All students earn a Master of Arts (MA) in Museum Studies. The MA requires ten courses, two are required, three core courses and five electives, to be completed within five years of beginning the program.

The core curriculum offers grounding in the theory and practice of museums in a changing technological, social, and political environment emphasizing the role of technology throughout the museum. Elective courses address all aspects of the museum, from collections and exhibitions to marketing and development. Students work with an academic advisor to design a course of study that best suits their needs and interests. An optional internship or project at a student’s local museum, approved by the Internship Coordinator, may be substituted for one elective course.

Required Courses

Choose either Exploring Museum Professions or Museums in the Digital Age - and - the Two-Week Onsite Seminar

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.

The ever-expanding use of digital technologies in museum practice is more relevant today than ever before. Technology has changed the traditional role and scope of the museum through global communication, interaction with diverse audiences, and promotion of cultural understanding. The use of technology in the museum field is introducing new forms of audience engagement and access, challenging exhibition concepts, and affecting the museum's core operations. This course explores the impact of technology on the museum, including an examination of the current uses and effects of digitization, social media and mobile technologies by these institutions, while considering future possibilities in the digital realm. Students in this course engage in a Twitter project for professional research and networking, as well as apply the basic concepts of strategic planning to a museum technology project.

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

Select at least three of the core courses.

This course introduces students to the critical and fundamental educational function of museums, the core responsibilities of museum educators, and the impact of museum education practices in a pluralistic society. We review theories of how people learn, current teaching practices in museums, and the unique roles that objects play in an informal learning environment. We analyze the wide range of audiences for education programs, approaches to developing museum programs and interpretive projects, and strategies for measuring success. We learn how museum educators advocate for and activate diverse perspectives internally and externally in order to make museums more inclusive, empathetic, and user-centered.

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.

Museums are stewards of cultural patrimony, disseminators of knowledge, and agents of civic and social awareness. They are community icons, places of respite, economic drivers, and centers of informal education and public engagement. In serving these functions, museums must deal within a hyper-competitive entertainment and commercial environment. While they serve the greater good, they must function as businesses. As nonprofits, they cultivate financial and community support from individuals and donors. They also rely on fees, grants, sponsorships, retail operations and other strategies to survive. This course is a journey through the business side of the museum world. Students will explore the range, fundamentals, and subtleties of the museum world including mission, governance, programming, management, finance, fundraising, public relations, legal and ethical issues, technologies, risk management, audience engagement, leadership, and strategic planning, all in the context of current news stories and events.

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.

This course explores audience research and evaluation theory, methodologies, and practical implementation in museums and similar environments. The class explores the three main stages of research and evaluation - front end, formative and summative - and what can be achieved at each stage, with a focus on exhibition and program evaluation. Each semester a museum client presents a real project; in small groups students develop clear research questions, an evaluation plan, an interview tool and an observation tool, all in conjunction with the client. A final presentation ensures the client’s evaluation needs are met and workable tools have been created. Students also spend time developing individual projects for their own museums, or museums in their communities. Emphasis is given on evaluating the holistic visitor experience, examining what is working and what is not - educationally, physically, and socially. This course is useful to all museum professionals, in any role within a museum, whether you plan to conduct, oversee, or in any way participate in audience research and evaluation.

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.


Select five. Students may take up to two related courses in other Johns Hopkins University departments subject to the approval of the Program Director.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

For over two decades, museums have been grappling with how to increase participation and engagement with community members who are historically under-engaged. By and large, the 2012 Center for the Future of Museum’s Report informs us that of the core group of museum visitors, less than 10% represent visitors of color. This course will examine the historical arch of diversity and inclusion initiatives in the field including recent activism as engineered by museum activists and change-makers of the Inclusive Museum Movement. We will explore and define discourses of participation within museum scholarship. This course will use interdisciplinary pedagogies such as Critical Race Theory and Social Inclusion Theory as informative frameworks to help us interrogate our current museum praxis, the museum space, and how invisible social structures such as institutional racism, privilege, and oppression impact our understanding of terms such as diversity, inclusion, equity, and access. In this course, we will explore why race matters in museums and seek to create and identify new discourses on diversity and inclusion for a more vibrant, 21st century museum social ecosystem.

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.

Building on the successful introductory evaluation course, this more advanced course will allow students who have completed the initial course to develop and complete a full evaluation project. It will emphasize hands-on application, including tool development, data collection, data management, and data analysis. Students will begin with a project in their community, they will develop evaluation questions and an overall evaluation plan, collect a rigorous sample size, and then analyze and present their findings in both written and oral final presentations. Prerequisite: Evaluation Theory & Techniques for Museums (460.621)

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.

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)

Twenty-first-century public history has expanded beyond the simple definition of "history outside the classroom” to include almost any effort to develop and communicate history-related content, from museums and historic houses to movies and social media, to inform, and even influence, audiences. This course provides a comprehensive overview of public history as a modern, engaging field of practice, with a skill-building focus on digital storytelling as the key tool for reaching existing audiences and building new ones. It is now a heavily democratic field in the sense that it can be practiced anywhere, by anyone — and therein lies additional challenges for museum and public history professionals. Consequently, we will cover the fundamental elements of practicing public history — including fundraising, governance, interpretation, and countering false narratives — while also introducing students to the process of digital storytelling, which merges the strength of visual and audio media with the power of narrative storytelling to produce informative and persuasive history-related content. By the end of the course, students will have a working knowledge of the ways that modern public history practitioners understand their roles and leave with a toolkit of new media skills to help them shape their own careers.

Conservation-Restoration has existed for hundreds of years, and conservators have been active in museums and the heritage industry since their inception. This course will explore the history of conservation-restoration, how it has changed over time, where it is today and where it might be going tomorrow. Students will become fluent in conservation-restoration research methods and publishing sources, able to identify good sources for information, and to understand the ethical issues in the field. The Getty Art and Archaeological Technical Abstracts (AATA) Online have partnered with this course to provide material for students to review, abstract, and publish on their online bibliographical database. The final project will be the culmination of a semester’s worth of research and writing about a conservation-restoration or collections topic and presented as an encyclopedic article in On completion of this course students will be able to call themselves a Wikipedian and a Getty AATA abstractor and they will have a working knowledge of the field of conservation-restoration as it applies to museums and the heritage industry. Prerequisite: Collection Management (460.666).

“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.

What does it mean to curate? The idea and meaning of curation has evolved and developed in recent years. Traditional notions of curatorial authority have come under question as the concept of curating has expanded. In this course, students will study principles and practices relating to core curatorial functions, learn about the traditional role of curators in different museums, and consider how and why those roles are changing. Students will consider ethical and other challenges facing museums and will investigate the role that technology is playing in changing curatorial functions. Students will visit museums to critique specific curatorial practices, write and present an acquisition proposal, and work collaboratively in a group to create and present an exhibition proposal.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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)

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.

Major changes in technology have dramatically shifted how people consume information. It is critical for museum professionals to understand this and to adapt their marketing and communications strategies in order to compete for attention in an increasingly busy and competitive world. Looking through the lens of audience development, the course explores how museum marketing and communications professionals are empowered to target and engage audiences and the strategies they employ to do this work. From understanding the basics of the marketing mix and the science of public relations to surveying advances in digital advertising and exploring case studies highlighting innovative practices within and beyond the field, this course is a comprehensive primer for museum marketing and communications today.

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.

Shifts in audience attention, access, and expectations are forcing museums of all types to grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation. Developing effective digital engagement projects requires museum professionals to be well-versed in the techniques of user-centered design, which enable them to appropriately match technology solutions to the needs and realities of museum audiences. The course will provide an overview of the range of digital engagement opportunities in museums (i.e, web, mobile, social, interactives), with a focus on interpretive uses for education, marketing, fundraising, and scholarship. Students will gain hands-on experience in applying user-centered design techniques to a digital engagement project of their choice. The core project for the course includes conducting user interviews, identifying user problems and motivations, ideating potential solutions based on user needs, building and testing a prototype, crafting a marketing and evaluation plan, and pitching the project idea for approval or funding.

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.

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.

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.

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. Note: Students are strongly encouraged to take Collection Management (460.666) before enrolling in this course.

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 are advised to take 460.666 Collection Management before enrolling in this course; consult with the Digital Curation Program Coordinator for approval of exceptions.

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 are advised to take 460.666 Collection Management before enrolling in this course; consult with the Digital Curation Program Coordinator for approval of exceptions.

This course addresses technical and practical issues involved in the long-term management and preservation of digital assets, with an emphasis on the unique problems facing museums and archives tasked with preserving digital material of historical or aesthetic value. Subjects will include the fundamental models of digital curation and preservation, practical planning and design of digital curation strategy and associated workflows, a survey of the technologies commonly involved at the institutional level (software, metadata schemas), and a review of best practices for format identification, migration, and potential emulation of digital assets. Practical exercises are included that involve the use of Open Source, and free applications, such as the BitCurator digital forensics suite, and applications for packaging digital objects for submission to repositories. These topics will be presented within the context of analyzing the digital asset management practices (in the broadest sense) of individual institutions investigated by students. Prerequisite: Students must have completed Digital Preservation (460.670) and/or Foundations of Digital Curation (460.671) —preferably both—before enrolling in this course.

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 and Archives (460.672). Note: Students should discuss internship plans with the Digital Curation Program Coordinator at least one semester before enrolling in this course.

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.

Every museum career offers opportunities for leadership. Whether you head an internal project, lead a team, department or an entire institution, you draw from the same attributes and skill sets as leaders everywhere. Understanding that skill set and developing individual leadership competence leads to a career hallmarked by intentionality.

This course introduces students to the nature and practice of leadership through the vocabulary of competencies. It focuses on personal leadership development, beginning with an assessment of a student’s leadership strengths and weaknesses while building awareness of challenges, best practices, and practical workplace applications. Through reading, discussion, interviewing current museum leaders, and reflective writing, students deepen their understanding of their personal leadership capacities, grasp the importance of self-awareness to leadership growth, and understand the range of competencies leaders must embrace to be successful in 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)

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

Every object has a story and a history, and the study of objects and their contexts form the basis for provenance research. This course will expose students to the historical context of collecting around the world and will explore the various roles that provenance research plays in museums today, including within the realms of collections management, acquisitions, visitor engagement, publications, legal issues, and more. We will consider not only what provenance research is, but how it can be used as a valuable method for understanding the biography of an object, including its provenience, acquisition, and movement through time and space through a series of events and transactions. By focusing on specific areas of various fields of study, we will examine the overlapping but often distinct ways that provenance research can be utilized and what it can reveal. Through hands-on activities and representative case studies, students will undertake their own provenance research in order to understand the process and methodologies of a discipline that often encompasses many facets of inquiry and avenues of investigation.

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.

This course explores how museums of all types (art, archaeology, design, history, natural history, science, etc.) around the world are seeking ways to incorporate innovation in their missions, practices, and displays. The current coronavirus pandemic has made innovative solutions all the more urgent. Topics to be addressed include theory and practice of museum innovation; tension between innovation and tradition; historical roots of museum innovation; nurturing an innovative culture; and the power of play. Guest presenters include experts on exhibit design and museum architecture from both conceptual and practical viewpoints. The course also looks to the future. It explores how “virtual museums” and cutting-edge digital technologies, including 3-D imaging and replication, will transform the presentation of as well as public access to artifact collections. Students will be urged to model innovation in discussion forums and in weekly planning exercises, culminating in a term project in which they develop their own original concept for an innovative museum.

Take a journey inspired by the peoples, ecosystems, and cultures of the Americas and explore how museums are responding to our shared hemispheric challenges of socioeconomic disparity, environmental degradation, and cultural heritage preservation, as well as achieving relevance in light of the recent pandemic and civil protest. Through video interviews and live guest sessions with museum leaders and experts throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean; mapping our journey and sharing what we learn; and multimedia assignments; we will focus on innovation, community and civic engagement, and sustainable practices.

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.

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.

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

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