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Museum Operations


Units: 6


Museums share a responsibility for preserving, interpreting, and presenting arts, culture, history, and heritage for the benefit of the public and society. Yet, each museum has its own unique set of complications, all of which must be managed by a team of stakeholders dedicated to fulfilling the museum’s mission, mandate, and goals. In this course, students will gain an understanding of what a museum is and how it is managed by exploring the use of standards and best practices in governance, collections stewardship, education and interpretation, financial stability, and facilities. In addition, special case studies will address complexities in the museum field today including topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion in museum leadership, issues in collections ethics, visitor motivation and engagement, toxic philanthropy, and risk management. A range of museum types will be highlighted including art museums, natural history museums, children’s museums, science centers, craft centers, and others. Course work will require students to make connections between recommendations, practice, and implementation. Students will develop insight into the many factors inherent in running a museum in the 21st century.

Learning Outcomes

Skills and knowledge gained through this course will be assessed through participation in discussions and course-related assignments. Upon the successful conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate museum types and functional operations and indicate how core standards, best practices, and clear policies are key components to effective museum management.
  2. Examine trends and discuss ethical issues in museum management regarding governance, collections, visitor engagement, financial sustainability, facilities, and risk management.
  3. Apply critical thinking skills and propose solutions to museum operational challenges.

Prerequisites Description

93-703 Arts Enterprises: Management and Structures. Museum Operations is designed for second year Master of Arts Management students as a part of a content bin for their Arts Enterprises Models Requirement. Other students interested in taking this course who have prior knowledge or management experience may enroll with instructor's permission.