Grad Program: Museology/Museum Studies
Museums rank as one of the most popular city attractions to visitors and non-tourists alike, and there’s a good reason for that: they’re darn interesting places. There’s a museum for every interest in the world, ranging from New York’s Museum of Natural History to San Francisco’s MOMA, from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in St. Paul, MN, to Berlin’s Erotik-Museum. For graduates in Museum Studies, this is confirmation that you really can put your obsession with, say, Japanese ukiyo-e art or Liberace to good use (the Liberace Museum, Las Vegas). Regardless of your field of study, you’ll be called on to understand objects and their contexts -– cultural, historical, political, etc. -– and to maintain, repair, display, and explain them. You may be working with Byzantine coins, early American stamps, haute-couture clothing, medieval paintings, ancient Greek sculpture, historical documents, preserved bones or skeletons, and other records of culture past and present.
Different titles you may take as a graduate with a museum studies degree include Archivist, Curator, Conservator, or Director. Your duties might overlap depending on the actual position -– some museum archivists do double-duty as conservators, for example. You will need skills in leadership, business, attention to detail, organization, imagination, and lots of creativity.
With these professions, the more education, the better. Graduate schools offer museology concentrations (paired with an applicable master’s degree), master’s degrees, and Ph.Ds. Employers love specialization, so you might want to consider a second master’s degree in your chosen field. A museum studies degree would go nicely with art history, botany, anthropology, zoology, or history. If you would like to be a museum director, an MBA is highly desirable. An education degree (either state certification or master’s -– again, it depends on what specific employers prefer) would be appropriate if you plan to teach about exhibits.
• What are your interests? How do you want to specialize?
- Will the school you choose offer the degree you want -– a concentration as opposed to a Ph.D, for example?
- If you choose to specialize and work on a museum studies degree simultaneously, will the faculty support your special interests?
- Does the school offer internships and practica, so you can obtain field experience?
- Does the school have positive relationships with nearby institutions pertinent to your degree?