Museum Studies Minor

The Museum Studies Minor is intended to provide students with the academic foundation and practical experience necessary for entrance into museum careers.  It explores the manner in which museums are organized and operate and how they care for and interpret their collections, serve their audiences, respond to new technologies, and grapple with complex legal and ethical issues unique to their disciplines, including the cultural implications of the work they do and the extent of its impact from the intimate community to the global market.

Reflecting the broad spectrum of museum types, the Museum Studies Minor incorporates the disciplines of anthropology, art, art history, classics, historic preservation, and history, from which students may select their own concentration preference.  These courses offer a range of learning opportunities led by scholars and museum practitioners from across the UMW campus.

Internships are available at the three UMW museums, which have cooperated in the development of this minor, as well as at museums throughout the region. Museum Studies minors are also required to meet with their advisors as part of the internship selection process to ensure that students choose an appropriate internship experience.  Mentors who work in the museum field are required for all internships.  Your advisor and the chair of the Museum Studies Committee must approve all internships.  For more information, please visit Internship Requirements.

Students should review the Museum Studies Minor Requirements.


1 — In order to enroll in the minor, students must first meet with a member of the Museum Studies Committee who is from their major department (see below) to go over the Check Sheet.  This person will also be their advisor in the minor.  If your major is not listed, then please contact either Drs. Liane Houghtalin or Kelli Slunt, who will go over the Check Sheet with you and be your advisor.  You and your advisor will keep copies of the Check Sheet for record keeping purposes.

2 — Students then must bring the signed Check Sheet along with a filled-in major/minor declaration card (available on the Registrar’s website) to the Chair of the Museum Studies Host Department, which is currently Dr. Jeffrey McClurken in the Department of History and American Studies.  Dr. McClurken will register students for the minor; he also needs to sign your Check Sheet as Host Department Chair.

StudentsWorking Student Working In Art Storage Students Taking Measurements
Home Department: History and American Studies
Jeffrey McClurken, Department Chair  /  Krystyn Moon, Museum Studies Committee Member
Museum Studies Committee

Anthropology: Eric Gable

Art: Rosemary Jesionowsky

Art History:  JeanAnn Dabb

Chemistry: Kelli Slunt

Classics: Liane Houghtalin

Education:  Marie Sheckels

Historic Preservation: Cristina Turdean (Committee Chair)

History and American Studies: Krystyn Moon, Jeffrey McClurken

James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library: Scott Harris

Curriculum (18 Credits)
Requirements: Eighteen (18) credits to include Art History 315 or Historic Preservation 200; Art History 317 or Historic Preservation 463; 9 elective credits from among Anthropology 309, 341, 342; Classics 380; Historic Preservation 208, 303, 320; History 428; special topics courses with approval, including Anthropology 371 or 481, Art History 470, Historic Preservation 471, or History 300 and 471; and, Art History 317 or Historic Preservation 463 if not used to satisfy one of the requirements above. One 3-credit Individual Study course may be substituted for one of the elective courses with the approval of the instructor and chair of the home department. Internship: 499 – Internship (minimum 3 credits). An additional 3 credits of internship may be substituted for one elective course listed above.


Students should contact the Chair of the History and American Studies Department regarding which special topics courses are approved to count towards this minor. In Summary:

  • ARTH 315 – Art Museum Studies (3 credits)
    HISP 200 – Introduction to Museum Studies (3 credits)
  • ARTH 317 – Laboratory in Museum Studies (3 credits)
    HISP 463 – Laboratory in Museum Design and Interpretation (3 credits)
    [if both are taken, one may count as one elective course]
  • Three elective courses (3 credits each)
  • Internship (3 credits) [NOTE: your advisor and the chair of the Museum Studies Committee must approve your internship; all internships are required to have a mentor from the museum field. 3 additional internship credits may be taken and count as one elective course]


Course Offerings

309 – Anthropology of Art (3)
Anthropological approaches to understanding art, focusing but not limited to non-western art forms such as painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, textiles, body art; relationship among meaning, material, and aesthetic; mutual influences of western & non-western art; collection, globalization, and copyright of non-western art.
341 – Practices of Memory (3) Prereq: ANTH 101 or 200 or permission of  instructor. Collective memory, or a shared understanding of the past, plays a vital role in group identity and in the way present events are understood.  But memories are made in the present, and they are always selective.  Indeed, remembering always involves forgetting.  What is remembered and forgotten can be extremely important: the stories we tell about our past, the events we commemorate, the museum exhibits we visit, the films we produce and watch, and the monuments we build all play a significant role in defining our identity by shaping how we view the past.  For this very reason representations of the past are a source of political power and often become the focus of conflict. In this course we will examine the concept of collective memory, consider the ways different groups construct representations of the past in different contexts, and explore conflicts over remembering.

342 – Touring Cultures (3)

Prereq: ANTH 101 or 200 or permission of instructor. In this course we will explore “touring cultures” – cultures of tourists and tourism, as well as the cultures of those toured and the effects of tourism on them.  Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world today, but also represents a specific form of experience and a culture unto itself that some authors have compared to religious pilgrimage.  We will examine interactions between tourists, local residents, and institutions; and the ways people, places, and historic periods are produced and packaged for consumption by tourists.  Other topics will include the connections between tourism and issues of leisure and consumption, globalization, class and ethnic identities, authentic vs. manufactured experiences, and sex tourism.  We will also examine the increasing dependence of many communities on tourist dollars for their livelihood and how this affects those communities.

371 – Special Topics (with approval)
481 – Senior Thesis (with approval)
491, 492 – Individual Study and Research (with approval)
499 – Internship (with approval)
315 – Art Museum Studies (3) Prereq: ARTH 114 and 115, advanced standing in Studio Art or Art History, or permission of instructor.  Examines the art museum and its role, including: developing and managing collections and exhibits; interpretation and museum education for diverse audiences; funding, governance; and ethics and values.
317 – Laboratory in Museum Studies (3) Prereq:  ARTH 315 or HISP 200 or permission of instructor. Through the creation of a hypothetical museum, students gain experience working in a team environment as they apply their knowledge about museum audience, collections, education, exhibition, organization and administration, physical plant, and public relations.
470– Special Studies in Art History (with approval) Prerequisites: ARTH 114, 115, 303, and permission of instructor. For Art History majors and other qualified students. Concentration, in seminar format, is on an individual artist, specific problem, limited time period, or theme.
491, 492 – Individual Study in Art History (with approval)
499 – Internship (with approval)

380 – Archaeology of the Greek and Roman World (3)

Prereq: ARTH 114 or Classics 103 or Classics 105.  Overview of the history of Greek and Roman archaeology; techniques of excavation, cataloging, and conservation; and ethics, global issues, and sensitivities classical archaeologists face.

491, 492 – Individual Study in Classical Civilization (with approval)
499 – Internship (with approval)
200 – Introduction to Museum Studies (3) Survey of the history, philosophy, and management of history museums, including curatorship and public interpretation.
208 – Introduction to Conservation (3) Overview of conservation as a specialized professional discipline, including the field’s history, ethics, and common practices for documentation, stabilization, analysis, and treatment.

303 – Archives and Society (3) Examination of the theory and practice of archival work, including the preservation, organization, and cataloging of manuscript collections.

320 – American Forms and Values (3)Interpretation and analysis of material culture in pre-industrial and modern American societies, with emphasis on research perspectives and methods.
463 – Laboratory in Museum Design and Interpretation (3) Prerequisite: HISP 200 and permission of instructor.  Examination of the principles of museum exhibit design and interpretation, including participation in exhibit preparation.
471 – Special Studies in Historic Preservation

471 LL: Preserving and Interpreting African American Sites and Structures (3)

An introduction to the methods and processes the nation, working through both private and public organizations, has sought, through the preservation and interpretation of places and buildings related to the African-American past,  to recover and to honor, the contributions African-American men and women, slave and free, made to the founding and flowering of our nation. But, because this process is still very young, this course, organized as a seminar, will provide an opportunity for us to contribute to what we know and how we should protect it for future generations. In short, we will be learning about the African American experience, reviewing how it has been interpreted, and contributing to its recovery, analysis, and interpretation. The course is particularly relevant to students who have indicated that they are interested in a career is history museums.

471 SS: Education and Interpretation in Museums and Historic Sites (3)

The job of museum curators and educators is to provide interpretation and context for the objects and information put on display or websites.  These professionals are charged with guiding museums and historic sites in the choosing of objects, crafting the stories the objects can tell, and determining the best means of communicating these stories.  This course will provide an overview of this process and will consider the general connections in the interpretive and educational aspects of all types of museums.  We will examine object-based history, the successes and pitfalls of the public presentation of history, and the relationship between educational theory and practice.

471TT:  Museum Curation and Collections Management in the 21st Century (3)

This class will focus on an understanding of the principles and practices of developing, exhibiting, and caring for collections.  The first part of the class will cover the larger cultural and intellectual perspective necessary for identifying collections needs, developing an effective collection, and exhibiting artifacts from the collection.  The second part will focus on practical issues of managing the collection, from accessioning to de-accessioning, and will include training in the use of Past Perfect software and Nomenclature.  Examples and discussion will be drawn primarily from the fields of history and art, although we will also cover the anthropological aspect of natural history museums.  As a 400 level class, students will be expected to engage with the readings and participate in class discussions.  It will also include opportunities for hands-on and individual experience in both the curatorial and managerial aspects of collections.

471X: Historic Preservation and Public Memory (3)

This seminar will explore the role of public memory of things historical in American life and culture. Historical memory connects our national past to our present and future and that historical memory is shaped by, and depends upon, purposeful tending. This course will, through discussion of assigned readings and a research project, examine how public memory is created, edited, shaped and shared through processes that include commemorations, festivals, museum exhibits, historic sites, and monuments. Because this course is sponsored by the Department of Historic Preservation, it will be grounded in subjects that are pertinent to the disciplines and professional areas that contribute to the larger endeavor we call historic preservation, among them historic house museums and museum exhibits. Our broad goal will be to build an understanding of how civic memory creates shared understandings of our past and history’s relevance to how we perceive ourselves, our culture, and our national purpose. Our exploration of how public memory is created will also give us an opportunity to consider how historical memory reflects regional and national attitudes.

471YY: Grant Writing (3)

This course is on overview of the basic principles and practices of grant writing, including needs assessment, identifying potential funding sources, creating goals, and identifying assessment plans. Students will write real grant proposals for local non-profit organizations to be further submitted to funding agencies. Prerequisites for this class are HISP 200 or ARTH 317.

491: Individual Study in Historic Preservation (with approval)
499: Internship (with approval)

300W – The World of James Monroe (3).

This course will teach students how to use objects and archival materials to do history, in this case the history of the early American republic.  This era, from roughly 1780 to 1830, was the time when Americans developed their own political and cultural identities.  James Monroe had a hand in many of the defining debates of this era, and UMW has a rich collection of his and his family’s personal objects and letters.  Monroe’s materials will serve as a jumping off point for exploring various topics in the history of this pivotal era in American history.

428 – Digital History (3)
Prerequisite: HIST 297 and HIST 298, or with permission of instructor.  This seminar will focus on the process of creating digital history. The course readings, workshops, and discussions expose students to the philosophy and practice of the emerging field of History and New Media. The course will be centered on the creation of four digital history projects, all of which are related to making local resources available online.  This course was formerly HIST 471C3.
471– Special Studies in History
491 – Individual Study (with approval)
499 – Internship (with approval)