The Program

The Museum Studies Program at Earlham is operated cooperatively by the History, Biology, Geology and Art departments with the Joseph Moore Museum. 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 Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History, Geology Department, and the Earlham College Art Collections.

The Museum Studies minor begins with an introductory course, The Uses and Abuses of Museums, which analyzes the history, philosophy and management of museums. Internships supplement this theoretical introduction by giving students practical experience as curators, interpreters or researchers.

Students are required to choose from four tracks: history, biology, geology or art and must take two courses from within their chosen field in addition to The Uses and Abuses of Museums course.

The Joseph Moore Museum is the regional natural history museum for eastern Indiana. It provides special opportunities for Earlham students to do museum work in the fields of zoology, botany, anthropology, geology, education and applied arts during their undergraduate years. Earlham students operate the museum under the direction and instruction of the director, the coordinator of educational outreach, and the collections manager. Some students work as curators, animal keepers, and exhibit designers and builders. Others design and conduct tours and planetarium shows for public visitors.

The Earlham Art Collection, housed in Lilly Library, truly lives up to the College’s mission, “engaging the world.” The 4,000-piece collection comprises paintings by Indiana and regional artists, Quaker art, prints, ceramics and many works from around the globe, including Africa, China, Japan and Australia. Students working toward a minor in Museum Studies have the opportunity to work with objects from the collection in curatorial practica and as part of the College's Art History courses.

In Richmond, students serve as volunteers at the Wayne County Historical Museum, where they contribute to on going cataloging and research, as well as participating in planning displays for temporary exhibitions and leading public tours. At the Richmond Art Museum, which includes an outstanding collection of regional American art, students work as interns and volunteers, often in independent study projects for which college credit is granted, in research projects, exhibition organization and planning, record-keeping and galley tours. Earlham students also plan and lead educational programs for area school groups.

Off-campus study also provides exceptional opportunities to explore the practical aspects of museum work. For example, students have done gallery work as part of the New York Arts program. While participating in the England program, they 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.

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 Association 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

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
  • (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IP) = Interpretive Practices
  • (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
  • (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. (A-TH, 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. (A-TH, 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 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 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.

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 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 400 CURATORIAL PRACTICUM (2 credits)
Working under the direction of the curator of the Earlham College Art Collection, students will gain hands-on experiences in many facets of museum practice including art handling, research, preparation and display using art objects and materials from the Collection. The course will culminate in a public display of the student’s original design. This course is limited one Museum Studies minor per semester.

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.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
47374-4095
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admissions