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Teaching Museum Studies

On the Common-Wealth of Libraries, Archives and Museums:
Reinventing the Graduate Degree Program in Museology

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Teaching Museum Studies

  1. 1. On the Common-Wealth of Libraries, Archives and Museums: Reinventing the Graduate Degree Program in Museology Brandon Fitzgerald April 2009
  2. 2. 1 On the Common-Wealth of Libraries, Archives and Museums: Reinventing the Graduate Degree Program in Museology Table of Contents I. Introduction 1 II. Identifying the Common-Wealth: Interrelatedness of LAMs 2 III. A Survey of Existing Degree Programs in Museology and their Various Implementations 3 IV. A Vision for Museums and Museology in University Settings 4 V. A Theoretical Framework for Museum Pedagogy 6 VI. Curriculum 8 a. Foundations of Museology 9 b. Museum Research and Evaluation 11 c. Exhibition Development 11 d. Collection Development 12 e. Digital Curation 14 f. Museum Education 14 g. Museum Management 14 h. Information Technologies in Museums 15 i. Museum Internship 15 j. Independent Study 16 VII. The Future of Museums 16 Introduction Recent and ongoing research—including the work of the Museum Learning Collaborative (MLC)1—examines the specific and theoretical junctions of museums and education, ultimately defining the role of the museum as an informal education center in which publics learn about the world around them through objects.2 As Kenneth Hudson theorized, “the most fundamental change that has affected museums during the [past] half the now almost universal conviction that they exist in order to serve the public.”3 This recent trend to highlight the services museums offer has buried the constitutional philosophy of the field: the work performed in museums is undertaken for the collections as much as it is for the public. While some researchers attempt to identify the benefits of studying academic disciplines (e.g. archaeology, art history, anatomy, or ethnology) through museum collections, this study inverts that relationship and asks how academic study might benefit museums. Innovative graduate programs are now making better use of museum resources, but the focus is on how material culture can provide for us a more rooted, more comprehensive understanding of a subject, not how we can 1 Museum Learning Collaborative, “Philosophy and Purpose,” MLC, 2 Gaea Leinhardt, Leona Schauble and L. Schauble, “A Framework for Organizing a Cumulative Research Agenda in Informal Learning Contexts,” Journal of Museum Education 22, no. 2-3 (1998). 3 Kenneth Hudson, “The Museum Refuses to Stand Still,” Museum International 197 (Jan.-Mar. 1998), 43.
  3. 3. 2 provide for material culture. Traditionally, we have used museum spaces and the outcomes of museum practice to develop our own academic and personal interests; now is the time to give back and contribute the principles of our disciplines and the tools of our trades towards the improvement of museology. In that spirit, this paper claims that libraries and archives share stakeholder status in the continuing relevance of museums. Together, libraries, archives and museums (LAMs)4 are stewards of information and collective knowledge. The purpose of this research is to support the much-needed treatment of museology (or the systematic study of museum functions, organization, and management) as a legitimate academic discipline. Specifically, I will examine the intersections of principles and practices in librarianship, archival science and museology, and the ways in which universities can facilitate LAM collaboration with sustained, institutional support. A survey of existing museology graduate degree programs will assess the potential benefits and shortcomings of various implementations, leading to a theoretical foundation for re-imagining the discipline. Finally, this research will culminate in the design of a curriculum for museology offered within an integrated LAM program model. Identifying the Common-Wealth: Interrelatedness of LAMs Largely ignored in research is how libraries, archives and museums have recently undergone changes resulting in overlapping principles. Formalizing their interdependence is an idea that warrants further discussion. Traditionally, museums differed most from libraries and archives in that their holdings were essentially object- oriented as opposed to textual, but the incorporation of digital media has blurred this distinction in terms of what constitutes a collection and how it is presented. Like libraries and archives, museums have been impacted by “recent shifts in understanding about the nature of learning, the creation of knowledge, and the methods of instructional delivery.”5 The ability to create, capture and modify information in digital formats, and communicate, discover, retrieve, and interact with information in digital environments has had a profound impact. Museum visitors expect to actively engage in meaning- making, re-presentation, and commentary, and even to experience the museum from anywhere in the world. The public is no longer content to passively receive information in manufactured displays where observation is guided or supervised and holdings are presented alongside authoritative interpretation. The same could be said of libraries and archives. Identifying shared values, practices, and challenges in libraries, archives and museums illustrates why collaboration is critical to sustaining the relevance of these institutions in a changing information landscape. Museums and libraries both participate in mounting exhibits, providing equitable access, and designing the architecture, or physical spaces in which they are situated. 4 The abbreviation “LAM” can also refer to librarianship, archival science, and museology. In some instances, it may even function grammatically as an adjective (e.g. a LAM model for instruction). Care is taken to avoid this initialism where there is insufficient context to prevent confusion. 5 ICTOP, “Curricula Guidelines for Professional Development,” revised edition, 2008, ICOM,
  4. 4. 3 “As stewards of cultural heritage, information and ideas, museums and libraries have traditionally played a vital role in helping us experience, explore, discover and make sense of the world. That role is now more essential than ever. Through building technological infrastructure and strengthening community relationships, libraries and museums can offer the public unprecedented access and expertise in transforming information overload into knowledge.”6 Museums, archives, and special collections in libraries are all concerned with preservation, research, and acquisition. LAMs are dedicated to preserving cultural memory and heritage, and to some degree require attention to selection, acquisition, organization, storage, preservation, presentation, and access. It is useful as an exercise to imagine museums as public archives, blending the roles and practices of libraries and archives: their front-end functions (providing public access, showcasing collections, working with local communities, and developing education programs) resemble library work whereas their back-end activities in preservation and storage are more archival in nature. New developments in digital technologies and their implications for access to collections have fuelled the demand for cross-disciplinary coalitions. “When the objects of concern are digital files, the possibilities for sharing best practices for managing digital collections and learning from each other are wide open.”7 In the Information Age, museums, libraries and archives find themselves at a critical juncture in which collaboration can secure their continued relevance as they renegotiate their roles as facilitators of information exchange and protectors of human knowledge and creativity. A Survey of Existing Degree Programs in Museology and their Various Implementations In pioneering a new orientation to a fledgling discipline, a great deal of research is required before planning for its design, implementation, and continued institutional support. There is no clear consensus on what a museology program should look like: even the myriad of inconsistent naming conventions for these degree titles seems to suggest a lack of uniformity in developing museology as an academic field. An examination of graduate program web sites illustrates possible variations of museology integration. There are currently only two museum studies degree programs operating in Canada, one offered in French and the other in English. L'Université de Montréal8 takes a services-based view that places the relationship with the public at the center of museum operations and considerations. The University of Toronto’s museum studies prospectus most closely resembles a LAM system. Established in 2006 and situated within the Faculty of Information, the program of study “provides students with a strong theoretical background and professional understanding of museum origins, ideologies, changing 6 Institute of Museum and Library Services, “About us,” IMLS, 7 Digital Curation Curriculum, “Papers and presentations,” University of North Carolina, 8 Université Laval Departement d’histoire, “Les études en muséology,” Université Laval,
  5. 5. 4 philosophies and current practices. Students attain comprehensive knowledge of the function of museums in their broader social and cultural context and a methodology for research.”9 The Faculty allows students working towards a Master of Information degree to specialize in Library and Information Science, Archives and Records Management, Critical Information Studies, Information Systems and Design, and Knowledge Management and Information Management. Currently, the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto is examining ways to more fully integrate museology as a key participating component in the systematic study of information. Most museum studies offerings, however, are partnered with other cognate disciplines supplying specializations, elective courses, or loose associations. Some examples of these include architecture, arts management, biology (including botany, entomology and zoology), cultural history, entertainment and media management, nonprofit administration, and public history. It is a testament to the value of museum collections and the appeal of nonprofit work that nearly every academic field has found an engaging partner in museum studies. In the North American context, museum issues or their materials have made their way into nearly every academic field imaginable. What these applications share in common is—albeit rudimentary in some cases—an interdisciplinary methodology. Stronger examples of genuine multidisciplinary applications in well- defined museology degree programs include:  Museology and Anthropology10  Museology and Art History11  Museology and Historic Preservation12  Museology and History13 Some graduate programs have opted for greater specialization in the field, offering programs in curatorial studies, historic preservation, museum communication, museum education, museum exhibition, museum management, and museum science. A Vision for Museums and Museology in University Settings The idea of the common-wealth of LAMs, which hinges on a commonality of purpose, implies opportunities for co-operation, and universities are in a unique position to lay the foundation for this enterprise. A holistic approach to libraries, archives and 9 University of Toronto Faculty of Information, “Master of Museum Studies Program of Study,” University of Toronto, 10 Arizona State University,; California State University,; Columbia University,, University of Denver, MuseumStudie.html 11 University of Denver School of Art and Art History, “Concentration in Museum Studies,” University of Denver, 12 University of North Carolina at Greensboro, “Historic Preservation and Museum Studies,” University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 13 Buffalo State University, “History and Museum Studies,” Buffalo State University,
  6. 6. 5 museums yields promising results at the institutional level, including added value, prestige and currency in an increasingly competitive education market. Bridging cultural divisions between universities (situated in the realm of the printed word) and museums (with their focus on objects as tools for learning) will promote research and education, the common fundamental building blocks of their missions.14 Often, the “availability of rich museum and library collections to enhance the education of […] undergraduate and graduate students is tempered by the lengths to which faculty and students must often go to discover and integrate them into courses and research.”15 The centralization and streamlining of the virtual and physical collections and services of the university’s libraries, archives and museums would profoundly impact all research performed by students and professors across departments. This idea is currently being investigated by the RLG Programs project, “Organizational and Service Relationships on the LAM.”16 Yale University’s Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure oversees complementary digitization projects, provides cross-collections searching, and creates shared physical spaces for preservation labs and exhibits.17 Similar ventures met with great success in overcoming fragmented services at the University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, Princeton University, and the University of British Columbia. To strengthen the relationships between libraries, archives and museums, universities should actively encourage members of their communities to “analyse the nature, needs and strengths of potential collaborators” and “envision what ‘fits’ with those collaborators and might truly be mutually beneficial.”18 Academic institutions—as sites of scholarship and formal learning—can foster these partnerships in their local communities, across services, and across departments. Most research on LAMs examines administrative and functional convergences of LAM institutions as opposed to the possibilities for collections-based and pedagogical convergences in academic contexts. Universities can play a greater role in the general development of the library, archive and museum fields by organizing LAMs into a unified academic program within a department where these disciplines may be taught based on their parallel principles and practices. Just as this paper outlines the merits and characteristics of LAM convergences in university programming, students exposed to the three branches of knowledge will have the opportunity to examine them in a broader, yet richer context and build on the traditional skill sets of their individual specialties. “New sets of skills will be required,” Weil suggests, as museums “evolve fully from an inwardly turned institution concerned chiefly with the preservation and study of its collection to an outwardly focused institution primarily devoted to providing a public service.”19 No matter how the balance is tipped, museum work will continue to demand attentiveness to collections and the public. The LAM model is the best suited for imparting these competencies to emerging 14 F.S. Kaplan, “Moving Target,” Museum News (Jan/Feb, 1992), 64-8. 15 Günter Waibel, comment on “Organizational and Service Relationships on the LAM,” HangingTogether RLG Programs Blog, comment posted on July 30, 2007, 16 Research Libraries Group, “Organization and Service Relationships on the LAM Project,” OCLC, 17 Yale University Office of Public Affairs, “New Office will Coordinate Digitization of Yale Resources,” Yale Bulletin, September 26, 2008, 18 Stephen Weil, “Training for Tomorrow’s Museums,” New Directions in Professional Museum Education and Training, ed. Saskia Brown, ICTOP Study Series 10 (Groeninghe, Belgium: ICOM, 2002), 7 19 Ibid., 6.
  7. 7. 6 museum professionals, as they will benefit from exploring the primarily inwardly centered organizational culture of archives (with its focus on preservation) and the generally outwardly centered organizational culture of libraries (with its focus on service). A Theoretical Framework for Museum Pedagogy In this section, I will provide a theoretical foundation for the design and implementation of a museology specialization as part of a LAM approach to information studies. Musealisation in the theoretical approach of special museology is reduced to the analytical interest in those characteristics of an object which are the object of study and investigation by a scientific discipline. Due to this, the practical instructions for activities in specialized museums do not have the comprehensive museological character contemporary museology demands.20 Contemporary museology demands treatment of objects as transmitters of information, for which meaning is determined by context, not by inherent qualities of the object. Maroevic illustrates a critical issue echoed in the survey’s findings: with the staggering number of different museology adoptions in universities, common sense would hold that some are more effective than others, and that some instances of this interdisciplinarity poorly grasp or impede applications of museological methods. Many of these schools of thought focus exclusively on the object and lack the tools to adequately convey the complex structures and contexts of museum collections and the spaces they occupy. Pedagogical divergences—gaps or alternative emphases in course content, dissimilar mission statements, goals or objectives—expose profound theoretical differences between museology and professedly complementary disciplines. Archaeological methods stress field work, material culture, classification, and preservation, but not presentation or access. Pedagogies in art history are typically celebratory and object- oriented in a way that emphasizes observable aesthetic value (but not the intangible documentary value) and select, learnable contexts. Similar to Maroevic’s example of analytic authority in a scientific pairing, the social sciences tend to stipulate the production of meaning thereby restricting possibilities for learning through museum collections. The perceived need of approaching museum work through these subject- specific disciplines is based on “conventions that have long distinguished art, ethnological, and history museums.”21 If in re-imagining museum objects, we find that their basic properties and functions are consistent and defined more by their form than their subject, then these distinctions begin to disappear and new possibilities emerge. Effective museum practices require interdisciplinary contextualization, but perhaps the most promising association has gone generally unnoticed and untested. 20 Ivo Maroevic, “Museology as a Field of Knowledge,” Cahiers d’étude, ICOFOM Study Series 8 (Groeninghe, Belgium: ICOM, 2000), 8. 21 George Washington University Museum Studies Program, “Museum Studies Courses,”
  8. 8. 7 From a theoretical standpoint, museology and information studies are mutually beneficial. In line with fundamental principles of information studies, museums “deal with the object itself, collections of objects and with all the possible relations which the object entertains within a specific context.”22 It is essential that we reinvent our pedagogies and begin to view museum collections through this lens. This application allows audiences to relate to items in museum collections as information objects; traditional learning models treat museum materials as discrete entities, useful insofar as their surface-level qualities and their ability to animate a singular reading of a historical context. “Every object is in part a historic document. It contains information about the materials from which it was made, the way in which it was assembled, and every incident which occurred in its life.”23 Objects contain evidence just as much as paper and electronic records. Interpreting and presenting this information, however, is often problematic, but more so without a basis in the principles of collection, classification, preservation, and access used by libraries and archives. Museum collections can support scholarship and education that rely on textual records of information. In today’s digital environments and with technology-driven learning in classrooms, this is not only more feasible but more imperative for the development of knowledge and learning in all disciplines. The evolving field of information studies now applies its principles and methods to a wide range of assets such as tacit knowledge, audiovisual materials, web content, e-mail and other born-digital electronic records. It must now acknowledge museum objects in the same manner. “Given the increasing amount of digital content held in museums, including digitized images of collections, multimedia art, and digital content held in science museums, there appears to be a significant gap between the education of information specialists who will work in museum settings and the realities they will be facing in the workplace.”24 Bridging this gap requires a shared knowledge set between museum and information studies. While museology promises to extend the inclusiveness and comprehensiveness of information studies, the methodological underpinnings of information studies will “help museology to define its tasks and research objectives more systematically.”25 Work must be performed to construct a system of procedures for the development and implementation of a museology program of study that not just supplements but complements library and archival learning. 22 Ivo Maroevic, “Museology as a Field of Knowledge,” 5. 23 Chris Caple, Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making (New York: Routledge, 2000), 29. 24 Helen Tibbo and W. Duff, “Toward a Digital Curation Curriculum for Museum Studies: a North American Perspective” (paper presented at annual conference of CIDOC, September 15-18, 2008), 25 Ivo Maroevic, “Museology as a Field of Knowledge,” 6.
  9. 9. 8 Curriculum The design of a complete museology curriculum emphasizing information studies methodologies should consider standards for best practices advocated by organizations comprised of museum professionals and instructors. It should also recognize the limitations of these guidelines, particularly when a new application for museum learning has been formulated. Curriculum building must maintain as its focus the unique conception and context of the museology degree in development. The right path towards course planning should firmly plant at its starting point the pedagogical roots of the particular proposal. The development of the program and its deliverables should evince documented core values. The idea of documentation has proven urgently important for this work: few universities disseminate any documentation on the considerations and processes that were involved at the program planning stage. It is difficult to advance the academic status of museology in any form without knowing what outcomes have been projected, how universities expected to meet these outcomes, and in what ways they either failed or succeeded. As an alternative, universities are expected to mimic existing curricula and broadly-oriented curricula standards. This severely restricts the ability of newly created programs to be responsive to the most recent disciplinary developments and ensure innovativeness, even during a time of profound shifts in museum practice. The International Committee for Museology drafted its first set of curricula guidelines in 1971 under the title, Basic Syllabus for Professional Museum Training.26 It would take another six years, however, before a committee was formed to promote the recognition of museology as a systematic discipline taught in universities.27 The most current list of proposed guidelines (still under review) continues to favor ongoing or mid- career professional development. Furthermore, the popular treatment of museology as vocational education or something of an applied science impedes its legitimacy as an academic field. A curriculum based on the theory previously discussed and developed for the LAM context must depart from the training-based epistemology that underlies the ICOM guidelines in favor of a model that espouses theory as much as practice. The aim of this research has been to construct a curriculum that balances professional and academic instruction, incorporates emerging areas of interest for the future of museums, and emphasizes the most important competencies required for museum work. Recent scholarship in museum learning theory informed the professional- academic balance of this curriculum. Emerging considerations in the field were discovered in conference proceedings and LISTSERV® e-mail lists including H- Museum,28 Museum-Ed,29 MCN-L,30 and ICOM-L.31 Functional requirements were determined by measuring the frequency of their inclusion in existing degree programs. This curriculum also gives priority to critical skills for museum work shared by either libraries or archives, or both. 26 ICOM, Basic Syllabus for Professional Museum Training (1971), 27 International Council for Museology, “About ICOFOM,” ICOFOM, 28 Humanities and Social Sciences Online, “H-Museum,” H-Net, 29 Museum-Ed, “Discussion List,” Museum-Ed, 30 Museum Computer Network, “MCN-L,” MCN, 31 International Council of Museums, “ICOM-L,” ICOM,
  10. 10. 9 This LAM model museology curriculum takes the form of syllabi with descriptions of purposes, learning outcomes, sequence of topics, activities, evaluation techniques for each course. Coverage is informed by course syllabi, standards for best practices prepared by professional associations, and a working knowledge of librarianship and archival studies. Tibbo and Duff placed main themes in a hierarchy based on their appeal factor and perceived usefulness as measured in student survey research.32 These topics are marked with an asterisk. Areas requiring the least emphasis are education, interpretation, information management, and fundraising and marketing. Students in the field were most interested in preparation for positions as directors and managers, and in learning about new technologies and media. In order to optimize appeal and impact, implementation should be customized according to these recent findings as well as measured local interest. Theory must remain an integral part of all formal museum instruction because of the need for critical scholarship in restructuring the discipline as we forge ahead into the 21st century. Every course stresses practical skills, especially in those areas of museum work considered necessary for all or most professionals. Practice, however, is largely limited to student-driven, community-based experiential learning like internships. Courses requiring hands-on or on-site practice should provide sufficient flexibility to allow students to customize and direct their own learning. A committee comprised of LAM instructors should periodically review and refine their curriculum to ensure that the program is at the forefront of new developments in theory and practice and affords students opportunities to conduct innovative and meaningful research. Where there are duplicated efforts in librarianship or archival science, instruction can be generalized to a common set of needs in core courses taken by all LAM students. As a final note, I have taken care where possible to integrate information studies vocabulary to facilitate adoption: “building this curriculum is an attempt “not only “to map […] the necessary functions and skills [common] among the library, archives, and museum domains, but to translate the terminology that represents these functions.”33 Foundations of Museology The introductory course should provide a general overview of the history, functions, activities, and context of museums. A successful course will introduce the terminology and basic concepts needed for in-depth, critical study in museology. At the beginning of the course, students might be asked to write an informal response in which they share their personal interest in museology, a memorable museum experience, and their expectations for the course and program. Initial instruction should cover definitions, roles, functions, and overall operations of museums. George Washington University, as an example, recommends an exploration of the “development of museums as authoritative institutions that define and mediate cultural knowledge, aesthetic value, even national identity through selection, display, and 32 Helen Tibbo and W. Duff, “Toward a Digital Curation Curriculum for Museum Studies: a North American Perspective” (paper presented at annual conference of CIDOC, September 15-18, 2008), 33 Ibid., 17.
  11. 11. 10 interpretation of objects.”34 In an information context, museums are engaged in the selection, acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of material information and immaterial cultural knowledge. An important topic to cover is the historical evolution of museums and related institutions, including the documented and theoretical intersections of museums, libraries and archives. This topic might also include discussion of museum settings and architecture. The history of libraries, archives and museums could also be offered as a separate elective course culminating in a research paper and presentation that allows students to explore a topic of personal interest in detail. Introducing the typology of museums encourages students to consider preferred work environments that might direct their research interests for the remainder of the program. This topic should briefly define the following types with visual aides:  General museums  National museums  Local history museums  Historic homes and monuments  Living history sites  Museums in situ  Open air museums  Ecomuseums  University museums  Mobile museums  Virtual museums  Children’s museums  Zoological gardens  Botanical gardens  Science museums  Natural history museums  Art museums  History museums  Specialized museums35 It is not uncommon to offer elective courses related to a specific museum context, such as national museums,36 but a museology program in a LAM model should not overload course selections with instruction on subject-specific (e.g. natural history museums) or context-specific (e.g. living history sites) museums. A conversation about typography could lead into a review of local museums and their web sites so that students can begin to consider employment and internship placement. This idea of the broader context can also be relayed with a few words on: 34 George Washington University Museum Studies Program, “Museum Studies Courses,” GWU, 35 Some examples of specialized museums include literary, anthropology, health, maritime, music, war, and transportation museums. 36 For foundational readings on the subject of national museums, consider the Roger Kennedy and Annie Coombes articles in Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).
  12. 12. 11  Benefits of participation in professional associations  Value of community involvement and the museum professional’s obligation to the public  Importance of lifelong learning through career development opportunities to remain au courant with the latest developments in the field. Finally, students should expect to examine mission statements, the structure of the museum, and various professions and their qualifications. Museum Research and Evaluation* Topics in research and evaluation are essential in order to familiarize emerging museum professionals with museum writing, resources for museology research, and evaluation techniques. This unit should be integrated into a Research Methods course and Information Sources course for all LAM students. Exhibition Development* Museum exhibitions should invite reflection, provoke reaction, and instill wonder. As the displays of collections, they are the primary means by which audiences receive and interact with information sources. This course introduce students to the theories of exhibition development. Key concepts include planning and the selection of materials and related textual information, abstracting and annotating, interpretation, label writing, installation, maintenance of long-term exhibitions, promotion, ethics, and evaluation. Students will analyze these issues for traveling, interactive, virtual, and temporary and long-term on-site exhibits. The course will cover methods of interpretation of visual and material culture, considerations for multimedia, exhibitions and technology, and partnering with other museums. Students should also learn to “build effective design documents, and how exhibit team members contribute to the exhibit design and planning process.” 37 Visits to museums are vital in this course, though incidental in all others listed in this curriculum. Evaluations of exhibits in local museums or the university’s museums are part of a standard learning outcome in museology curricula. Students would need to infer the claims and biases of the curators; analyze the exhibit’s organization and design; discuss how the objects, design, and associated text convey information; compare similar exhibits; and make recommendations for improvements. These critiques should demonstrate an understanding of basic exhibition development principles. Building on this work, students will design and construct virtual exhibits in small groups that include interpretive web content, a multimedia element, and visual resources found in libraries and archives (e.g. a virtual exhibit of card catalogs). Students will need to document all processes as would be performed in a museum setting, from the planning and selection stage to interpretation and finally installation. 37 Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, “Course Descriptions and Curriculum Plans,” IUPUI,
  13. 13. 12 Collection Development* The collection development course provides an introduction to museum collections, their management and care. While fundamental functions and activities in collection development remain relatively unchanged in the LAM framework, students should be expected to extend their knowledge of library and archival principles to theories of objects and collections. In-class discussion and a writing assignment should cover some of the following questions:  What is an object?38 Is an object different from an item? What are examples of museum objects? What qualities should all object share? How are objects different from art works? How are objects different from the material holdings of libraries and archives?  How does something become a museum object? Can anything be an object? An automobile? Homes? Clothing? Teeth? Architectural rubble? Barbed wire? Medicine? Food? Windows? Living animals? Microbes?  When does an aggregation become a collection? What do we need to consider in acquisition and appraisal? When and why deaccession? What are the functions of objects as part of a museum collection? What is the relationship of museum collections to library collections and archives?  Leinhardt and Crowley continue to debate the most important qualities of objects with their ideas about authenticity, scale, and “resolution and density of information.”39 (Leinhardt and Crowley, 2-3) What is the informational value of objects? What are the their most important qualities or characteristics as information objects? How can museum present those aspects?  What about intangible heritage?40 (e.g. holidays, storytelling, dance, festivals, mythology)  How might the theoretical understandings of these concepts impact museum policies and practice? In terms of description? Organization? Exhibit construction? Interactivity? Learning experiences? Conservation? Digital re- presentation? 38 Elaine Heumann Gurian, “What Is the Object of This Exercise? A Meandering Exploration of the Many Meanings of Objects in Museums,” Reinventing the Museum: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift, ed. Gail Anderson (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004), 269-284. 39 Gaea Leinhardt and Kevin Crowley, “Objects of Learning, Objects of Talk: Changing Minds in Museums,” Multiple Perspectives on Children’s Object-Centered Learning, ed. S. Paris (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, in press), 2-3, 40 UNESCO, “Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” UNESCO (May 18, 2001),
  14. 14. 13 This course must also cover cataloging standards and the importance of documentation of all activities and policies (including accessioning, object provenance, exhibition histories, conservation histories, loan histories). Collection management is concerned with the object throughout its life cycle, an idea shared in records management. As such, students will need to learn techniques for the “detection and identification of deterioration in objects made of organic and inorganic materials.”41 Students will benefit from either on-site conservation laboratory observation or in-class guest lectures. Conservation and restoration must cover, at a minimum:  Proper storage techniques and systems  Environmental control  Disaster preparedness  Risk management  Selecting for conservation  Ethical issues (reversibility, minimal intervention)  Cleaning  Stabilization  Preventive conservation  Preservation in situ  Documentation In addition, instructors or guest lecturers may cover archaeological and architectural preservation, and collection management issues unique to unusual materials, forms and formats. Wrapping up the course is the theme of ethical and legal issues in museums, which could also be taught as a separate unit. Some topics include:  Accountability and compliance  Problems with remote access  Stolen art and the ethics of acquisition  Authentication  Ethics of conservation (reversibility, minimal intervention)  Cultural property  Copyright  Intellectual Property ‘  Liability  Censorship  Repatriation  International efforts 41 University of Kansas, “Museum Studies at the University of Kansas,” University of Kansas,
  15. 15. 14 Digital Curation Museology students should be required to complete a general course on digital preservation offered to all LAM students. A preservation course should incorporate readings, digitization project case studies, and metadata standards specific to visual works, geospatial information, and three-dimensional objects. A useful source for current information is the Digital Curation Curriculum project and its work to identify “what skills are necessary for digital curation professionals working in libraries, archives, museums, data centers, and other data-intensive organizations.”42 DigCCurr has expanded the scope of preservation by stating that “our cultural heritage, modern scientific knowledge, and everyday commerce and government depend upon the preservation of reliable and authentic electronic records and digital objects.”43 Museum Education The focus of a course in museum education must maintain an appropriate theoretical-practical balance and bridge concepts in librarianship and archival science. This course asks how “artifact-based museums [can] provide unique educational experiences” while realizing that these cultural institutions “exist to collect, to conduct research on, and to display pieces of art, history, and natural history that are far too valuable to put into interactive settings.”44 Students will get an overview of educational services and cultural activities, planning considerations, interpretation, and evaluation in on-site and distance learning settings. An indispensable resource is the Shaping Outcomes cooperative project from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which has developed an online curriculum tool to help library and museum professionals as well as students plan and evaluate programs based on measurable outcomes.45 Museum Management Most management principles are common across the LAM disciplines. A general management course could incorporate readings covering the basic principles of non- profits administration, museum governance, volunteer management, the museum context in fundraising, marketing, and public relations. 42 Digital Curation Curriculum, “Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum (DigCCurr),” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 43 Ibid. 44 Gaea Leinhardt and Kevin Crowley, “Objects of Learning, Objects of Talk: Changing Minds in Museums,” Multiple Perspectives on Children’s Object-Centered Learning, ed. S. Paris (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, in press), 2, 45 Natasha Solomon, Bethany Fales, and Stefanie Gerber, “Shaping Outcomes,” IUPUI/IMLS,
  16. 16. 15 Information Technologies in Museums* Information technology is the focus of numerous projects spearheaded by professional associations and easily the most prevalent topic in current museological discourse. Only recently has the museum profession stepped out of its generally conservative ethos to consider all the opportunities made possible by emerging technologies. The University of Toronto is slated to submit a report on the expanding role of technology in museums, the necessary skills to adapt to these changes, and existing gaps in the curriculum.46 There is good reason to believe that collaboration between the LAM academic disciplines can provide students with adequate and topical instruction where there might otherwise be gaps in an independent model for formal museum training. This course is intended to be a discussion-based, theory-oriented elective with the assumption that a department of LAM studies will offer a common course in web and database design and management for all three programs. Students taking this course require competency in technical web design and digitization practices; as such, they will have needed to pass a course in web design in addition to having already taken or are co- currently taking Digital Curation. This course proposes and often returns to the question of how and in what ways information technology can shape the future of museums. It will examine implications for all major functions of the museums, including educational programming, conservation and preservation, and exhibition design. Weekly readings and case studies will facilitate in-class discussion. Students should be expected to independently discover innovative technical projects, articles, news items, blogs, research, working papers, and Web 2.0 applications to introduce regularly into discussions and to present as a report to their peers at least once. The instructor might want to ask students to compile a list of found resources to disseminate to their classmates, since the goal of this course is to familiarize students with information sources they can return to upon completion of the program to keep abreast with technological changes in the museum field. Museum Internship Every student in the museology program should have the opportunity to intern at a recognized museum or related institution in the community or on campus under the supervision and evaluation of a member of the LAM faculty and an employee at the selected site. The Michigan State University museum studies syllabi provide a rather comprehensive description of internship deliverables:47  To develop patterns of professional behavior and skills  To apply academic knowledge to a museum work situation 46 University of Toronto Faculty of Information, “Faculty of Information Takes Lead in Future of Museums,” University of Toronto, information-takes-lead-in-future-of-museums 47 Michigan State University Museum Studies, “Internships,” Michigan State University,
  17. 17. 16  To function as a professional within a museum environment, as well as in the broader community of museums  To increase awareness of current and practical museum issues and trends  To gain knowledge of the organizational structure of a museum and to develop understanding of governance and administrative operations  To acquire knowledge and skills related to specific areas of museum work  To develop the ability to identify, assess, and solve on-the-job museum problems  To assess and re-assess individual professional goals and development Independent Study The independent study in museology would consist of supervised, in-depth study of a particular topic in museology through reading and research. Students should be encouraged to make use of research activities, current exhibitions, and education opportunities happening at that time in local museums or at the university. The independent study is also an excellent opportunity for students to conduct innovative LAM-oriented research with topics such as:  Archival practice in maritime museums  Using research libraries in museums  The design of public library exhibitions  History of the Smithsonian museum archives The Future of Museums The LAM-model museology curriculum is only intended to be a starting point for further development. It is my hope that academic and professional communities continue to discuss possibilities for convergences of libraries, archives and museums in academic instruction not as resources or service providers but as disciplines in their own right. For that to happen, museology scholarship and training must provide: 1. Curricula guidelines that reflect best practices in and expected outcomes of various multidisciplinary pedagogies 2. Sufficient flexibility in formal education programs to better equip emerging professionals with the tools to effectively navigate an exceedingly complex museum environment 3. Equal consideration for postgraduate education and professional development in conference proceedings, published research, and mission statements of professional organizations The museum community needs to evaluate the many incarnations of degree programs and theorize new models, but will require more precise terminology, institutional funding, and increased access to published scholarship and working papers. Lois Irvine articulated some of the more basic concerns in program development, asking:
  18. 18. 17 “How do we deal with the huge range of subjects that we have unleashed and still retain our focus on the fundamental knowledge and competency requirements that are necessary for museum work? How do we encourage the necessary depth of specialisation for scholarship and judgment that we feel is critical to museum credibility while at the same time expanding our horizons to make our work relevant to current and potential audiences?”48 What is needed is an international project that first isolates, identifies, and evaluates core practical and theoretical aspects to be covered in pre-entry education, and then drafts and freely disseminates curricula guidelines based on these stated goals and tailored to hybrid postgraduate degree programs. The future of museums and cultural institutions, at a time of severe cuts to funding, will be sustained by the input of a growing and dedicated group of emerging professionals. As Francis Henry Taylor wrote in Babel’s Tower: The Dilemma of the Modern Museum in 1945, “each generation has been obliged to interpret this vague word ‘museum’ according to the social requirements of the day.”49 This, then, is our perennial task as we toil in the borderlands between the vulnerable stories of our collective past and the stories yet to be written. Neither form nor format will keep us from preserving the former and making room for the latter. The social requirements of today demand that we bridge the gaps between our institutions. The LAM model for graduate education is just one interpretation, but few efforts could be more rewarding than the creation of a scholastic enterprise that—generations later—might continue to inspire others to take on the obligation of re-inventing that vague word and provide for the common-wealth of our most enduring and indeed endearing institutions—libraries, archives and museums. 48 Lois Irvine, “Taking on the World: Museums, Contemporary Issues, New Skills,” New Directions in Professional Museum Education and Training, ed. Saskia Brown, ICTOP Study Series 10 (Groeninghe, Belgium: ICOM, 2002), 4-5, 49 Lynne Teather, “Museum Studies Borderlands: Negotiating Curriculum and Competencies” (paper presented to ICTOP-Lisbon, October, 2008), 8,
  19. 19. 18 Bibliography Arizona State University. “The ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change Offers a Unique Interdisciplinary Museum Anthropology Program.” Arizona State University. Buffalo State University. “History and Museum Studies.” Buffalo State University. California State University, Chico. “The Option in Museum Studies.” California State University, Chico. A. Caple, Chris. Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making. New York: Routledge, 2000. Columbia University Department of Anthropology. “M.A. in Museum Anthropology.” Columbia University. .. Digital Curation Curriculum. “Papers and presentations.” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Digital Curation Curriculum. “Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum (DigCCurr).” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. George Washington University Museum Studies Program. “Museum Studies Courses.” George Washington University. Gurian, Elaine Heumann. “What Is the Object of This Exercise? A Meandering Exploration of the Many Meanings of Objects in Museums.” Reinventing the Museum: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift. Edited by Gail Anderson, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004. Hudson, K. “The Museum Refuses to Stand Still.” Museum International 197 (Jan.-Mar. 1998). Humanities and Social Sciences Online. “H-Museum.” H-Net. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. “Course Descriptions and Curriculum Plans.” IUPUI.
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  22. 22. 21 Waibel, Günter. comment on “Organizational and Service Relationships on the LAM.” HangingTogether RLG Programs Blog. comment posted on July 30, 2007. Weil, Stephen. “Training for Tomorrow’s Museums.” New Directions in Professional Museum Education and Training. Edited by Saskia Brown, ICTOP Study Series 10, Groeninghe, Belgium: ICOM, 2002. Yale University Office of Public Affairs. “New Office will Coordinate Digitization of Yale Resources.” Yale Bulletin. September 26, 2008.