Museum Studies

College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Dean: Andrew Harris

School of Art

Director: Gail Dawson

Museum Studies Program

Fine Arts Building, Room 265
Phone: 415-405-0599
Fax: 415-338-6537
Email: museumst@sfsu.edu
Web: http://museumstudies.sfsu.edu

Director and Graduate Coordinator: Edward M. Luby

Mission

The mission of the Museum Studies Program is to develop future museum professionals through highly structured coursework in a setting where museums’ educational efforts, collections and interactions with community are of central concern. Students are engaged in a 21st-century landscape, where responsiveness to the significant changes taking place in the museum profession are integrated into curriculum, activities and professional development.

Program Scope

The Master of Arts in Museum Studies program is designed to provide professional training in major areas of museum work—Museum Management & Fundraising, Curatorship, Registration/Collections Management, Exhibition Design, Cultural Property Law and Protection, and Museum Education & Public Programming. The program builds upon students’ previous academic studies in museum-related disciplines by emphasizing practical experience, professionalism, and important developments in the field of Museum Studies. Museum Studies students include mid-career museum professionals, people from other professional career fields, and recent B.A. graduates.

The mission of the program is to develop future museum professionals through highly structured coursework in a setting where museums’ educational efforts, collections, and interactions with community are of central concern, and in a 21st century landscape, where responsiveness to the significant changes taking place in the museum profession are integrated into curriculum, activities, and professional development. The M.A. in Museum Studies is unique to SF State, and is the only one of its kind in a public university in the state of California, either in the California State University or University of California systems.

The program operates a museum with permanent collections that is volunteer-operated and for which admission is free. Museum Studies students not only staff the museum, but also produce all exhibitions and related educational and public programming. Facilities include a specialized lab, teaching space, and collections storage.

Career Outlook

Museum Studies Program alumni have found employment at all career levels in museums of all sizes and types throughout the U.S. The Museum Studies Program partners with the School of Art, Special Collections at the Leonard Library, and other units on campus on projects and courses that prepare students for employment in all types of museums, cultural arts centers, arts commissions, historical sites and houses, science centers, environmental education centers, libraries with exhibition programs, exhibit design firms, auction houses, planetaria, aquaria, zoos, and botanical gardens.

Admission to the Program

Students are admitted in the program for fall terms only. To be admitted to classified status, a student must meet all general University requirements. No more than 6 units of work taken in post-baccalaureate status are transferable to M.A. degree credit in the museum studies program.

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must:

  • Have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university in one of the following or related fields: anthropology, archaeology, art history, classics, design, education, history, biological or physical sciences, or public/art administration. Additional museum experience beyond the minimum required is expected when a student has a degree in a field not listed.
  • Have at least a minimum grade point average of 3.20 in the last 60 semester units of upper-division courses completed.
  • Be able to demonstrate understanding of the work and profession of museum studies, gained through paid or volunteer experience (minimum of six months) in a museum or related setting. Experience can be completed prior to or concurrent with application to the program.
  • Submit to the Museum Studies program two letters of recommendation from faculty or supervisors knowledgeable of the applicant’s academic or professional ability. At least one of these letters should be from a museum supervisor.
  • Submit to the Museum Studies program a current resumé and written statement of purpose, outlining background, intentions, and goals as specified in the program’s admissions procedures. Each applicant is encouraged to specify as closely as possible the emphasis s/he wishes to pursue.
  • Send one set of transcripts of all prior academic work directly to the Museum Studies program. Another set is required by the university graduate admissions office.
  • Submit GRE scores with a minimum of 4.5 or better on the analytical writing section, and 156 or better on the verbal reasoning section. Past scores will be accepted if taken within five years of the semester the applicant wishes to attend.
  • Submit a paper TOEFL score of at least 550 or a computer-based score of 80 to the graduate admissions office, if an international applicant is from a non-English speaking countries.

Applications for admission are due February 1. Domestic applicants may be contacted by the Museum Studies program for interviews only if needed, and, if application files are complete and received by February 1.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

The University has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different points in a student's program.

Level One (must be met prior to admission)

GRE scores with a minimum of 4.5 or better on the analytical writing section, and a 156 or better on the qualitative section.

Level Two (toward the end of the program)

Grade of B+ or above on final research papers for M S 700 or M S 860.

Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting all general requirements for advancement to candidacy, applicants must, in addition, have completed with a grade of B or better each of the following courses: M S 700 and M S 880.

Professors

Luby, Lyall

Lecturers

DeMouthe, Fogarty, Kienzle, Osborne

Minor in Museum Studies

The Museum Studies Minor is rigorous, interdisciplinary, and pre-professional in nature. Coursework emphasizes acquiring knowledge in museum practice and theory to understand the public service role of museums and to apply this knowledge to support the work of museums in creating exhibits, educating the public, and caring for collections, through collaborative efforts. Students gain a useful set of pre-professional skills in museum practice, relevant information about museum theory and history, and learn about future careers in museums and informal educational settings.  Written, oral and critical thinking skills are developed to evaluate the work of museums. The Museum Studies Minor will prepare students for the terminal M.A. degree in Museum Studies, or for additional on-the-job training for work in museums. Graduates will appreciate the role and power of museums in the world as centers of learning, enjoyment, and community engagement, and as stewards of cultural and natural heritage. Admission to the Minor is open to all students with upper division standing and who have completed M S 201 and M S 202 with a minimum grade of C.

Museum Studies Minor Learning Outcomes

  1. Acquire and combine general education skills with relevant knowledge and information on museum practice and theory to understand and discuss the public service role of museums in a multicultural world 
  2. Apply knowledge of museum practice and theory as a pre-professional to support the work of museums in creating exhibits, educating the public, caring for collections, and serving the public, through collaborative work
  3. Use written, oral and critical thinking skills to apply knowledge of museum practice and theory to evaluate the work of museums
  4. Acquire knowledge of museum practice and theory to serve as an advocate for the role of museums as centers of education, community, and preservation

Museum Studies Minor — 18 units

Required Courses

M S 201Introduction to the History and Development of Museums3
M S 202Introduction to Museum Exhibits3
M S 310Introduction to Museum Education Methods and Community Engagement3
M S 681Museum Studies Lab3
Plus one course selected in consultation with an advisor3
M S 682Capstone Practicum3

Museum Studies (M.A.) — Minimum 33 units

Core Requirements (9 units)

M S 700History and Organization of Museums (required during first semester of program)3
M S 860Fundraising in Museums3
M S 880Museum Internship3

Area Requirements (9 units)

Select 3 units of coursework from each of the following three groups:9
Collections Care and Conservation
Museum Conservation and Restoration
Museum Collections Management and Registration
Integrated Pest Management in Heritage Facilities
Museum Security Systems
Museum Facilities Management
Museum Management
Museum Management, Law, and Ethics
Museum Governance
Perspectives on Nonprofit Management
Exhibition Design
Exhibition Design
Museum Curatorship and Collecting
Museum Exhibition Planning and Design

Area Emphasis (12 units)

Select four electives relevant to the following areas. No more than 6 units of non-museum studies courses may count towards electives in the area emphasis. Courses must be chosen in consultation with a museum studies faculty advisor.

  • Curatorship
  • Exhibition Design
  • Cultural Property Law and Protection
  • Museum Management and Fundraising
  • Museum Education and Public Programming
  • Registration/Collections Management

Culminating Experience Requirement (3 units)

M S 894Creative Work Project3
or M S 898 Master's Thesis

If the thesis or creative work project is not completed during the semester the student is enrolled in M S 894 or M S 898, the student is required to enroll in M S 897, a continuation course, in the third semester following their initial enrollment in M S 898 or M S 894. If the thesis or creative work project is not completed at the end of the third semester, students are required to enroll in the College of Extended Learning’s course, LCA 499 “Culminating Experience Continuous Enrollment,” and must maintain continuous enrollment in LCA 499 each fall and spring semester thereafter until graduation or until the department’s five-year deadline for completing the degree.

M S 201 Introduction to the History and Development of Museums (Units: 3)

Introduction to basic theory and organization of museums including the history of museum development, the role of museums in society, museums as places of preservation and education, and the relationship between museums and the communities they serve. (Plus-minus letter grade only)

M S 202 Introduction to Museum Exhibits (Units: 3)

Examination of basics of museum exhibits, including key elements of how exhibits are planned and developed, their purpose, how they are connected to public programming, and the role of visitors. Contains an exhibit viewing component. (Plus-minus letter grade only)

Course Attributes:

  • C1: Arts

M S 310 Introduction to Museum Education Methods and Community Engagement (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Upper division standing; M S 201 and M S 202, with a grade of C or better.

Introduction to the important role museums play in society, including preservation and education. Main content themes include: the history of the paradigm shift from collecting institutions to public, educational institutions; public programs serving diverse audiences; object-based learning; museum-school services; community outreach; visitor studies; and assessment. (Plus-minus letter grade only)

M S 605 San Francisco Bay Area Museums: Behind the Scenes (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: ENG 214 and consent of instructor.

Study of San Francisco Bay Area museums: their history, organization, collections stewardship, exhibits, public programs, and mission. Includes structured "behind-the-scenes" tours of local museums.

M S 680 Cultural Heritage Preservation (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: ENG 214 or equivalent.

Archaeological and architectural conservation: history of U.S. legislation and implementation, international organizations, major national and international projects, philosophy of preservation strategies, conservation ethic.

M S 681 Museum Studies Lab (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Upper division standing; declared minor in Museum Studies; M S 201 and M S 202, with a grade of C or better.

Lab course with lecture and practicum activities in selected museum functions in SF State¿s Global Museum, using the museum¿s interdisciplinary teaching and research collections. (Plus-minus letter grade only)

M S 682 Capstone Practicum (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Upper division standing; declared minor in Museum Studies; M S 681 with a grade of C or better.

Practicum at a pre-approved, off-campus museum site, in museum collections management and registration, exhibition design, interpretation, gallery preparation and installation, education and public programming, and gallery management or administration, under the supervision of a professional museum employee and SF State instructor.

M S 700 History and Organization of Museums (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status and/or consent of instructor.

Major museology facets, including analysis of diverse museums, career options, ethics, laws, funding, and literature. Museum operation and community-museum relationships through on-site observations, interviews, and research.

M S 701 Museum Theory and Practice (Units: 2)

Prerequisites: Upper division undergraduate or classified graduate standing; completion of M S 700; or consent of instructor.

Exploration of recent theory in museum studies, focusing on the theoretical approaches supplying insight into developing useful strategies in museum practice. Analysis of the museum's function, management, and place in society, including research on practice, history, and outlook.

M S 702 Writing for the Museum Profession (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Museum Studies or consent of instructor.

Examination of three major areas of writing for the museum profession: communication with visitors; technical writing for interpretation, outreach, programming, and documentation; and writing in an academic context. (Plus-minus letter grade only)

M S 707 Perspectives on Museums: A Professional Forum (Unit: 1)

Prerequisite: Upper division undergraduate or classified graduate standing; museum studies major or consent of instructor.

Guest speakers from the museum community to provide graduate students with perspectives and discussion on current practices and trends in the museum work place.

M S 708 Museums: Global Operations (Unit: 1)

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor.

Examination of museum efforts to incorporate global perspectives into their activities. Topics include analyses of international partnerships and globally-focused museum activities, the challenges of such work, and basic resources on international museum efforts.

M S 710 Museum Education and School Outreach (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status and consent of instructor.

Overview and evaluation of educational services in museums, including the planning and implementation of educational programs and establishing a liaison with public schools. Designed for graduate students, museum professionals, and public school teachers. (Plus-minus letter grade only.) [CSL may be available; consult index for page reference.]

M S 715 Interpretation in Museums and Heritage Organizations (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status and consent of instructor.

Analysis of the methods and styles of interpretation of museum collections and heritage facilities (e.g., historic sites, historic houses, landmarks, open-air facilities). Development and improvement of interpretive programs.

M S 720 Museum Curatorship and Collecting (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Classified graduate level status.

Analysis of the duties of museum curators, including academic research, collections documentation, collections development, donor cultivation, ethical collection practices, exhibition concept development, and the curator's position within the institution and community. May be repeated for a total of 6 units. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 730 Museum Exhibition Planning and Design (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate level status.

Theory and practical experience in the development and installation of exhibitions in museums and related exhibition spaces in libraries or similar institutions, including collaborations between such entities. May be repeated for a total of 6 units. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 740 Museum Conservation and Restoration (Unit: 1)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status in M S.

Theory and practice in museum conservation and restoration, using the Sutro Egyptian and permanent collections. Analysis of museum artifacts.

M S 760 Preservation of Natural History and Cultural Collections (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate level status or senior with consent of instructor.

Analysis of major types of natural history specimens, their properties, potential hazards facing them, and appropriate conservation techniques.

M S 790 Archives Management and Preservation (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate level status or senior with consent of instructor.

History, principles, methodologies, and practical administration of non-electronic archives (original documents, maps, photographic materials, manuscripts, diaries, albums, government records); practical, hands-on experience with preservation methods. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 791 Integrated Pest Management in Heritage Facilities (Unit: 1)

Prerequisite: Museum Studies major or consent of instructor.

Development of plans to prevent pest infestations in museums and related heritage facilities. Overview of current methods of chemical and non-chemical methods of control, legacy of past chemical practices in museums, and OSHA regulations for employee safety.

M S 792 Museum Security Systems (Unit: 1)

Prerequisite: Museum Studies major or current museum employee.

Analysis and implementation of institutional procedures and new technology for theft prevention and mitigation in museums.

M S 793 Museum Facilities Management (Unit: 1)

Prerequisite: Museum Studies major or consent of instructor.

Analysis of building and grounds issues; risk management; emergency/disaster preparedness; fire suppression technology; HVAC systems; new construction materials.

M S 794 Museum Collections Management and Registration (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status in museum studies.

Tasks performed by museum registrars: documentation of collections, loan procedures, collections storage, museum security, disaster preparedness, traveling exhibitions and customs, insurance, and development of collections management policies.

M S 795 NAGPRA for Museum Registrars and Curators (Units: 2)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status and consent of instructor.

For museum registrars and curators, analysis of legal compliance and practical implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 800 Museum Management, Law, and Ethics (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate level status.

Legal issues of concern to museum professionals and artists; laws governing acquisition of art objects, authentication, taxes, liability, censorship, artists' rights, copyright, museum organization, and labor relations. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 810 Museums in the Digital Age (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate standing or consent of instructor.

Use and role of digital media and information technology in museums. Development of practical and theoretical skill set for the management of digital assets for exhibit development, education, public relations and marketing, collections preservation, and digitally-mediated outreach.

M S 811 Digital Preservation for Museums and Cultural Heritage Institutions (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate standing or consent of instructor.

Survey and applied practicum of digital technologies used in museums and cultural heritage institutions. Exploration of the relationship between computation and the humanities; and issues facing cultural institutions in the 21st century, such as open source programs, the organization and preservation of existing collections, and real-world examples in the field of digital cultural management. (Plus-minus letter grade only)

M S 823 Curation and Cinema (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Admission to the Cinema M.A. or M.F.A. program, or the Museum Studies M.A. program.

Examination of curatorial practice and the role of curators in contemporary culture; the relation between moving images and contemporary art practices; projection, display and exhibition of time-based media in and beyond film events and art institutions. (Plus-minus letter grading only.)
(This course is offered as CINE 823 and M S 823. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)

M S 830 Museum Governance (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status or consent of instructor.

Analysis of governance in museums, including: trusteeship, board issues, roles of director and senior management, governance conflicts, mission statements, use of advisory committees and support groups, collections issues, planning, and recent controversies. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 840 Museums and Cultural Property (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status or consent of instructor.

Examination of legal and ethical issues concerning cultural property in museums: museum acquisition policies; international art/antiquities trade; auction houses; WWII-era looting; repatriation; ownership dispute resolution; relationships with descendant communities. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 845 Art Law (Units: 2)

Prerequisite: Museum Studies major or consent of instructor.

Artists' expressive, economic, and moral rights; intellectual property issues; title and theft; art merchants and authenticity; museum acquisitions; IRS regulations pertaining to museums contracts and documentation in museums.

M S 850 Museum Volunteer Managment and Membership (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate standing or consent of instructor.

Development and management of volunteer and membership programs for museums and heritage organizations. Volunteer recruitment/retention, sound practices for producing and managing membership programs, and training and daily volunteer operations in the museum and heritage environment.

M S 860 Fundraising in Museums (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status or consent of instructor.

Examination of fundraising in museums, budget building, budget cycle, legal and tax issues of fundraising, as well as specific fundraising methods (gifts, planned giving, bequests, endowments, e-commerce, grants, contracts). (Plus-minus letter grade only.)

M S 865 Museums beyond ADA: Universal Access & Museopathy (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status and consent of instructor.

Strategies for successful incorporation of universal access and universal design principles to museum operations. Latest research on new uses for museum collections to improve health and social engagement (museopathy), for visitors and confined populations with Alzheimer's, autism, cancer, sensory loss.

M S 870 Museum Audiences, Visitors, and Communities (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate status and consent of instructor.

Analysis of museum visitors (visitor studies) and non-visitors (audience research) in the context of museum communities. Methodology and applications of visitor/audience research to improve museum operations and exhibitions.

M S 875 Public Relations and Marketing for Museums (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Classified graduate standing and consent of instructor.

Development of and best practices in strategic marketing, earned income operations, and public relations for museums and heritage organizations.

M S 880 Museum Internship (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: M S 700 and classified graduate status in Museum Studies.

Practicum in collections management, exhibition design, fundraising management, publishing, curation, educational programming, conservation under the supervision of a professional museum employee and SF State instructor. May be repeated for a total of 6 units.

M S 885 Professional Conferences and Workshops (Units: 1-3)

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Attendance, participation, and evaluation at professional conferences, workshops, or short courses offered by museums, professional associations, or other recognized institutions. Prior approval by Museum Studies Program is mandatory. May be repeated for a total of 3 units. (CR/NC grading only.)

M S 888 Project Management for Museums (Units: 1-2)

Prerequisites: MS Majors only. Prior enrollment in M S 720, M S 850, or instructor consent.

Under faculty guidance, development, logistics, budgeting, and time management for museum exhibits, catalogue publishing, conferences/sessions for museum professionals, or special events for schools/general public. May be repeated for a total of 3 units for the degree credit.

M S 894 Creative Work Project (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor and approval of Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) and Culminating Experience (CE) forms by Graduate Studies.

Original creative work project which must be developed with the approval of the Museum Studies program. ATC and Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement forms must be approved by the Graduate Division before registration. (CR/NC; RP grading only.)

M S 897 Directed Thesis Advising and Support (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

Directed advising and support for students writing theses or creative works. May be taken before enrollment in M S 894 or M S 898. Once students have taken M S 894 or M S 898 they must take M S 897 every Spring semester until they finish the degree. (CR/NC grading only)

M S 898 Master's Thesis (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor; approval of Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) and Culminating Experience (CE) forms by Graduate Studies; and recommendation of major adviser. ATC and Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement forms must be approved by the Graduate Division before registration. (CR/NC grading only.)