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A Critical Eye on Museum Studies

What’s the status of Museum Studies? The answer is complex, nuanced, and becoming increasingly charged. Museum professionals and enthusiasts seeking a degree have their choice of programs. But what academic standards and methods of accountability are in place? What is the balance between theory and practice? Are there too many programs? Not enough jobs? Are graduates prepared to forge a new vision of museum relevancy? We all need these answers, so join in this critical conversation.

Richard Toon, PhD, Associate Research Professor, Director Museums and Museum Studies, Arizona State University
Adrienne McGraw, Museum Studies Program Chair, John F. Kennedy University
Adrien Mooney, Registrar, Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Terri Leong, Staffing Administrator, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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A Critical Eye on Museum Studies

  1. 1. A Critical Eye on Museum Studies WMA October 2014
  2. 2. Balance between theory and practice in museum studies program Most important aspects of graduate degree
  3. 3. In the long run, has your degree aided you on your path to working in a museum? 85% 15% Given the opportunity, would you do 25% this degree again? 75%
  4. 4. • “I would pursue my degree again because I have enjoyed solid employment because of it. With that said, it is difficult to see how my degree distinguishes me any longer. The Bay Area now has three Museum Studies programs. While a MA is necessary to get your foot in the door, my internships and contracting work is what makes my resume stand out. I am not sure if I would have had the opportunities without the guise of pursing my degree. So, the MA is necessary, but tricky.” • “If I was starting out today I don't think I would because the market seems to be oversaturated and now knowing that the pay doesn't match the cost of a degree at many schools, I would probably volunteer and do online courses if necessary. This isn't a reflection on the value of what I learned. My program was great and I have used everything I learned but I don't know if I would pursue a career in museums at all given the popularity of museum studies program and the scarcity of jobs.” • “In today's market, one must simply have a MA in order to be considered for some unpaid internships or entry level part-time positions. This is by no means sustainable; what student can afford to take a low paying or non-paying position when there are student loans to pay back? I think the field is eliminating very qualified and interesting candidates by requiring applicants to have an MA degree in order to be considered for some of these positions. The pool of candidates for museum jobs will slowly but surely become more and more self-selecting because of the nature of current hiring practices and new programs. “
  5. 5. Dr. Sean Fitzpatrick, John F. Kennedy University
  6. 6. Results from the concept mapping research project showing the clusters of responses to the question: What skills and attributes do museum professionals need to possess to successfully work in the 21st Century museum? Dr. Sean Fitzpatrick, John F. Kennedy University
  7. 7. Learning Outcomes JFK University Museum Studies Program 1. Research 2.Community Engagement 3. Business Management Literacy 4. Communication Capacity 5. Agency
  8. 8. Contacts Terri Leong University of California, Berkeley terri.leong@berkeley.edu Adrienne McGraw John F Kennedy University amcgraw@jfku.edu Adrien Mooney Utah Museum of Fine Arts adrien.mooney@umfa.utah.edu Richard Toon, PhD Museums and Museum Studies Arizona State University richard.toon@asu.edu