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Museum Studies

Practical training in a liberal arts context

Overview   |   Feature   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  

 

The Museum Studies Program at Earlham is operated cooperatively by the History, Biology, Geology and Art departments with the Joseph Moore Museum, the regional natural history museum on campus.

Our approach is interdisciplinary and is designed to combine a liberal arts education with the practical aspects of museum work.

Our aim is to provide a foundation in the history, best practices and critical issues of museology, and to introduce students to a variety of museums and museum activities through experiential education.

Students who choose Museum Studies benefit from the staff and collections at the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History, the Geology Department and the Earlham College Art Collections.

Highlights

Museum Studies students often work as interns or volunteers at the Wayne County Historical Museum and Richmond Art Museum.

Off-campus study also provides exceptional opportunities to explore the practical aspects of museum work, such as gallery work as part of the New York Arts program.

While participating in the England program, students have completed curatorial, research and exhibition projects at the National Maritime Museum, Museum of London, London Archeological Archive and Research Center, White Cube Gallery, Chisenhale Art Gallery, Leighton House Museum and Imperial War Museum: HMS Belfast.

Skeletal Remains 2_Feature

Researching Skeletal Remains in the Night

A bone collection sounds like something that belongs in a scary movie, but for the Joseph Moore Museum, it’s an opportunity for study and a chance to become compliant with federal laws.


Our Faculty

Cynthia Fadem
Associate Professor of Geology

Tom Hamm
Professor of History; Curator of the Quaker Collection & Director of Special Collections

Lyn Koehnline
Curator of the Earlham Art Collection

Heather Lerner
Director of the Joseph Moore Museum; Assistant Professor of Biology

Elana Passman
Associate Professor of History

Annie Ronan
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History

Susan Wise
Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Ann-Eliza Lewis
Joseph Moore Museum Collections Manager
Plan of Study

The Minor

Students choosing a minor in Museum Studies must complete these courses:

  • MUSE 224 The Uses and Abuses of Museums: Introduction to Museum Studies
  • Internship
    In accordance with College guidelines, a minimum of 130 working hours is required to earn three credits. The internship can be taken any time but preferably after MUSE 224. Museum professionals emphasize that this experience is crucial for exploring and deciding whether to pursue museum work. Internships should focus on one or more of the five functions of a museum: collections, conservation, research, interpretation and/or education. Ideally, the internship is spent at a museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Proposals for internships are reviewed by the Museum Studies Committee.
  • Two courses in a subject area:
    • Art
      • MUSE/ART 115 Art: Context and Meaning — Part I 
      • MUSE/ART 116 Art: Context and Meaning — Part II
      • MUSE 400 Curatorial Practicum
    • History
      • One elective course of at least three credits
      • One upper-level course designated as "Research Credit"
    • Geology
      • Either GEOS 314 Interpreting Earth History or GEOS 315 Earth Materials
      • Either MUSE/BIOL 123 Introduction to Natural History Museums Collections Management or 
        MUSE/BIOL 223 Advanced Natural History Museum Collections Management
    • Biology
      • BIOL 226 Biological Diversity
        • And one of the following:
          • BIOL 348 Ornithology
          • BIOL 350 Field Botany
          • BIOL 362 Biology of Insects
          • MUSE/BIOL 123 Introduction to Natural History Museums Collections Management
          • MUSE/BIOL 223 Advanced Natural History Museum Collections Management 
  • In addition, two of the following courses:
    • EDUC 120 Foundations of Education
    • EDUC 248 Theory and Practice of Education
    • MUSE/BIOL 123 Introduction to Natural History Museums Collections Management
    • MUSE/BIOL 223 Advanced Natural History Museum Collections Management
    • MUSE/BIOL 213 Introduction to Science Education in Informal Settings
    • MUSE/BIOL 313 Advanced Science Education in Informal Settings
    • MUSE 484 Ford/Knight Research Project
Courses

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IE) = Immersive Experience
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*MUSE 115 ART: CONTEXT AND MEANING — PART ONE (3 credits) 
Presents an introduction of world architecture, painting and sculpture from prehistoric times to the 14th century. Draws from a variety of academic disciplines and is designed to increase appreciation and understanding of art as it relates to its cultural context. Develops critical thinking and analytical skills in response to visual experience. (D-I)

*MUSE 116 ART: CONTEXT AND MEANING — PART TWO (3 credits) 
Presents an introduction of world architecture, painting and sculpture from the Renaissance to the present. Draws from a variety of academic disciplines and is designed to increase appreciation and understanding of art as it relates to its cultural context. Develops critical thinking and analytical skills in response to visual experience. Also listed as ART 116. (D-I)

MUSE 123 INTRODUCTION TO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT (2 credits)
Through weekly labs in the natural history collections of the Joseph Moore Museum, students will gain hands-on experience with collection management techniques including integrated pest management, preparing animal specimens, accessioning specimens into the collection, organizing specimens within the collection, and cataloging specimens using the Specify museum database software. In addition to weekly 3-hour labs, students will also partake in a one-hour weekly Joseph Moore Museum seminar during which issues related to development, care, use and interpretation of museum and systematic collections will be discussed. This course will be of most interest to students with a background in biology, geology or sociology/anthropology. Prerequisite/Co-requisite: BIOL 111, GEOS 201 or 211 or SOAN 216.

*MUSE 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)

*MUSE 213 INTRODUCTION TO SCIENCE EDUCATION IN INFORMAL SETTINGS (2 credits)
Students in this course will become familiar with concepts and processes important to communicating science successfully to audiences in an informal educational setting, such as a museum exhibit, museum tour or website. These audiences include those who may have scant knowledge of science, may not even be sure they are interested in science, and are diverse in backgrounds and interests. During the course of the semester, students will design, execute and synthesize the results of an evaluation of an existing museum exhibit. The course will consist of a 1.5 hour discussion of readings, exercises and projects, and a 1 hour seminar during which issues related to development, care, use and interpretation of museum and systematic collections will be discussed by all students and faculty associated with the Joseph Moore Museum. Prerequisite: BIOL 111, or GEOS 201 or 211, or SOAN 216. (WI)

*MUSE 215 ENGAGING AUDIENCES WITH OUTREACH AND INTERPRETATION (4 credits)
This course will examine the fields of interpretation and engagement, in which mission-driven programs are used to creatively engage communities at a variety of institutions, especially educational non-profits and governmentally operated sites (e.g. parks, museums, libraries). (IE)

MUSE 217 EXHIBIT DESIGN (3 credits)
This course introduces the principles of exhibition design. It will examine the role exhibitions have in communicating knowledge and explore a number of design techniques across disciplines. Students consider the entire process from initial concept through research, design, and fabrication with a considerable focus on narrative aspects of exhibition story telling and the various techniques available to enhance visitor experiences. Techniques for engaging diverse audiences including technology, furniture and lighting, flow, and programming will be considered. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. MUSE 224 or another MUSE course is recommended.

MUSE 223 ADVANCED NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT (2 credits)
Students will hone their collections management and preparation skills in a focal taxonomic group (birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, mollusks, paleontology, anthropology, eggs, nests) during labs. Students will also design and complete a semester-long collection-improvement project in their focal group. In addition to weekly 3-hour labs and time needed to complete projects, students will also partake in a one-hour weekly Joseph Moore Museum seminar during which issues related to development, care, use and interpretation of museum and systematic collections will be discussed. (Students seeking to receive Biology credit must get pre-approval from the Biology department based on the proposed project.) Prerequisite: MUSE 123.

MUSE 224 THE USES AND ABUSES OF MUSEUMS (3 credits)
An inquiry into the development, philosophy and management of museums, especially as they relate to education, interpretation, research and conservation. Through lectures, discussions and field trips, students investigate science, natural history, art and history museums. (AY)

MUSE 231 MUSEUM FABRICATION (0-3 credits)
Students in this applied team design, create and maintain objects used for exhibits, research projects, and education that support the Joseph Moore Museum. Students develop skills in project design, teamwork, 3-D fabrication, design, graphics, structures, woodworking, metalwork, scientific illustration and more. The team meets weekly, and members undergo training and certification on large equipment and handtools.

MUSE 270 THAT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM (3 credits)
In an iconic scene in Indiana Jones: Last Crusade, Indiana Jones mutters the famous phrase, “That belongs in a museum!” when a relic is forcibly taken from him. Though the scene is Hollywood fiction, it does serve to highlight real tensions surrounding antiquities. Simultaneously viewed as objects of material, cultural, and aesthetic value, ancient objects occupy a nebulous space in the modern world. Using both archaeological and museological perspectives, this course is designed to introduce students to the types of artifacts that survive from antiquity and to explore some of the special challenges associated with antiquities collections. Also listed as ANCS 270.

MUSE 313 ADVANCED SCIENCE EDUCATION IN INFORMAL SETTINGS (2 credits)
Students will improve and demonstrate their skills in communicating science in informal settings. Students will spend most of the semester researching a particular topic of interest within their chosen discipline using primary scientific literature and distilling it into an effective presentation for a selected audience. Presentations may take the form of artifact or specimen labels, museum blog posts, segments of guided museum tours, etc., using the methods of presentation described in assigned readings and MUSE 213. Students will also design, conduct and analyze evaluations of their final projects. Students will learn to use the digital planetarium display and develop planetarium shows for public viewers. In addition to weekly 3-hour labs and time needed to complete projects, students will also partake in a one-hour weekly Joseph Moore Museum seminar during which issues related to development, care, use and interpretation of museum and systematic collections will be discussed. This course is designed to address the Smithsonian Institution’s “Public Programming” competency recommended for museum professional development. Prerequisite: MUSE 213.

*MUSE 402 CURATORIAL PRACTICUM (3 credits)
The student will gain experience in many facets of museum practice including art handling, documentation, research, writing and presentation Working one-on-one with the Curator of the Earlham Art Collection, each student will select a group of works from the Collection to study. The course will culminate in an exhibit in Ronald Gallery or the Landrum Bolling Center. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Also listed as ART 402. (RCH)

MUSE 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.

MUSE 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive report prepared in the style of a thesis or research paper.