Museum Studies

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The museum studies program is designed to help students explore the theory and practice of museums in the contemporary world, with emphasis on the stewardship of collections and the creation of exhibits, interpretive programs, and educational outreach services. Museology is inherently multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary, benefiting from knowledge and experience in the fine arts, sciences, history, anthropology, education, computer science, design, marketing, finance, and other fields. The museum world is richly varied: in addition to the familiar museum categories of art, history, natural history, technology and science museums, there are many similar institutions including national and state parks, zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, and children’s museums. The program’s offerings will help prepare students for their future understanding of and contribution to the realm of museums.

The program is a cross-disciplinary study area with course offerings across several disciplines. The required core course, “Introduction to Museum Studies” (MUST 200), is offered each fall. Formal declaration of intent to complete the program’s requirements must be preceded by completion of the core course or by consent of the program coordinator. Students are advised to declare their participation and plan their program’s make-up in consultation with the program coordinator as early as possible but no later than by the beginning of the first semester of the senior year.


To complete a minor in the museum studies program, students must satisfy the following requirements designed to acquire the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience intended for the program.

  1. General College Requirements (see “Curriculum” section).
  2. All requirements of the chosen major field.
  3. One required four-credit, 200-level course, “Introduction to Museum Studies” (MUST 200), offered annually.
  4. At least 12 hours of appropriate electives, eight of which need to be upper-division, selected from at least two of three primary fields of art history, anthropology, history, or museum studies.
  5. Completion of a single eight-credit internship in a museum-related area of study; upon approval of the program coordinator, two four-credit internships may be substituted.

Primary Fields: (at least eight hours upper-division electives from this partial list; a complete list of approved current offerings will appear in the online “Schedule of Classes”).

Secondary Fields: none specified, but a wide variety of disciplines furnish appropriate courses for individual programs, depending on the goals of the participant.

Additional appropriate courses at all levels in such disciplines as history, anthropology, art history, art, computer science, biology, chemistry, education, geology, geography, religious studies, etc., which support an individual’s program goals will be selected in consultation with the program coordinator. Each year the participating program faculty will designate any new or experimental courses, topical courses, field trip sequences, or special offerings that will satisfy elective requirements. A complete list of these will appear in the online “Schedule of Classes.”

As part of their participation in museum studies, students undertake an eight-credit internship. Possible internship locations include the Boyden Gallery and Teaching Collection, Historic St. Mary’s City, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Sotterley Plantation, Calvert Marine Museum, St. Mary’s County museums, and other nearby cultural institutions.

Students may pursue their St. Mary’s Project in museum studies with the permission of their major department and with a museum studies faculty member serving as mentor or co-mentor. St. Mary’s Project credit (eight hours) does not apply toward fulfillment of the curriculum requirements of the program.


MUST 200. Introduction to Museum Studies (4F)

This course considers museums—their history, social context, and their challenges—in the 21st century. The format is seminar-style, based on case studies, field trips, readings, and a class project. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course examines the roles that a broad range of museum types play in society: the diversity of collections, exhibitions, and interpretation techniques; management and marketing challenges; visitor behavior and learning; virtual museums; and museum ethics, law, and controversies. This course fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement in Arts.

MUST 301. Interpreting History to the Public (4F)

This course explores the theory and method of public history, museum education and interpretation in general with Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) as a model where appropriate. The course combines discussion, presentations, and readings with a practicum at the HSMC living history sites. Through the practicum, students develop practical skills used to design, implement, and evaluation programs in history museums.

MUST 390. Topics in Museum Studies

This course provides analysis of substantive issues in museum studies. Topics will vary each semester the course is offered and reflect current interests of students and the instructor. May be repeated for credit if the topic is not duplicated. For a description of each course, see the current online “Schedule of Classes.”

MUST 398, 498, Museum Studies Internship (8E)

The internship provides direct hands-on and academic experience in a museum environment selected by the student, approved by the program coordinator, mentored by a member of the museum studies steering committee, and formalized in a learning contract. The internship may be undertaken in a nearby institution, but further afield and abroad as well.