2016-17 catalog

Museum Studies

Students may minor in Museum Studies.

Steering Committee

  • Monique Scott, Director of Museum Studies
  • Carrie Robbins, Curator, Academic Liaison for Art & Artifacts
  • Lisa Saltzman, Chair and Professor of History of Art and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Chair in the Humanities

Museum Studies is a pilot program that offers students a rich and dynamic education in both museum theory and practice. Students have the opportunities to learn about the history of museums and their roles in society as well as to engage with critical, theoretical museum scholarship. Through coursework and internships, students will also have the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience in Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections as well as in museums in Philadelphia and beyond. This dynamic and inter-disciplinary program intersects disciplines such as the History of Art, Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Education, Cities, Biology and Geology. The Bryn Mawr Museum Studies program aims to empower students to become significant contributors to various professions throughout museums, galleries and archives.

The Museum Studies program calls upon the College’s extensive collection of art and artifacts, rare books and prints, photographs and manuscripts, which facilitates research and experiential learning for students. Through Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections, students can draw upon the in-house expertise of a strong group of curators and other museum professionals working in the department. Bryn Mawr is in close proximity to the museum-rich Philadelphia region, and students have the opportunity to work with distinguished and diverse museum professionals across the city.

Museum Studies Minor Curriculum

The requirements for the minor are six courses that include:

  • Core courses (2): “Museum Studies: History, Theory, Practice” and one course with an exhibition planning component, including the “Exhibition Seminar”
  • Elective courses (2-3): These can be courses officially taught in museum studies as well as courses in other disciplines that include museum studies content. Students also can take advantage of relevant courses at Haverford and Swarthmore. The Director of Museum Studies in addition to the Professor of the elective must deem the course acceptable as a museum studies course.
  • Experiential courses (2-3): Praxis courses and/or Fieldwork Seminar.

A student declares Museum Studies as a minor by meeting with the Director of Museum Studies and completing a minor work plan. The student can major in any department. Student internships in museums are considered vital “hands-on” learning opportunities for those who seek careers in museum practice. Students will also be encouraged to seek summer museum internships.

Museum Studies Core Courses

  • HART B281 Museum Studies: History, Theory, Practice
  • HART B301 Topics in Exhibition Seminar
  • HART B200-level Fieldwork Seminar


HART B279 Exhibiting Africa: Art, Artifact and New Articulations

At the turn of the 20th century, the Victorian natural history museum played an important role in constructing and disseminating images of Africa to the Western public. The history of museum representations of Africa and Africans reveals that exhibitions—both museum exhibitions and “living” World’s Fair exhibitions— has long been deeply embedded in politics, including the persistent “othering” of African people as savages or primitives. While paying attention to stereotypical exhibition tropes about Africa, we will also consider how art museums are creating new constructions of Africa and how contemporary curators and conceptual artists are creating complex, challenging new ways of understanding African identities.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Museum Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Scott,M.
(Fall 2016)

HART B281 Museum Studies: History, Theory, Practice

Using the museums of Philadelphia as field sites, this course provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical aspects of museum studies and the foundations of the “new museology.” Students will learn: the history of museums as institutions of both education and leisure; how the museum itself became a symbol of prestige, power and sometimes alienation; debates around the ethics and politics of collecting objects of art, culture and nature; and the qualities that make an exhibition effective (or not). By visiting exhibitions and meeting with a range of museum professionals in art, anthropology and science museums, this course offers a critical perspective on the inner workings of the museum.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Museum Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Scott,M.
(Fall 2016)

HART B301 Topics in Exhibition Strategies

This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Counts towards: Museum Studies; Praxis Program
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Robbins,C.

Spring 2017: Exhibiting the Self. Mirroring the Self, Exhibiting the Self is a two-semester cluster, building toward a student-curated exhibition of art and artifacts from the College’s collections. In the fall, participants will study the history and theories of self-portraiture, self-representation, and self-fashioning in cultures around the globe from antiquity to the present. They will research and write catalogue entries on the objects they have selected for exhibition. In the spring, students will explore museums and discuss theories of exhibition-making, learning to identify different curatorial approaches. They will determine a curatorial agenda, produce didactic materials, develop public programming, and install an exhibition.