Topics in Museum Studies: Digital Frictions: Museum Accessibility and Digital Design
MSMS-GA 3330-001, Class # 10216 (4 Points)
Monday, 1:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
This class examines the potential for museums to embrace multimodal ways to make experiences and collections accessible through digital design and new technologies. Students will learn about accessible alternative formats, sonification, haptic technologies, 3D touch objects, and the creation of visual descriptions supported by open-source, cloud-hosted toolkits. At least one class will be co-facilitated at one of two NYU Maker Spaces. We will examine both strategies and failures employed by museums to design for individuals with diverse motor, cognitive, sensory, and behavior-emotional disabilities. After developing a project idea and design brief in groups, students will partner with Computer Science undergraduate students to build and test their own digital prototypes.
Museums and Political Conflict
MSMS-GA 2226-001, Class # 10229 (4 Points)
Monday, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
In contemporary Museum Studies, it is often said that museums are inherently political institutions. But how do politics actually happen in museums? What has "politics" meant for key exhibitions and collections and what avenues of political theory emerge from the museum in general? In this seminar, we will move beyond the general to examine how specific political concepts took shape in historic exhibitions and museum practices from the 1930s to the present. As such, our challenge will be twofold. On the one hand, we will consider how political movements have used the museums as an implement for advancing power and influence. On the other hand, we will consider how museum practices have "taken up" various kinds of politics: how museum objects and officials have engaged and advocated the agendas and outcomes of political parties, governments, policies, revolutions, and elections. Case studies will include: Degenerate Art (1937), Paris World Exhibition (1937), Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads" (1934), The Guggenheim Museum (1959), Yad Vashem (1965), Harlem on my Mind (1969), The Perfect Moment (1990), The Last Act (1994), The Jewish Museum of Bologna (1998), Sensation (1999), The Apartheid Museum (2001), Holocaust Cartoons (2006), among others. Through these case studies, students will examine the museum's role in the public sphere and the process whereby exhibitions contribute to-- or undermined--key aspects of deliberative democracy.
Museum Career Lab
MSMS-GA 3990-002, Class # 10226 (2 Points)
Monday, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Navigating the museum field as an emerging professional requires self-advocacy, communication, and an adept understanding of how to leverage a personal network and create a personal brand as a pathway towards career opportunities. Museum Career Lab is a space for cultivating these skills and having honest conversations about challenges we may experience as we develop in our work. Students will learn strategies for communicating in a variety of potentially complicated situations, establish professional goals, and will discuss core concepts involved in the practice of being “at work” in museums including institutional culture, politics and processes. Museum Career Lab, like the practice of museums, is emerging and evolving in real-time as the field responds to a changing landscape and is designed to meet the needs of students in the lab.
Topics in Museum Studies: Museum Activism
MSMS-GA 3330-004, Class # 10219 (4 Points)
Tuesday, 9:15 a.m. - 12.15 p.m.
“Museum Activism” explores the relation between museums and activism by positioning cultural institutions as sites of constant change, negotiation, and struggle. Recognizing that museum practice emerges out of distinct social and political contexts, this course follows critical social movements – such as labor and racial and climate justice – as they relate to museums and ultimately shape museum practice. Focusing on various cases of advocacy, protest, and museum reform since the early twentieth century, the course demonstrates that critical and socially engaged practice is not new, but foundational to the modern museum. We will pursue such questions as: what is “museum activism” and what forms (grassroots, institutional, academic) can it take? How have communities used museums and their practices to push for social change? And how have artists, activists, and cultural workers disrupted cultural institutions and their processes?
Topics in Museum Studies: Collecting and Exhibiting Latin American and Latinx Art in the US
MSMS-GA 3330-005, Class # 10220 (4 Points)
Tuesday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Museums throughout the US have recently taken an interest in Latin American and, to a lesser extent, Latinx art, including new museum appointments of curators specializing in this area. While the field slowly evolves, a shared understanding of past efforts and controversies is necessary to move forward. The class will be organized chronologically, beginning in the 1930s with discussion of case studies that outline landmark exhibitions and collecting. Class participants are also encouraged to bring in examples of interest to them to share with the class. The impact of political events such as the Good Neighbor Policy, the Cold War, and the Culture Wars will be integral to discussions. Other important points of reference will be the 1980s-1990s debates about multiculturalism that prefigure current events today. Throughout the course, consideration of African American and Asian American art case studies will be used in class sessions to compare the representation of artists in museums.
Readings will include archival material, exhibition catalog essays, academic books and articles, and exhibition reviews. Students will have a choice of final assignments. In addition to a final presentation (length depends on the number of people in the class), students may choose to write a short 10–15-page paper on a case study; draft an exhibition or acquisition proposal for a museum; or select another creative project to be discussed with the professor.
Strategies for the 21st Century Museum: Money and Power
MSMS-GA 2221-001, Class # 10214 (4 Points)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
In the 21st century, museums worldwide need creative fundraising to survive. This course provides a comprehensive overview of museum fundraising practices and an introduction to the skills and processes necessary for effective fundraising. Focusing on the funding environment in the USA – but referencing other examples and models globally – topics covered include an overview of sources of funding and types of fundraising, such as board support, capital campaigns, planned giving, and benefit events, as well as a survey of procedures for identifying available funds. Invited guests from a range of museum environments will discuss examples of successful fundraising. Class discussions address how museum professionals navigate governance issues that arise as they work to sustain their museum. In this course, students complete various examples of fundraising approaches, including individual solicitations and grant requests, and a comprehensive fundraising strategy for a museum project of their choice.
Topics in Museum Studies:Religion, Magic, Science, & the Museum
MSMS-GA 3330-002, Class # 10217 (4 Points) (Cross-listed with Religion)
Marisa Karyl Franz
Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
This course looks at museums and their collections of religious, spiritual, scientific, and magical materials. Throughout, we are asked to consider how these categories are used within museums to create boundaries, invite engagement, and reflect colonial legacies of knowledge production. We will explore different areas of museum practice including collections, conservation, cataloging, and curation. Students will have the opportunity to read works from religious studies and anthropology to build up an intellectual history of how and why we name certain things magical or religious, sacred or scientific, icons or idols. The course will look at how museums deal with ritual practices, hauntings, and immortality. Throughout, we will consider a diverse selection of case studies to explore how different museums and cultural sites are caring for religious, spiritual, and magical materials and what is at stake in our identifications of what these things are. We will visit museums, heritage sites, and religious institutions to see how different sites engage with these materials.
Topics in Museum Studies: Museums and Abolition: Collective Visioning for Safer Futures
(MSMS-GA 3330-003, Class # 10218 (4 Points)
Wednesday, 1:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Over the past decade, the field has witnessed an increase of museums transforming into sites of abolitionary visioning. Standout exhibitions, programs, and professional practices have shifted to center both carceral structures and systems of oppression. This course explores the emergence of a new cultural ecosystem in contemporary exhibitions and museum engagements that make direct impact on the communities they aim to interpret. Current texts by abolitionist activists and thought leaders now drive new approaches to working in Museums and cultural spaces as sites of allyship, sanctuary, and liberatory praxis. Through the use of abolitionist theory on mass incarceration, policing, systems of power, environmental violence, mutual aid, and liberation movements, students will explore new praxis and approaches to museum work. While developing an understanding of the relationship between museums and carceral consciousness, this course focuses on case studies from the Metropolitan Museum, the New Museum, MoMA PS1, Brooklyn Museum, and more. In final projects, students will present their take on the role of museum responsibility and systemic change.
Museum and the Law
MSMS-GA 2220-001, Class # 10213 (4 Points)
Wednesday, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Legal issues pervade so many aspects of the world of museums. The law can both constrain and enable the behavior of museum staff, administration, and others who work with these cultural organizations. Therefore, it is difficult to work in, for and with museums without some training in or familiarity with the law. In this course, we will examine how museums are affected by a variety of legal regulations, including cultural heritage legislation, intellectual property issues, such as copyright, trademark and moral rights, first amendment and censorship claims, work-place hazards, contracts, and nonprofit and tax laws, such as valuation, charitable transfers, payments in lieu of taxes and the unrelated business income tax. Readings will consist of case law and secondary sources detailing the most pressing legal issues facing different types of museums, and group discussions will be supplemented by mock case studies and negotiation exercises.
Museum Collections and Exhibitions
MSMS-GA 1501-001, Class # 10212 (4 Points)
Ramona Bannayan and Galloway
Thursday, 9:15 a.m. - 12.15 p.m.
An introduction to collection and exhibition management procedures and policies, this seminar will consider issues involved in balancing day-to-day logistical and legal issues alongside the urgent challenges facing museums today. The class combines lectures, classroom discussion, team exercises, and guest speakers active in the museum world. Topics covered include many core functions of museum practice from mission statements, collection policies, departmental relationships, documentation, assessment, stewardship, sustainability, storage, exhibition management, working with makers, community, timelines and budgeting.
Topics in Museum Studies: Critical Collections: On the Ethics and Identities of Things
MSMS-GA 3330-006, Class # 10221 (4 Points)
Marisa Karyl Franz
Thursday, 1:45 p.m. - 4.45 p.m.
Museum collections are often filled with objects, specimens, artworks, and material culture. However, the nature of these things can challenge us as museum professionals to shift our practice, our understanding, and our relationship with the material things around us. This class asks us to consider the diversity of materials in museum collections to destabilize our notions of what things are and how we relate to them. This class will consider a number of different kinds of things, likely including, but not limited to living beings, radioactive land, 3D printed artifacts, decaying matter, and everyday consumer goods from a variety of museum collections and heritage sites around the world to address issues of care, classification, access, accountability, and value. The readings will draw from Indigenous and non-Indigenous ontologies (philosophies of being and existence) as well as decolonial and postcolonial scholarship to consider alternative approaches to the material and natural world and how our practice can be informed and challenged by them. The class will have several visits to museums and exhibitions in the city and guest lectures throughout the semester. Students will have the opportunity to pursue their own research interests in a final paper or project and are encouraged to consider both conceptual and practical topics in their work.
Conservation and Collections Management
MSMS-GA 2222-001, Class # 10215 (4 Points)
Friday, 9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
As an introduction to museum conservation and collections management, this seminar combines readings, discussions, research, field trips, and practical exercises to provide an understanding of the material concerns and underlying values that drive collections care decisions. It is designed to give students the tools to think critically about collections management and conservation processes. The seminar covers many core functions of museum practice, from acquisition, exhibition, and storage to emergency planning and response. It includes topics in conservation such as examination, conservation science and technical art history as well as preventive conservation measures to manage the museum environment. The seminar also addresses legal and ethical considerations in museum stewardship. Course readings cover the historical and philosophical values that shape the field of conservation, and technical information needed to make conservation and collections management decisions. Students perform readings, discussion, practical and theoretical exercises, short writing assignments and conduct research leading to a term paper.
Topics in Museum Studies: Curating from Archives
MSMS-GA 3330-006, Class # 10222 (4 Points)
Friday, 9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Can archival study be liberatory? This course explores the Downtown Collection archives held at NYU’s Bobst Library and is designed to analyze primary source materials from the 1960s-1990s, an iconic period in New York’s arts scene. The course will focus on the collaborative, multidisciplinary, and non-hierarchical nature of the downtown arts scene, shedding light on the way that artists and cultural producers radically challenged and changed art and museum practices through their trailblazing alterity.
The course will focus on the marginalized voices, practices, and histories that helped establish New York City as one of the most experimental, dynamic, and inclusive cities in the world. The work of the class will culminate in a co-curated exhibition of archival material that will be on show at the Kimmel Center Windows. Students will actively participate in visits to the archive to understand and contribute to the exhibition design process, interpretive material development, object labels, and overarching narrative of the culminating exhibition.
Exhibition Planning and Design
MSMS-GA 3332-001, Class # 10223 (4 Points)
Friday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
This course focuses on the planning, development, and design of permanent, temporary, and traveling exhibitions. It is a participatory class where students learn basic exhibition interpretation and design techniques including goal setting and scriptwriting, spatial layouts and the use of graphics, colors and materials, audiovisuals and lighting, and fabrication and installation methods. Students gain insight into exhibition planning and the roles played by various museum professionals at different stages of development. There are visits with designers and planners to discuss their work and to museums and other venues to analyze exhibition design in the field. Individual student projects provide hands-on experience.
MSMS-GA 3990-001, Class # 10225 (2 Points)
M.A. and Advanced Certificate students spend a minimum of 200 hours over one or more semesters in a project-oriented internship at a museum or other suitable institution. Students nearing completion of course prerequisites (MSMS-GA 1500, MSMS-GA 1501, and MSMS-GA 1502) must schedule a planning meeting with the Program's Internship Coordinator. A daily log, evaluations, and progress report are required. Students must earn a grade of B or better to receive the M.A. or Advanced Certificate. Further information is available in the Internship Guidelines Packet.
Research in Museum Studies
MSMS-GA 3991-001, Class # 10224 (1-4 Points)
Independent research on a topic determined in consultation with the program director.
Approaches to Public History
MSMS-GA 1757-001, Class # 10227 (4 Points)
Tuesday, 4:55 p.m. - 7:35 p.m.