Anthropology | INTRODUCTION TO MUSEUM STUDIES
A403 | 9671 | 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: acquisition, conservation, research,
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 each 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. 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.
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
prerequisites; 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%)