Issues in Museums: Museums, Universities, and University Museums
Universities have played a pivotal role in the history of museums in the United States since their earliest days. Regarded in the mid-nineteenth century as among the essential educational materials that universities made available to their students, university collections of all varieties grew in tandem with many of the nation's most prestigious higher education institutions, including the University of Michigan. Since those foundational moments, US universities have become one of the most, if not the most, important site for critically examining and constantly improving the work that museums do to interpret and care for their collections and, most importantly, educate their publics.
This course uses the great number of collections and museums that we enjoy at the University of Michigan to examine the history of museums in the US, to look at the varieties of museums and collections that make up the museum landscape today, and to learn about the ways that academics are shaping museum practice and theory. Special emphasis will be placed on closely examining the ways that UM museums interact with the academic community and each other to do the work of education, curating, collection management, and administration. Readings will consider the history and the present-day literature on museum practice and theory. Projects will focus on critical study and comparison of the practices of the various museums on campus.
This course can be taken for graduate credit. Graduate students will be expected to produce a more substantial final project.