The seminar includes practicum opportunities in a variety of museum settings, conversations with local museum professionals, observation of and interaction with museum visitors, and class sessions to integrate the daily experiences. Using the rich diversity of museums, this course provides students with the chance to use what they have learned in their prior courses, develop networks with fellow students and museum experts, and explore the latest in museum practice, including exhibition design and development, public programming, collections management, conservation, and the uses of technology in the museum. Seminars have taken place in locations as diverse as Washington, DC, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, London, Berlin, and Barcelona. Students work in teams on directed activities during the two-week period. Note: Students must have completed a minimum of two courses in the program, although four or more courses are encouraged, to register for this course. One of these courses must be 460.601 or 460.602 and some seminars may have other specific requirements. Students are responsible for travel to and from the location, accommodations, and meals, as well as any specified field trip fees. Waiver option: Students who are unable to travel to a seminar location due to accommodation needs, financial hardship, or family challenges may apply to the program director for an exemption to the two-week seminar. If a waiver is granted, the student must enroll in the internship option (460.750) to fulfill the on-site component of the degree requirement.

  • Core Courses

    460.604 - Introduction to Museum Education

    This course introduces students to the educational role of the museum. What benefits and services does museum education provide in a pluralistic society? What do educators do within the museum organization? We begin by tracing the history of education in museums. We review theories about how people learn, what constitutes good teaching practice in the museum, and the unique role that objects play in an informal learning environment. We look at the different kinds of audiences for education programs, how to develop museum experiences including effective education programs and services, how evaluation works in gathering feedback and assessing outcomes in a museum setting, and the role of educators in inter- and intra-museum collaborative projects such as the development of exhibition interpretation, marketing for educational programs, audience building and interpretive planning. This course also considers the role and integration of digital technologies in the provision of educational services, products and programs. As a culminating project, students research and develop a conference proposal based on an education-related topic of their choice.

    460.606 - Exhibition Strategies

    This course introduces the diverse strategies and approaches used in exhibition planning, development and implementation. It asks students to think critically about exhibitions and the interface between objects, concept and experience. The course focuses on visitor-centered interpretive design and is applicable to a wide range of institutions. Students spend much of the semester working together in small teams, collaboratively producing a comprehensive exhibition project as they walk through the practical steps in exhibition development and design. Note: Because of the high level of online group work, this course is not recommended for first semester students.

    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.

    460.611 - History & Philosophy of Museums

    From cabinets of curiosities to historical monuments and sites of memory, this course surveys museum history from a global perspective to examine how the museum’s function has changed over time. Students create a comprehensive timeline of museum history and philosophy—thinking through and visualizing the way certain concepts and events are related in time and across space. Through case studies and course readings in museum history, theory and methods, students will contextualize the philosophical trends that have impacted organizational structures, outreach, collection strategies, and the museum’s role and relationship to its public.

    460.666 - Collection Management

    Museums exist to preserve and share their collections with the world. Collection managers, or registrars, are essential to any collecting institution, whether collections are art, history, science, or live specimens. This course focuses on management principles that can be applied broadly to any type of collection. The course covers all aspects of collections care from the acquisition of objects, evaluation, care and storage, through loans and exhibitions. Safe collections care and handling, using the most current methods, are emphasized so objects may be preserved for future generations. Any student who intends to work at a collecting institution will benefit from mastering the practical knowledge and skills underpinning many phases of museum work, which will be taught in this class.

  • Elective Courses

    460.609 - Museums in a Global Perspective

    In this intensive course, students participate in collaborative role play to debate urgent issues confronting museums in the 21st century. Through readings, research, and extensive teamwork, students explore, analyze, develop, and discuss a range of policies and procedures that link museums to international communities and trends. Students examine and experience (through simulation) the significant effects and challenges of a globalizing world on museum mission, preservation of cultural heritage, and exhibition practice. Students gain experience in debating global issues that will have an impact on the future of museums as well as developing and writing effective program proposals. The collaborative aspect of this course requires the flexibility to schedule working sessions every other week with an assigned team. Note: Students must have completed two courses in the program to register for this course.

    460.612 - Multimedia History, Theory, and Practice

    This course is an overview of the artists, scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, and engineers who have pioneered the scientific and artistic concepts central to our understanding of multimedia. It emphasizes a critical understanding of the crossdisciplinary nature of art, science and technology, crucial to the effective incorporation of new media aesthetics, production strategies, trends, and socio-cultural experiences into the museum environment. Seminal 20th-century interdisciplinary artistic movements and genres will be explored, i.e. kinetic sculpture, installation art, electronic theater, etc., to consider their interplay with the evolution of personal computing including: cybernetics, augmented intelligence, hypertext, graphical user interface, etc. Students will critique museum installations, online projects and educational exhibits, applying concepts learned in the course, to better understand how digital multimedia has come to define our contemporary museum experience.

    460.615 - Museums and Community Engagement

    This course explores how museums and cultural organizations of all sizes can strengthen their relationships with the communities they serve. No longer are museums measured and judged solely by their internal resources—collections, endowments, facilities, and staff—but rather by the external benefits and value they create for individuals and communities. Growing numbers of museums are learning to make their organizations more meaningful and relevant by involving their communities in ongoing planning and decision-making. They are reframing museum activities to focus on what matters to their communities. By getting involved in community challenges and developing new partnerships, they are identifying underserved audiences and creating memorable visitor experiences. As museums begin this journey towards community engagement, they are initiating and facilitating social change and moving towards social entrepreneurship. This course includes the theory and skills of community engagement, drawing on both research and practice for examples.

    460.616 - Museums, Law, and Policy

    Legal issues and concepts are a fundamental part of the day-today management of museums and the policies that shape the nature of museums. This course introduces students to the ways in which museums are affected by the law and key legal concepts. Discussions and assignments will address practical concerns as well as policy and conceptual matters, incorporated cases, mock negotiations, and group discussions. Students will be able to identify issues from hypotheticals and relevant legal concerns and resources. The course will help students understand legal matters in museum practice in an applied manner. Legal and policy discussions will include current issues in copyright, freedom of speech and censorship matters, and collections issues including cultural heritage developments.

    460.618 - Museum Controversies: Ethical Issues in Museums

    Museum directors, curators, and other staffers have faced an array of political and ethical dilemmas in an increasingly contentious environment. This course explores the historical, political, and cultural backgrounds to controversies surrounding exhibitions such as the Smithsonian’s display of the Enola Gay, the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s “Sensation,” the British Museum’s Elgin Marbles, and the showing of illegally acquired antiquities at various art museums. Nationalism, religious beliefs, obscenity, and “edutainment” are among the issues discussed.

    460.620 - Accessibility in the Museum

    Making museums and their information and collections accessible to people with disabilities concerns more than ramps and restrooms. People with disabilities can encounter barriers to every aspect of the museum experience, from finding out about exhibitions and educational offerings before a visit through advertising or the museum’s website; to getting to, into and around the museum galleries and other public spaces; to hearing tours and lectures, reading labels and signs, and using interactive tools; to participating in educational programs. This course will introduce students to the key concepts and issues associated with making museums accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities.

    460.621 - Evaluation Theory & Techniques for Museums

    This course covers evaluation theory, methodologies, and practical implementation of evaluation in museums and similar environments. The class explores the stages of evaluation, what can be achieved at each stage, and how to work with clients. Students practice developing clear evaluation questions, developing a robust evaluation plan, choosing appropriate methods, assessing the benefits and trade-offs of different evaluation strategies and designing and refining evaluation tools. Emphasis is given to the opportunities and challenges of evaluating all types of museum experiences (programs, exhibitions, architecture, wayfinding systems, various interpretive technology, etc.) from multiple points of view, including museum visitors and museum staff. Hands-on evaluation practice will be gained through testing and refining observation and interview tools in a museum setting.

    460.628 - Architecture of Museums

    This course serves as an introduction to museum architecture, including the history of museum buildings, as well as current case studies of renovations, expansions and new facilities. We will discuss the relevant topics in creating a physical museum space, such as developing a museum program, planning the visitor experience, developing wayfinding systems, building a green museum, and incorporating technology in the initial plan. We will analyze museum buildings from multiple perspectives, including visitors, staff and collections. Students will learn how to evaluate an existing museum building and will be guided through a mini-POE (post-occupancy evaluation) of a museum in their community.

    460.630 - Exhibition Design, Construction, and Documentation

    Understanding the exhibition design process, from concept to implementation, is valuable not just for exhibition developers, but also for registrars, curators and museum educators. Looking beyond artifacts, storyline and aesthetics, this course examines the rarely explored, but essential, aspects of exhibition design, from drawings and specifications to contracting and installation. Topics will include drawing packages and project documentation, schedules, client and developer responsibilities, project budget, architectural coordination, fabrication techniques, and legal and practical contracting considerations. As with general construction, the exhibition designers and fabricators follow industry standards, and whether a museum is a public or private organization, specific rules must be followed for solicitation and contracting. Prerequisite: Exhibition Strategies (460.606)

    460.633 - Core Aspects of Conservation: A 21st Century Approach

    The conservation, preservation, and restoration of cultural heritage is an increasingly complex practice within the museum context, and one that benefits greatly from widely-shared knowledge and collaborative networks. Today a variety of highly-specialized conservators perform treatments on individual items of high value, while at the same time there are a growing amount of conservation-related issues that collections managers, registrars, and others are responsible for in the process of caring for collections. This class will give students the opportunity to work in and around conservation issues and tasks, while assimilating and contributing to the existing body of knowledge in collections care (preventive conservation). A variety of media used to create and conserve artworks will be discussed. Assignments will be coordinated with or related to current web-based conservation projects, including Wikipedia, ConservationReel, and AIC’s Lexicon Project. Prerequisite: Collection Management (460.666)

    460.634 - Museums, Libraries, and Archives:Issues of Convergence for Collecting Institutions

    “Convergence” has been a buzzword for archives, museums, and libraries for most of the past decade. This course will look at areas of convergence among the three communities, focusing on issues that relate specifically to collecting institutions. Class work will involve the history of collecting and the development of the three communities (archives, libraries and museums) in the United States in the late 19th century/early 20th century, before delving more deeply into ideas and ideals, missions, professional training, conservation, ethics, and services that are shared among these communities. In the final weeks we will focus on how technology can help shape ongoing dialogues.

    460.635 - Curatorship: Principles and Practices

    Whether the museum is large or small, public or private, has several curatorial departments or a single director/curator, it must have a way to fulfill its curatorial obligations. Everyone in the museum should understand the institution’s curatorial responsibilities, and every museum should have a curatorial strategy suited to its collection and/or its exhibitions. In this course, students will study principles and practices relating to core curatorial functions and learn about the relationship of curatorship to the museum’s mission, ethical and other challenges facing museums, and how technology is changing the ways museums fulfill their curatorial responsibilities. Students will draft a position description for today’s curator, write an acquisition proposal, present an exhibition proposal, and visit museums to critique specific curatorial practices.

    460.636 - Living Collections

    Zoos, aquaria, botanical gardens, and nature preserves, like many other museums, are collection-based institutions. This course explores the unique character of these institutions in their core functional areas including the special considerations and challenges of caring for, interpreting, and exhibiting living collections. Developed by three museum professionals with specialties in terrestrial, aquatic, and botanic institutions-course topics are explored through the lenses unique to plants, animals, and marine life. In addition to understanding the core functional areas of these museums students will analyze the complex social role of cultural institutions which are devoted to the living world.

    460.637 - Curating Online Exhibitions and Experiences

    Today, every museum must have an effective online presence. Increasingly, museum professionals from multiple disciplines – curatorial, collections management, new media, publications, external affairs, etc. – need to collaborate to create online exhibitions and experiences. It is essential that museum professionals have a solid grounding in the theory of online curation, as well as the practical skills to plan, design, and implement online exhibitions and experiences that capture the imagination of online museum visitors. Students will discuss questions such as: What are the unique challenges of curating online? How are the aesthetics of online spaces similar and/or different from traditional bricks and mortar museum galleries and exhibit spaces? What strategies and methodologies can the curator and other museum professionals apply to successfully educate, inform, and engage online exhibition visitors? What are the trends in curating online museum exhibitions, and where does the future lie in this exciting new area of the museum field? Course readings, assignments and discussions will culminate in a research paper on current trends in online curation in museums.

    460.638 - Preservation of Analog and Digital Photographs

    This course will explore the main principles in caring for analog and digital photographic collections. It has been designed as a broad approach to the subject, but with enough depth to give the student an approach to the care for photographic collections with both historical and natively born digital photographs. This course will provide this insight from looking at the materials that photographs are composed of, understanding the materials and environment that they are housed in, and the technologies and workflows needed to care for analog and natively born digital photographs for long-term preservation. Students will be required to build and present a case study and a final project discussing a topic related to the course.

    460.639 - Material Culture and the Modern Museum

    From the Mona Lisa to Archie Bunker’s easy chair, museums play a critical role in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of objects. This course looks closely at the development of material culture studies and its connection to museums in the 21st century. Students will explore collecting as meaningful action, the classification of objects (from academic categorizations to tags and folksonomies) and their access (from collections to archives, to physical and virtual display). Student-developed object biographies will be used throughout the semester to explore the life history of objects, their changing meanings, and their relationship to self, society, and the museum. Note: Students are strongly encouraged to have completed two courses in the program before registering for this course.

    460.640 - Educational Programming for Museum Audiences

    Educational programming for today's museums requires more skills than ever before, from defining mission-driven educational goals to conducting summative evaluation, from understanding learning theory and characteristics of a myriad of museum audiences, to designing and implementing technology solutions. Students in this course will learn the steps needed to design sound educational programming in museums, including developmentally appropriate learning theory and strategies for audiences such as children, families, adults, teachers, and students. Prerequisite: Introduction to Museum Education (460.604)

    460.641 - Digital Media in the Museum

    Digital media is a crucial part of a museum’s visitor engagement strategy and it plays an integral role in such areas as informational programming, marketing, wayfinding, and interpretation. Students in this course will examine the impact of a wide range of technologies including mobile guides, multi-touch tables, augmented reality games, and immersive theater environments, on both museum professionals and visitors. Through readings, interviews with multimedia professionals, hands-on experience, and papers, students will learn the practical applications of digital technology while developing the critical skills necessary to evaluate both the use of technology and the best way to integrate it into the museum environment. This course provides students with the basic skills to plan, manage, and assess the production of successful in-museum digital media projects. Students will have the opportunity to produce their own project plan for a real or imagined production. Prerequisite: Museums in the Digital Age (460.602)

    460.645 - Museums and Mobile: Adapting to Change

    We live in a mobile-first world. The mobile revolution has profoundly altered our behaviors, transforming our very expectations of how we interact with the world around us: we now expect to get what we want on any device, at anytime, anywhere, at the touch of a finger. And we expect the same when interacting with cultural institutions. The future of museum technology lies heavily in the use of mobile platforms, but how should museums adapt to the future? Through presentations, interviews, guest speakers, hands-on experience, group discussions and collaborative assignments, this course will explore the many questions and issues facing cultural institutions as they try to adapt to this mobile mind shift, and how museums can leverage mobile as a platform for social conversation, deeper brand engagement, and of course opportunities for education. Students will learn how to leverage mobile to engage visitors, balance the need for curatorial direction with user participation, and how to redefine the museum experience for mobile visitors, both onsite and offsite. Prerequisite: Museums in the Digital Age (460.602)

    460.650 - Fundamentals of Writing

    Excellent writing skills are an essential element of every museum professional's position. This course is designed to help students improve their writing and communicate their ideas more effectively. Through weekly writing assignments geared to the museum profession, students will work to convey their ideas clearly, concisely, and effectively. Students will practice narrative, explanatory, and persuasive writing, with an emphasis on appropriate style, usage, and composition. Topics will include planning and organization; appropriate tone, voice, and audience; developing and supporting a thesis; and proper documentation and presentation. Course assignments will culminate in a short research paper and presentation based on a current museum topic.

    460.652 - The Practice of Museum Publishing

    As content originators, museum curators, educators, conservators, public relations officers, development staff, and others will hold a stake in the publications process at some point in their careers. This course presents an overview of the range of print and electronic publications typical—and not so typical—of museums and the processes required to make them happen. Students will gain an understanding of schedules and budgets, the editorial process, design concepts, copyright issues and printing, as well as how new technologies have affected both the way museums think about publications and how they get produced.

    460.655 - Expanding Roles of Museum Marketing and Communications

    Through guest presenters and a variety of media and platforms—including video, Voice Thread, PowerPoint, social media, and various Blackboard tools —for presentations and participation, and drawing from current and worldwide practices and examples, students will learn about what makes an idea go viral; internal and external audits; audience analysis; owned, earned, paid, and converged media; how to develop and evaluate a marketing strategy; brand identity; cultural tourism and collaborations; crisis communications and core values; stakeholder relations; and a new paradigm for museum marketing and communications operations. Starting in the first class, each student will select a museum and a target audience for which they will develop a marketing strategy that will be their final project.

    460.657 - Fundamentals of Museum Fundraising

    Through a combination of current and historical readings, case studies, discussions, and written assignments based on “real-life” scenarios, this course will cover general fundraising strategies and ethics, ePhilanthropy, prospect research, grant writing, annual and capital campaigns, corporate giving and cause marketing, special events and stewardship.

    460.660 - Culture and Management of Technology in Museums

    Technology plays an increasingly critical role in how 21st-century museums should operate their business, manage their information and engage with their audiences. To be a successful museum professional today, in any discipline, requires some understanding of the impact and opportunities that can be derived from the use of technology to support our initiatives, from supporting core museum functions like managing collections information and digital assets, to understanding the opportunities that the internet, mobile technologies and social media can provide to engage with our audiences. Understanding the principles that underlie various technologies and specific applications, and how the workplace and society influence our use of technology are crucial to understanding how museums can use technology to deliver on their missions. By providing a grounding in technology trends, principles, concepts, applications and philosophies, this course will provide non-technical students with the necessary knowledge and tools to assess, deploy and manage the use of technology in a museum environment. This course may be taken as a required course in place of 460.602 - Museums in the Digital Age.

    460.662 - Developing Museum Web Projects

    How can museums best use the web to further their missions? What are the best practices for planning and sustaining high-quality online projects? In this course, students will survey the application of online technologies for various purposes, including collections, education, exhibition, fundraising, collaboration, and marketing projects. The bulk of the coursework will focus on researching and creating the components of a Web project plan (for a project of the student's own choice and design). Students will gain hands-on experience with audience research and usability testing, articulating technology solutions to match desired goals, developing information architecture, building a basic online prototype, crafting a marketing and evaluation plan, and pitching a project idea for funding. A range of online technologies will be considered including websites, blogs, email newsletters, mobile applications, and social media.

    460.663 - Social Media Strategies for Museums

    From #AskACurator to Snapchat selfies, social media has permeated the work of museum staff and the people who visit them. In this course, we will explore social media trends and their relevance for museums, including marketing, fundraising, education, and curatorial functions. Students will explore case studies, talk with leading museum social media practitioners, and develop social media strategies to meet specific museum objectives.

    460.665 - Introduction to Archives

    This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of archives, including an overview relating to the elements of an archival program and the role and work of archivists. Special attention will be paid to the work of archivists in a museum context. The theoretical component of the course will be supplemented with a variety of hands-on exercises, case studies, and informed anecdotes designed to illustrate the relationship between theory and practice. Although American archival tradition will be the focus, international perspectives on archival theory and practice will play an important role in the course of study. Topics include: acquisition; appraisal; arrangement and description; preservation; reference; outreach; archival access systems; legal and ethical issues; and born-digital curation, including digital preservation.

    460.667 - Collection Management Systems

    Collections Management Systems, the workhorses of museum information technology, provide staff members and the public alike with access to collections information for a myriad of purposes. In this course, we will look at how these systems have evolved from their traditional role as registration tools to rich repositories of collection information, with the potential to interface with other types of systems, both inside and beyond the museum walls. This course introduces widely used museum Collections Management Systems in a series of developer-led presentations, providing students with the opportunity to evaluate how collections management transactions are performed using various software. Students will learn the basic features of Collections Information Policies and how to apply museum standards to analyze these policies. Data migration planning – from paper to electronic, and electronic to electronic --will be discussed, as well as emerging technologies used in conjunction with traditional Collections Management Systems. This is a must-have course for students with the goal of becoming a registrar, collections manager, or digital curator. Note: Students are strongly encouraged to take Collection Management (460.666) before enrolling in this course.

    460.668 - Cataloging Museum Collections: History, Standards, and Applications

    Cultural heritage institutions—including museums, libraries, and archives—have as core responsibilities the safeguarding of the objects in their care and the education of the public about these objects. To support both of these responsibilities, one of the foundational activities of cultural heritage professionals is the cataloging of the objects in their collections. This course will provide both an overview and practicum of cataloging definitions, philosophies, standards, and practices. Recordkeeping methods, numbering systems and data formats will be emphasized, and professionally accepted standards for cataloging various cultural objects will be reviewed. Discussion of the broad application of cataloging data sets, including cross collection aggregation and search, delivery to the public, and Web 2.0 and 3.0 delivery methods will be covered.

    460.670 - Digital Preservation

    This course introduces students to the current state of digital preservation, preservation challenges, and basic concepts for designing effective digital preservation plans and programs. Topics include the relevance of digital preservation for museums; archival principles that inform preservation practices; standards and policies; considerations in preservation strategies; issues relating to formats, repositories, and processes; and emerging preservation solutions and services. Note: Students who are not enrolled in the Digital Curation Certificate program are encouraged to take 460.666 Collection Management before enrolling in this course.

    460.671 - Foundations of Digital Curation

    This course lays a foundation for managing digital information throughout its life cycle by introducing students to the emerging field of digital curation and by examining the practical issues and tools involved in managing digital collections and repositories over time. Topics include metadata schemas for describing digital assets in different disciplines; sharing digital content beyond the institution to reach wider audiences; requirements for trustworthy repository services; management of research data; policy issues; and user services. Note: Students who are not enrolled in the Digital Curation Certificate program are encouraged to take 460.666 Collection Management before enrolling in this course.

    460.672 - Managing Digital Information in Museums

    preservation of digital assets, with an emphasis on the unique problems facing museums. Subjects will include the best practices for digital format conversion, the management of digital surrogates and derivatives, practical planning and design of workflow for digital curation, and a survey of the technologies (software, equipment, and metadata schemas) required at ingest, storage, access, and dissemination points in the Open Archival Information System model. These topics will be presented within the context of analyzing the digital asset management practices (in the broadest sense) of individual institutions and developing strategies for the curation of these assets. Prerequisite: Either 460.670 Digital Preservation OR 460.671 Foundations of Digital Curation; both are recommended.

    460.673 - Digital Curation Certificate Internship

    The internship, including at least 120 hours of field experience, affords students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with experts who are leading digital curation activities in museums and related cultural heritage organizations in the U.S. and abroad. The internship is a partnership between the university and the host institution, and is customized to meet each student’s needs and career goals. The program will assist students in arranging appropriate internships. Student interns will produce evidence of their accomplishments through work products, project reports, or other documentation in an online course component and will participate in online discussion forums with other students enrolled in digital curation internships during the same semester. The internship is usually taken after completing at least two of the following core courses: Digital Preservation (460.670), Foundations of Digital Curation (460.671), or Managing Digital Information in Museums (460.672). Note: Students should discuss internship plans with the Digital Curation Certificate Program Coordinator at least one semester before enrolling in the course.

    460.674 - Digital Curation Research Paper

    The supervised research course enables students to investigate a significant problem or issue in digital curation and to develop and demonstrate critical thinking and communication skills. Ideally, the research paper will build on the student’s internship experience. The research paper is expected to result in a publishable or presentable paper that makes a contribution to the literature and field of digital curation. As there is currently a significant need for research in digital curation, and relatively little published literature—especially relating to museums—student research in this program can make a major contribution, and graduates will be prepared for careers as leaders in the field. Course work, assignments, and meetings with a faculty member will take place in an online course environment. The research paper is normally completed as the final requirement in the Digital Curation Certificate program.

    460.675 - Leadership of Museums

    A museum career offers many opportunities for leadership. Whether you want to be a museum director or not, throughout your career you will lead individual projects, teams, departments, or organizations. This course is designed to introduce students to the nature and practice of leadership in the 21st-century museum. Regardless of an institution’s age, size, location, discipline, or its focus, leadership determines its tenor and tone. Leadership frames a museum’s intangible values while underpinning its tangible assets. It comes in many guises, proactive, reactive or benign, driving institutions forward or binding them to the past. Leadership can be a lightning rod for change or preserve an organization in amber. Good, bad or indifferent, it drives everything, yet in theory and practice it receives little direct attention. Underpinning this course is the philosophy that we each make leadership choices affecting boards, staffs and colleagues, as well as our own careers. This course focuses on personal leadership development, beginning with an assessment of students’ leadership strengths and weaknesses while building awareness of challenges, best practices, and practical workplace applications. Through reading, discussion, and projects students will deepen their understanding of their personal leadership capacities, grasp the importance of self-awareness to leadership growth, and utilize their skills across the rapidly evolving world of the 21st-century museum. Prerequisite: Students must have completed ONE of the following courses to register for this course: Business of Museums (460.608); History and Philosophy (460.611); OR Museums and Community Engagement (460.615)

    460.682 - Museum Procurement and Contracting

    Through case studies and case law, sample materials from a variety of museum projects and a smattering of underpinning statutes and regulations, students will learn the hows and whys of museum outsourcing practice. While conducting market research, drafting a scope of work, evaluating creatives and pricing approaches, and confronting ethical constraints, students will derive a practical road map for leveraging the marketplace to address museum needs. Students will learn best practices and acquire a deeper understanding of the contractual, legal, technical, and creative issues that museums typically face when working with vendors. Most importantly, students will acquire the tools necessary to help them navigate and set the expectations of their museum clients to assure successful collaboration between internal teams and external contractors.

    460.683 - Project Management in Museums

    Project management is the oversight and process of planning, organizing, and coordinating multiple tasks, resources, and stakeholders. In museum settings it often requires a choreographed juggle of scheduling, budget tracking, content and education considerations, facility and operations issues, and human resources; along with an ability to be flexible and calmly tackle unexpected challenges. This course will present both theoretical and practical concepts for initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and completing projects in a museum. Using real world scenarios and different types of projects, the course will, provide students with tools and strategies necessary for project scheduling, task supervision, and stakeholder management. Project management is a learned skill, useful not only to those who will ultimately oversee a project, but to everyone who may eventually be part of a project team.

    460.684 - Museums, Finance, and the Economy

    This course examines how changes in the economy can affect museum income, expenditures, fundraising, endowments and attendance. It explores how various museum practices can mitigate the effects of a weak economy and capitalize on a strong economy. Through case studies of large and small museums, students examine information sources that managers use to identify changes in the local, regional, and national economy, which might affect their institutions. Students gain familiarity with economic and museum financial information by adopting two museums and tracking how changes in their finances and attendance relate to shifts in the economy. This course is critical for all students interested in the “behind-the-scenes” of museum management, including those with little or no background in finance or economics.

    460.685 - Private Collections and Museums: The New Frontier

    An increasingly significant amount of our cultural and historical heritage is in private collections and outside the protective sphere of public institutions. Numbering in the tens of thousands in just the U.S., private collections span a great variety of objects reflecting the wide range of enthusiasts who collect them. This course will explore private collectors and trends in their collecting plus the similarities and differences between public and private collections and museums. It will help prepare students for the unique challenges they may face, illustrated by real world examples and interviews with collectors, curators, collections managers, and service providers plus hands-on experience. It will include developing problem solving strategies and project management skills they can use to adapt and implement institutional ethics and best practices, especially as private collections evolve into public museums. Prerequisite: Collection Management (460.666)

    460.686 - Culturally Specific Museums

    Museums have the potential to provide safe spaces for comprehensive cultural inquiry. Culturally specific museums provide strategic platforms for showcasing diverse sets of art, history and culture with the intention of reaching a broad set of visitors. This course examines the significance of culturally specific museums, both individually and in relation to mainstream museums, to better understand how public culture engages issues of art, history, aesthetics, religion, ethnicity, and politics. Through the combination of contemporary reading material, survey of six national culturally specific museums, synchronous and a-synchronous discussion forums and guest speakers, students will discuss some of the ways in which culturally specific museums help make up the fabric of culture represented in museums in the United States of America.

    460.690 - Science, Society, and the Museum

    Museums have been shaping the public discourse on science for centuries. They serve as a bridge between science and society, a way for general citizens to connect with, engage, and increasingly contribute to scientific understanding. “Science, Society, and the Museum” presents the history of this intimate relationship, detailing the connection and affect that science and society have on one another, and the museum as the documentarian of that relationship. From Darwin and Sputnik to global change and extinction, the course emphasizes the responsibility of museums—past and present—to embrace their role in communicating science and increasing the scientific literacy of an engaged population.

    460.691 - Innovation and the Modern Museum

    This course explores how museums today are searching for new ways to incorporate creativity and innovation in their missions, practices, displays, and programs. Like other educational and cultural institutions, they are seeking to nurture their own cultures of innovation and to play a greater role in “creative place-making” in towns and cities everywhere. This effort is not limited to the “Maker Faires” and exhibits about invention at science and technology centers/museums. It is also seen, for example, in art and design museum displays about artistic creativity, including digital art and videogame graphics; in exhibits about technological, social, and cultural invention in museums of history and anthropology; in novel approaches at children’s museums. Impossible to ignore is the spirit of innovation expressed in modern museum architecture. The course also looks to the future of museum innovation, in such areas as curation, education, and public outreach. It explores how cutting-edge digital technologies, including 3-D imaging and replication, and how ‘virtual museums’ will transform the interpretation and presentation of artifact collections, both within and far beyond museum walls. In weekly discussion forums and special projects, including the development of their own “innovation plans,” students will be encouraged to draw upon their own powers of creativity and innovation.

    460.750 - Museum Internship

    An internship at a student’s local museum, approved by the internship coordinator, may be substituted for one elective course. To fulfill the internship requirement, a student must complete a minimum of 80 hours of work onsite and a project, (either a research paper or a practical product) on an approved topic related to his/her experience, due at the end of the semester. Students also participate in online discussion and course work during the semester. Before registering for the internship option, the student should contact the internship coordinator for approval. At least four to six weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the internship will take place, the student must submit: 1) a description of the internship weekly duties including activities and/or responsibilities; 2) learning objectives and goals; 3) why this experience should be part of the Museum Studies degree; and 4) a signed letter of commitment from the internship supervisor. Students must have completed a minimum of two courses in the program before registering for this internship.

    460.755 - Museum Projects

    This course expands opportunities for practical experiences beyond the onsite seminar and internship elective. Offered as an online experience, this course will involve students in an actual museum or museum-related project. Students will work in collaborative teams facilitated by a JHU faculty member and engage with museum professionals outside of the program. The goal of the course will be to establish a prototype or complete a real-life project of value to the museum field while interacting with current museum professionals. Museum Projects will be offered on an occasional basis and will vary in topic. Different prerequisites will be set up each time the course is scheduled depending upon the specific project. In addition to weekly research, writing and asynchronous discussions in the course management system, students should expect to participate in five to seven real-time online meetings throughout the semester, dates of which will be determined by the Museum Project team in tandem with the project requirements and deadlines. Students must submit a Museum Project application form two weeks before registration begins to be approved for enrollment in the Museum Project course. On this form, students will describe their interest in the specific Museum Project offered and other applicable topics as requested, as well as confirm their ability to attend five to seven real-time sessions. A selection committee will review the applications and determine enrollment eligibility before the semester’s registration begins. Enrollment limits may vary depending upon the project.