Anthropology | Introduction to Museum Studies
A403 | 0463 | Conrad
Anthropology A403 is an introduction to the principles and practices of
museum work. The course has two interrelated parts, which run
concurrently. The first part--covered by lectures, class discussions, and
readings--is an overview of the museum profession. Emphasis is on the
five "functions" of museum: acquisiton, conservation, reserch, exhibition,
and interpretation. Readings and tours of local museums also provide an
introduction to different kinds of museums.
The second part, interwoven with the first, covers the functions of
museums in a much more "hands-on" way. At the beginning of the second
week I will be dividing the class into small groups, or teams. I'll tell
team that "You're a museum." and give you a "collection." As is often the
case in real life, your team's initial collection will be a motley set of
objects. Through classroom exercises and written assignments, your first
job will be to get your collection under control. You will need to create
basic policies and collections management documents, acquire and
deaccession objects, and assess the condition of your collection.
In mid-semester I'll shuffle you into new teams and assign each team to
one of the existing "museums." Then I'll ask you to develop plans to use
your museum's collection for exhibition and interpretive programming. I
hope these exercises give you both first-hand experience with the five
functions and a sense of just how interrelated they are. I hope they'll
also give you a sense of what it's like to be given responsibility for a
new, small, poorly organized museum, as well as what's it's like to take a
job at an ongoing museum with established ways of doing things. You might
fine yourself in either situation someday.
Although the course is not restricted to students seeking careers in
museums, it does serve as the first step in the training needed by
aspiring museum professionals. Students who have completed A403 will be
prepared to enroll in more advanced courses like the Museum Practicum
(Anthropology A408) or Museum Management (Arts Administration Y525) and to
take advantage of other opportunities for experience in museum work.
The course is offered for undergraduate and graduate credit. There are no
prerequisities; no previous training or experience is expected.
Course Requirements: Final grades are based on total points for the
semester. Please note that a significant portion of your grade will be
based on class participation. It is important that you do the assigned
readings on time and come to class prepared to contribute to discussions
of the issue.
1. Class participation (counts for 15% of course grade)
2. 6 assignments (together count for 65% of course grade). Assignment 1
counts for 5%; Assignments 2-4 count for 10% apiece: and Assignments 5 & 6
count for 15% apiece.
3. Take-home final exam (20% of course grade).
1) Class participation (10% of grade)
2) 5 assignments (together 45%; Assignment 1 counts for 5%; the others for
3) Grant proposal project 35%
4) Take-home final exam 10%