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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.