Museum Studies

Earlham College’s museum studies program leverages the extensive collections at the college to train students for the museums of the future. An interdisciplinary faculty from the Departments of African and African American Studies, Ancient and Classical Studies, Archaeology, Art, Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, and History guide students to experience the best of a liberal arts education.

Students explore the history, best practices and critical issues of modern museology, and develop a deep disciplinary knowledge within a subject area of their choice.

Practical training in a liberal arts context

In choosing to pursue museum studies, you’ll benefit from the expert staff and abundant collections at the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History, the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, the Earlham College Art Collections and the Quaker/College Archives.

Off-campus study

Explore the practical aspects of museum work through off-campus study. Students have completed collections work at the Whanganui Regional Museum on the New Zealand program and in London 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.

View our off-campus programs

Hands-on experience

All students in the museum studies program complete an internship and are encouraged to seek out opportunities that match their interests. Recent students have interned at the American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

Learn more about internships at Earlham

Our faculty

Drawn from all four divisions of the college, the faculty in museum studies guides students to a deep knowledge of the discipline of their choice and provides training in interpretation, exhibit design and collections care.

Program information

The Joseph Moore Natural History Museum, housed on Earlham’s campus, serves as a classroom for students who want to gain hands-on knowledge and experience about working in museums. Current grants from IMLS fund students to work on digitization projects.

As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which students cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects every student to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.

As part of their general education, students complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, students meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.

Learn more about general education at Earlham.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in museum studies, you must complete the following courses.

  • MUSE224 Uses and Abuses
  • MUSE2XX* Collections Care and Management (AY)
  • MUSE/ENSU315 Engaging Audiences (AY)
  • MUSE317 Exhibition Design (AY)
  • MUSE481 Internship  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. A minimum of 130 working hours is required. Internships may be taken for 0-4 credits and may be paid or unpaid. The internship can be taken any time but preferably after MUSE 224. Proposals for internships are reviewed by the Museum Studies Committee. Students complete a short reflection upon completion of the internship.
  • MUSE488* Senior Capstone
  • 1 Object-based research class within disciplinary track. This class satisfies the research requirement within the major and is determined by the students chosen discipline.
    • African and African American Studies: MUSE/HIST 239 Material Culture Studies (R) OR MUSE/ART402 Curatorial Practicum (R)
    • Ancient and Classical Studies: MUSE270 That Belongs in a Museum (R)
    • Archaeology: MUSE/HIST239 Material Culture Studies (R)(AY) OR MUSE/ART270 That belongs in a Museum (R)
    • Art History: ART/MUSE 402 Curatorial Practicum (R)
    • Biology: BIOL3xx/MUSE3xx: Great Discoveries in Natural History Collections (pre-req BIOL 111) (R)
    • Earth and Environmental Science: GEOL315 Earth Materials (R) (pre-req GEOL 201 or 211)
    • History: MUSE/HIST239 Material Culture Studies (R) (AY)

 

An additional 12 credits in your chosen discipline (No double-dipping with object-based class)

 

African and African American Studies:

  • AAAS 114 Introduction to African American Studies (D-D)

AND

  • 2 of the following: AAAS 230 History of African American Religious Experiences (D-D), AAAS 368 African American History to Emancipation (D-D), AAAS 369 African American History Since Emancipation (D-D), AAAS 231 African History to 1880 (WI, D-I)(AY), AAAS 232 African History Since 1880 (WI, D-I)(AY), AAAS 352 Politics of Africa (D-I) (AY)

 

Ancient and Classical Studies:

  • 3 of the following: ANCS 241 Ancient Mediterranean History (WI, D-I), ANCS/MUSE 270 That Belongs in a Museum, ANCS 315 Pompeii: Life &Death (D-I, R), ANCS 350 (Words and Works in Rome (WI), ANCS 351 Words and Works in Ancient Rome (WI)

 

Archaeology:

  • GEOL/SOAN 114 Archaeology, SOAN 115 Introduction to Anthropology: Culture and Diversity, GEOL 201 Earth & the Environment, ANCS/MUSE 270 That Belongs in a Museum, MUSE/HIST 239 Material Culture Studies

 

Art History:

  • ART 115 or ART 116 Art Context and Meaning Part 1 or 2 (D-I)

AND

  • Choose one: ART 210 History of Craft (D-I)(AY), ART211 20th Century Art (AY), ART 213 Nineteenth Century Art (D-I)

AND

  • 1, 300 level Art history Class

 

Biology:

  • BIOL 111 Ecological Biology
  • BIOL 226 Biological Diversity
  • Choose 1 of: BIOL 348 Ornithology, BIOL 350 Field Botany, BIOL 362 Biology of Insects, BIOL 346 Vertebrate Zoology

 

Earth and Environmental Science

  • GEOL 201 Earth and the Environment (AQR, DI), GEOL 314 Interpreting Earth History (AQR, R), GEOL 316 Geochemistry and Environmental Change (WI)

 

History

  • 2 elective courses of at least 3 credits and one upper level “research credit” course

 

Electives (Choose 2; no double dipping):  Any additional classes in your disciplinary track, an additional objects-based class, or:

  • MUSE 484: Faculty/Student Collaborative Research
  • MUSE 485: Independent Study
  • MUSE 486: Student Research
  • EDUC 120: Foundations of Education
  • EDUC 248: Theory and Practice of Education
  • MGMT 312: Leadership and Change (R)
  • MGMT 325: Nonprofits and Civil Society (D-I)
  • MGMT 354 Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • MGMT 361 Social Media and Marketing (R)
  • MGMT 342 Leadership and Dealing with Difference (D-D)

 

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

Yes! To complete a minor in museum studies, you will need to complete the following:

  • MUSE 224 The Uses and Abuses of Museums
  • Applied Experience
    • 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.

OR

  • Applied group membership at the Joseph Moore Museum

This experience is a minimum of 130 working hours, equivalent to three credits, and focuses on collections, outreach, marketing, or exhibit design and construction (i.e. Fab Lab). The animal care applied team is not eligible to satisfy this requirement. Collections and Outreach are dependent upon faculty staffing and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Students must apply to the applied teams and are not guaranteed acceptance. Completing this requirement over two semesters of 4.5 hours/week is typical and highly recommended, rather than one semester of 9 hours/week which can’t be guaranteed.

  • MUSE 210 Applied Museum Marketing and Communication
  • MUSE 231 Museum Fabrication

Two of the following courses:

  • MUSE 215 Engaging Audiences with Outreach and Interpretation
  • MUSE/HIST 239 Care and Use of Material Culture
  • MUSE/BIOL 241 Care and Use of Collections
  • MUSE/ANCS 282 That Belongs in a Museum
  • MUSE 317 Museum Exhibit Design
  • MUSE 399 May Term
  • MUSE 484 Ford/Knight Research Project
  • MUSE 485 Independent Study
  • MUSE 486 Student Research
  • EDUC 120 Foundations of Education
  • EDUC 212 Leadership and Group Facilitation
  • EDUC 248 Theory and Practice of Education
  • MGMT 312 Leadership and Change
  • MGMT 325 Nonprofits and Civil Society
  • MGMT 354 Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • MGMT 361 Social Media and Marketing

 

Two (OR three) of the following courses in one of the focal subject areas as described below: Ancient and Classical Studies, Art, Biology, History, or Geology. It is recommended that the subject area corresponds to the student’s major, but this is not required. Courses taken to satisfy the core portion of the minor above may not also be used to satisfy the disciplinary requirements below (e.g. Care and Use of Collections can only be used to satisfy one requirement for the minor).

Ancient and Classical Studies

  • ANCS 241 Ancient Mediterranean History
  • ANCS/MUSE 282 That Belongs in a Museum
  • ANCS 315 Pompeii: Life & Death
  • ANCS 350 Words and Works of Ancient Rome
  • ANCS 351 Words and Works of Ancient Greece

Art

  • MUSE/ART 115 Art: Context and Meaning — Part I
  • MUSE/ART 116 Art: Context and Meaning — Part II
  • MUSE 402 Curatorial Practicum

Biology

  • BIOL 226 Biological Diversity (required)
  • BIOL 241 Care and Uses of Collections
  • BIOL 346 Vertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 348 Ornithology
  • BIOL 350 Field Botany
  • BIOL 362 Biology of Insects

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

History

  • One elective course of at least three credits
  • One upper-level course designated as “Research Credit”

Geology

  • GEOL 314 Interpreting Earth History
  • GEOL 315 Earth Materials

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

In addition to internships and volunteer opportunities locally at the Joseph Moore Museum, the Wayne County Historical Museum, the Richmond Art Museum and the Levi and Catharine State Historic Site, Earlham students have interned around the world at places like the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, the Smithsonian and more.

Learn more about available programs via our Center for Global and Career Education.

Yes! Museum studies students are encouraged to study off-campus if they are able. Earlham offers several off-campus study programs where you can get hands-on experience working in museums, including the semester in London.

Learn more about available programs via our Center for Global and Career Education.

Museum studies students are interested in working in museums, galleries or other cultural institutions after graduation. The museum studies major offers practical, hands-on experience for you to learn the curatorial and public education skills needed to effectively work in these settings.

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