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 American studies, 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) and discuss the requirements in the minor.  This faculty will serve as their minor advisor.  If a student’s major is not listed, they must contact either Drs. Liane Houghtalin or Kelli Slunt, who will go over the requirements with them and serve as a faculty advisor in the minor.

2 — Students will then declare the minor by electronically filling in the Minor Declaration Form. 


Anthropology: Eric Gable

Chemistry: Kelli Slunt

Historic Preservation: Cristina Turdean (Committee Chair)

History and American Studies: Erin Devlin

James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library: Scott Harris

CURRICULUM (18 Credits)

Required courses (6 credits): Art History 315 or Historic Preservation 200 or American Studies 306 AND Art History 317 or Historic Preservation 463 or History 425;

Elective courses (9 credits) from among Anthropology 309, 341, 342; Art History 460 and IDIS 350S; Classics 380; Historic Preservation 208, 303, 313, 317, 320, 323; History 330, 428; special topics courses with approval, including American Studies 350, Anthropology 371 or 481, Art History 470, Classics 351/352, Historic Preservation 471, or History 300 and 471; and, Art History 317 or Historic Preservation 463 or History 425 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 the chair of the Museum Studies Committee.

Students should contact the Chair of Museum Studies Committee or their advisor in the minor regarding which special topics courses are approved to count towards this minor.

Internship (499) – 3 credits; an additional 3 credits of internship may be substituted for one elective course listed above.

In summary:

  • ARTH 315 – Art Museum Studies (3 credits)
    HISP 200 – Introduction to Museum Studies (3 credits)
    AMST 306 – Museums in the United States (3 credits)
  • ARTH 317 – Laboratory in Museum Studies (3 credits)
    HISP 463 – Laboratory in Museum Design and Interpretation (3 credits)
    HIST425 – Public History Seminar (3 credits)
    [if more than one are taken, they may count as elective courses]
  • 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 member of the Museum Studies Committee as sponsor]



350 – Special Topics (with approval)

491 – Individual Study (with approval)

499 – Internship (with approval)


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) 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.

460 – Women and Western Art (3) Prereq:  ARTH 114, 115, 303, and permission of instructor. The class examines the roles women have played in the visual arts in Western traditions as well as the literature by an about these women. Focus is on the work of women artists, the commissions of women patrons, the responses of audiences to these works, meanings placed on the feminine form, and the work of male artists which has as its subject the female form. The class also looks at contemporary issues to examine the role of feminist art as an art which critiques and creates society.

 470 – Special Studies in Art History (with approval) Prereq: 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.

470S – Gianlorenzo Bernini and the Italian Baroque (3) This course satisfies the 400-level research seminar requirement in Art History as well as a Writing Intensive requirement. Part of the work for this course includes creating an online exhibition on the art of Bernini.

Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was acclaimed by his contemporaries as a rare genius.  He was active as a sculptor before the age of nine, and his earliest works demonstrate a dazzling understanding of technique and a remarkable sense of style.  Like many of his predecessors, he was the son of an artist, and he studied in the workshop of his father.  This early socialization within the business of sculpture may explain Gianlorenzo’s artistic direction, but nothing really explains the child’s amazing comprehension of his craft and his meteoric rise. The aristocracy of church and state called upon Bernini to give physical form to their visions of grandeur, both spiritual and secular.  In architecture, sculpture, painting, and theater, Bernini expressed for his patrons their own sense of wonder, accomplishment, and sheer power.  There was no other artist in the seventeenth century who could so completely fulfill the needs of the age of Absolutism.

ARTH 470Z:  Venice (3) 

This course meets the following requirements:  Writing Intensive, Global Inquiry, and satisfies an elective requirement in Museum Studies. Part of the work for this course includes creating an online exhibit on the city of Venice.

In this course we will examine Venetian art and culture from the foundation of the city in the 5th and 6th centuries through today. The lagoon and islands of the city will hold our attention for the first several meetings as we explore geography, politics, business, and urban issues that are particular to Venice. We will then turn to the artists whose works define the city for art historians, including the following from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries: the Bellini family, Giorgione, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, and the Tiepolo family. We will also consider twentieth-century and contemporary artists, both Italian and non-Italian, who were so influenced by this city, including J.M.W. Turner, J. A. McN. Whistler, J. S. Sargent, F. L. Wright, and Carlo Scarpa.

491, 492 – Individual Study in Art History (with approval)

499 – Internship (with approval)

IDIS 350S – Museums in London (1) This is a one-credit study abroad program offered during spring break in London, England.


 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.

313 – Education and Interpretation in Museums and Historic Sites (3) Prereq: HISP200 or ARTH315. 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.

317:  Museum Collections Management (3) This class focuses on 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 deaccessioning, 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.

320 – Material Culture (3) Interpretation and analysis of material culture in pre-industrial and modern American societies, with emphasis on research perspectives and methods.

323 – Heritage Tourism (3) Heritage Tourism defines the modern market-centered approach to Historic Preservation. This seminar explores the larger issues that surround the evolving concepts of tourism—from the 19th century view embodied in Charles M. Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta to heritage corridors and theme parks. Implicit in “heritage tourism” is the experience of interactions with people different than ourselves, not for their heroic qualities, but for their knowledge, values and aesthetic shared among the people of a community or culture and embodied in their artifacts. The personal automobile and the democratization of leisure time transformed the tourist experience from an idle of the wealthy, to a passion of the working classes. As a multi-disciplinary study, Historic Preservation has staked its reputation with the public on the authenticity of its results. This seminar seeks to explore the formulas for presenting and representing heritage in an authentic experience to the public as crucial to our role as mediators between the objects of the past and the recreation industry that seeks to employ heritage as a tourism engine.

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

 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)


330  – Intro to Public History (3)

428 – Digital History (3) Prereq: 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)