460.601 - Exploring Museum Professions
Managing today's museum relies upon the coordinated efforts of a wide range of specially skilled staff. From directors to accountants, curators to educators, exhibit designers to event planners, registrars to conservators, IT to media, marketing to membership, security to facilities--the professionals behind a museum's walls define the quality of the institution and each visitor's experience. Through video and audio interviews with leaders in the museum field, this course examines the core functions of the museum and how the roles and responsibilities of museum professionals assure a museum's daily operation, growth and sustainability. Current issues facing museums including financial challenges and the effects of technology will also be explored. 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 affects 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 Washington, DC, or in another location organized by the 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 in the Washington area or an equally suitable site, 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 uses of technology in the museum. 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, one of which must be 460.601 or 460.602, to register for this class. 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 Washington, DC, or to other seminar locations, 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 onsite component of the degree requirement.
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? The course begins by tracing the history of education in museums. Students 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. The course looks 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.
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.
460.608 - The Business of Museums
Museums are stewards of cultural heritage, 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 and donors, while they rely on programs, gifts, grants, sponsorships, retail operations, and planned giving to survive. Students will explore the range, fundamentals, and subtleties of the museum business including mission, governance, programming, management, finance, fundraising, facilities, legal and ethical issues, technologies, and audiences.
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 and we strongly recommend that students have two other core courses before enrolling.
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 the management of art and historic collections, although the principles can be applied more 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.
460.611 - History and 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 and across boundaries. 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 changing role and relationship to its public.
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. The course emphasizes a critical understanding of the cross-disciplinary 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.
460.614 - Ethnically Specific Museums
This course examines the history, significance, and potential of ethnically specific museums to enliven the debate about who we are as a nation through our shared experiences and heritage including a look at six diverse museums including; the National Museum of the American Indian, the Japanese American National Museum, el MUSEO del barrio, the Arab American National Museum, The Jewish Museum, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
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 - Legal Issues in Museum Administration
Legal issues and concepts are a fundamental part of the day-to-day 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, as well as 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.
460.617 - Ethics, Technology, and the Museum Professional
This course explores the broad range of ethical issues in the 21st-century museum as related to new technologies including how current business ethic theories can be applied to the museum, how to critically evaluate new technologies before adoption, and how and when to establish ethics policies.
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 gallery interactives; 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 and 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 those stages fit into educational technology development. Students practice developing clear evaluation questions, choosing appropriate methods, and assessing the benefits and trade-offs of different evaluation strategies. 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.
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 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)
460.634 - 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 the three 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.
460.639 - 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 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
Technology has become a core tool for interpretive and information programming in most museums today. From handheld devices to interactive tables, Imax to object theater, interactive media is being used to market, navigate, interpret, simulate, and above all, stimulate a growing number of museum visitors. Through presentations, interviews, hands-on experience, and even a behind-the-scenes tour, this course explores the wide range of technology options available today and in the near future. Beyond possibilities, the course provides the students with the basic skills to select the best solution and to plan, manage, and assess the production of successful in-museum media projects. Students will have the opportunity to produce a small media prototype or develop a proposal for a real or imagined production.
460.642 - Creating Online Learning Environments for Museums
This course will address how museums can develop and present their collection materials to create effective online learning environments. The majority of class work is dedicated to thinking about museum learning in an online context and understanding how low-cost web-based tools (such as blogs, wikis, and content creation applications found in public websites like Google) can be used to create informal and formal learning experiences that mirror or expand onsite museum learning experiences. Existing social networking and media distribution sites (such as Facebook and Flickr) will also be examined for educational potential in a museum context. The class will culminate in a final team project to create an educational website proposal for an actual museum. Note: Students are strongly encouraged to take Introduction to Museum Education (460.604) before enrolling in this course.
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
This course explores the core responsibilities and the expanding roles of museum marketing and communications in an era of increasing competition for people’s time, attention, and resources. Topics range from market research and branding to crisis communications and social media. Creative and strategic thinking and collaboration will be emphasized and models from throughout the world will be presented and discussed.
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 - Management of Technology in Museums
Every manager is constantly making decisions. To be better informed is to make better decisions. A successful manager of technology staff requires an understanding of the principles that support the various technologies in a museum environment, but does not necessarily have to be a technology professional. This course, tailored to individuals with little or no technology background, presents the principles necessary for any non-technical supervisor to have the tools and confidence to successfully oversee staff and production in a technical museum environment.
460.662 - Internet Strategies
The Internet has made it increasingly possible for museums to extend their mission by quickly and cost-effectively publishing information to a broad audience and expanding their reach to those who may never step foot inside their physical walls. At the same time, the Internet provides new tools to help museums attract and cultivate local audiences and enhance on-site visits. In this course, students will survey the many means and methods available to museums on the Internet, including informational web pages, online exhibitions and collections, and newer tools such as blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, and social networking. Consideration will be given to critical issues such as audience research, usability, marketing, legal matters, and strategic planning. Using concepts covered in the course, students will receive hands-on experience planning a web development project.
460.667 - Collections Information Management Systems
Collections Management Systems, the workhorses of museum information technology, long ago evolved into Collections Information Systems, able to provide staff members and the public with access to collections information for myriad purposes. So why is it that despite this vastly increased functionality so many museums use these complex and costly systems to carry out the same restricted set of tasks they performed in their earliest incarnations? Why is it that, even while these systems can serve as powerful tools for educators, curators and museum visitors, they are frequently neglected or updatable only by the registrar's office? As information about the objects in our collections has become a valuable and widely accessible asset, it is used more widely and intensively than ever before. Yet in many institutions, the effort to produce this information is duplicated among multiple departments, drawing on multiple data management technologies and unsynchronized sets of data. In this course, we examine the purposes for which collection information is used, who takes responsibility for it, and how it is managed. Students will learn to evaluate the object information needs of the museum by examining who uses object information, regardless of where and how it is stored, and to what end. Practical exercises in requirements identification, "corralling" legacy data into consistent formats for import to standards-based systems, selecting appropriate standards, and developing criteria for selecting not only the right system but the right kind of system (or systems) will prepare students for the real world of messy, inconsistent, and often "siloed" information.
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 will be covered.
460.670 - Digital Preservation
The digital revolution that began in the late 20th century is now affecting all organizations that conduct business, interact with the public, and maintain records of their activities. Museums face particular challenges as they begin to acquire permanent collections on digital media and create digital products for exhibition and online presentation. Even museums that don’t include original digital media in their permanent collections need to manage internal documentation about their holdings, such as photographic images of the physical objects in their collections, acquisition and donor registers, and conservation and treatment records. Today these records are typically created in digital formats and stored in databases. In addition, many museums own fragile materials such as older audio recordings and newspapers that should be digitized to ensure preservation of the information recorded on them, and museums are also creating digital surrogates of physical originals to increase access to collections and engage audiences through online exhibits and social media activities. How should all of these digital assets be managed? How can preservation priorities be determined and long-term preservation of critical assets be ensured? This course introduces students to the current state of digital preservation (a moving target), to the big issues and challenges to be resolved, and to basic concepts for designing an effective digital preservation plan. Topics covered include: the relevance of digital preservation for museums; the importance of standards and policies; considerations involved in preservation strategies such as migration and emulation; issues relating to formats, repositories, and processes; and emerging preservation solutions and services. Note: Students must have completed two courses in the program to register for this course and we strongly recommend that students have two core courses before enrolling.
460.671 - Foundations of Digital Curation
This course introduces students to the emerging field of digital curation, which is defined as the active and ongoing management of digital assets throughout their lifetime. Students will examine the practical issues, policies and tools involved in managing digital collections in accordance with current standards and best practices. Topics include: appraisal and selection of resources; principles of repository management; management of research data and digital media art; legal considerations; and user perspectives. This course complements the course on Digital Preservation (460.670) by focusing on the beginning of the lifecycle and by identifying specific actions that museums can take to meet users’ needs and maximize use of their valued digital resources. It also explores the relationship between individual institutions that create and acquire digital content and organizations known as aggregators that bring together digital resources from numerous institutions to increase public access. Note: Students must have completed two courses in the program to register for this course.
460.675 - Leadership of Museums
This course is for students who either are or aspire to become the executive director of a museum. This need not be an immediate goal, but students should have a strong sense that this is what they want to do eventually. This course is not simply about museum leadership. Rather it is designed to help students understand their respective leadership strengths and potential, and to identify skills and practices that they can use to become a successful museum director. There are many kinds of museums, and many types of leadership, and no single type fits all situations. We will explore the complexities of leadership in general, the specific challenges of leading a museum, and best practices among effective leaders. Students will reflect on and write about themselves as leaders, analyze and discuss cases of vexing leadership challenges, lead class discussions, interview museum directors about challenges they have faced, and describe their own plans for preparing to take on the job of museum executive director. Prerequisite: Students must have completed ONE of the following courses to register for this course: History & Philosophy of Museums (460.611); Museums, Finance and the Economy (460.684); or Fundamentals of Museum Fundraising (460.657)
460.682 - Museum Procurement and Contracting
Through case studies and sample materials of a variety of museum projects—with emphasis on complex multimedia transactions and new media online activity—students will gain a practical road map for defining a project, building internal support, soliciting proposals from vendors and contractors, and managing people, processes, and money. 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.
460.684 - 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.
460.750 - 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 two courses in the program to register for this course.
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 Sakai, students should expect to participate in 5 7 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 5-7 real-time sessions. A selection committee will review the applications and determine enrollment eligibility before the semesters registration begins. Enrollment limits may vary depending upon the project.
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