Heritage, Memory and Negotiating Temporalities (MSMS-GA 2229) Anderson. 4 points.
What is heritage, how is it produced and to what extent does it (re)arrange relationships between time, memory and identity? How do some heritages come to be memorialized and institutionalized and others excluded and rendered peripheral? This seminar will cover the historical development of the concept of heritage as well as exploring the genesis of international heritage administration, charters, conventions, and national heritage laws. It will highlight emerging trends and practices including exploring the concept of “social memory” and contrast it with the more formalized techniques of heritage didactics and curation. We will explore the increasing interest in “bottom-up” heritage programming that directly involves the general public in the formulation, collection, and public presentation of historical themes and subjects as an ongoing social activity. Case studies from different regions and social contexts will be explored: “conflicted heritage,” “minority heritage,” “indigenous heritage,” “diasporic heritage,” “sites of conscience,” long-term community planning and involvement in “eco-museums”, the relationship between heritage, development and tourism and public heritage interpretation centers. Students will be asked to address specific problems in sites or organizations presented during the course and will formulate socio-interpretive assessments of projects or research of their choosing in the U.S. or abroad.
Museum Management MSMS-GA (MSMS 1502.001) Warwick. 4 points.
This course provides an overview of management, finance, and administration for those aspiring to managerial and supervisory positions in museums. Topics to be covered include mission; leadership and strategic planning; governance and institutional policy; organizational structure and the roles and relationships of museum departments; operational issues, including security and disaster planning; museum finance, including operating and capital expense budgeting; fundraising; and marketing and branding. Case studies taken from New York City museums will be analyzed, and all topics will be placed in the context of how museum staff best deliver programs, and serve their public communities most effectively.
Conservation and Collections Management (MSMS-GA 2222.001) Bruno and Godfrey. 4 points
As an introduction to museum conservation and collections management, this seminar combines classroom discussion and museum visits 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 disaster preparation and recovery. It includes preventive conservation measures to manage the museum environment and technical research to date and authenticate museum objects. The seminar also addresses concerns of living artists, indigenous groups and others with claims to the disposition and care of cultural materials. 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 condition assessments, and conduct research leading to short writing assignments and a term paper.
Museums and the Law (MSMS-GA 2220-001) Gleason. 4 points.
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.
Art Exhibition History after 1960 (MSMS-GA 2227.001) Altshuler. 4 points.
Focusing on group exhibitions after 1960, this seminar will explore the history of exhibitions and various approaches to the study of exhibition history. Major developments of this period include the growth of independent curating and new curatorial strategies, an increasing focus on thematic exhibitions, the expansion of biennials outside the Euro-American centers, and the use of discursive forms. Among the exhibitions that we will discuss are artist-curated exhibitions such as DYLABY and 9 at Leo Castelli, exhibitions of Minimalism and Post-Minimalism including Primary Structures and Eccentric Abstraction, conceptualist exhibitions organized by Seth Siegelaub, Germano Celant’s Arte Povera + Azioni Povere, Harald Szeeemann’s When Attitudes Become Form and Documenta 5, collaborative exhibitions of the 1980s organized by Colab and Group Material, Magiciens de la Terre, the 1993 Whitney Biennial, iterations of the Havana, Gwangju, Johannesburg, and Sao Paolo biennials, Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11, and exhibitions that intersect with political movements including Tucuman Arde, The Bulldozer Exhibition, and China/Avant-Garde.
Students will give two short presentations as well as a longer presentation of their research on a particular exhibition or series of exhibitions, and submit a final paper on this research topic along with a file of exhibition documentation.
Museums and Political Conflict (MSMS-GA 2226.001) Feldman. 4 points.
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.
Exhibition, Planning and Design (MSMS-GA 3332.001) Meister. 4 points.
This course focuses on the planning, development and design of exhibitions, permanent, temporary and traveling. It is a participatory class where students learn basic exhibition design techniques, including spatial layouts and the use of graphics, audio-visual aids, lighting, colors, materials, and fabrication methods. Students gain insight into exhibition planning and development and the roles played by various museum professionals. There are visits to designers to discuss their work and to museums and other venues to analyze exhibition design techniques. Individual student projects provide hands-on experience.
TOPICS IN MUSEUM STUDIES
Topics in Museum Studies: Digital Frictions-Museum Accessibility and Digital Design. (MSMS-GA 3330.001) Flouty. 4 points
This class examines the potential for museums to embrace multi-modal ways to make experiences and collections accessible through digital design and new technologies in a touch-free, post-COVID world. Several classes will co-facilitated with NYU’s Ability Lab, an interdisciplinary research space dedicated to the intersection between disability and technology located at NYU’s Tandon campus, along with Computer Science students from Courant to build working digital prototypes. Students will learn about accessible alternative formats, sonification, haptic technologies, and the creation of visual descriptions supported by open-source, cloud-hosted toolkits. We will also examine both strategies and failures employed by museums to design for individuals with diverse motor, cognitive, sensory, and behavior-emotional abilities.
This is a project-based class. Students will create a prototype for the design and implementation of a selected museum object that is accessible beyond the bounded regions of a visual field and/or direct contact. Virtual museum visits to the Intrepid Museum and virtual lecturers with museum access professionals from across the nation, as well as studio visits with interactive designers based in New York City, will complement the course.
Topics in Museum Studies: Death, Decay, and Destruction: Dark Tourism and Sites of Memory. (MSMS-GA 3330.002) Franz. 4 points
This course looks at how we care for ends and endings to consider the creative and intellectual space of impermanence within sites of preservation. We will consider a wide variety of case studies including ruins that are preserved as decaying sites, ghosts who haunt historic house museums, histories of incarceration narrated through prison museums, and the tourism industry around sites of destruction such as Chernobyl. As a class, we will engage with theories of dark tourism, nostalgia, moral and ethical philosophy, and existential threats to our world. While these are challenging topics, we will be exploring the productive possibilities of these concepts and the place of death, decay, and destruction within our philosophical and cultural traditions.
This class will at times deal in some difficult and potentially triggering topics including genocide, racism, war, death, and loss.
Topics in Museum Studies: Blockbusters and Building Booms: Spectacle and Uncertainty. (MSMS-GA 3330.005). Basilio. 4 points.
In the midst of the current crisis, it is difficult to imagine the return of museum attendance in the hundreds of thousands and the inauguration of spectacular new or renovated buildings. The dramatic shift in the American Association of Museum Directors’ deaccessioning policy, allowing museums to sell works and use the proceeds for expenses other than purchases for the collection, raises questions about priorities and sustainability. This course will analyze the historical development of the modern blockbuster exhibition, beginning with Thomas Hoving’s programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1970s. We will discuss case studies of landmark exhibitions, their critical reception, and debates regarding their effect on museum practice, management, curators’ roles, scholarship, and ethics. Critics have compared the boom in such exhibitions during the 1980s-2000s to the proliferation of new or expanded museum buildings. Such architectural projects, notably the Guggenheim Bilbao, may be examined as part of broader initiatives such as re-branding and audience development that have also been linked to the blockbuster phenomenon. We will also look at newer formulas for the blockbuster genre, such as fashion design exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and exhibitions drawing on collections presented as blockbusters or as more sustainable alternatives to them. Critiques of new museum building projects are now part of important broader calls for greater diversity, inclusion, and equitable working conditions as well as accountability for museum leadership including trustees. What can we learn from the past turn to museum building projects and attention to drawing mass audiences? Although the case studies will primarily include museums in the US, such as The Museum of Modern Art or the Barnes Foundation, museum expansion projects abroad, such as the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, or the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, will be discussed.
Topics in Museum Studies: (Un)Natural History: Constructing and Displaying the Environment in Colonial Collections and Museums. (MSMS-GA 3330.006) Ayers. 4 points.
PENETRATED jungles, “Mother Nature,” primitive forests, quests to “preserve” the redwoods, and silenced and buried cosmologies and worldviews—for hundreds of years, the environment has been granted an anthropomorphized body along gendered, sexualized, and racialized terms, rendering its products extractible while forming “specimens” out of living beings. This class traces shifting conceptualizations of nature from the eighteenth century to the present, focusing on how naturalists and scientists have described, collected, and displayed “new” environments in building extractive natural history museums along colonial lines. Ranging from Linnaean systems of classification to eugenic constructions of “wilderness” and from studies of evolution and degeneration to post-nuclear landscapes in the Anthropocene, we will discuss how ideas about race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability have been written onto nature, and how these social categories have been variously defined as “natural” and “unnatural” throughout history. Readings across multiple disciplines will inform conversations about knowledge production, possession and dispossession, and classificatory and preservational impulses with the goal of interrogating how these power structures have produced archival silences that enact long-lasting violence on the environment and on human voices and bodies.
Research in Museum Studies (MSMS-GA 3915.001) 1-4 points.
Independent research on a topic determined in consultation with the program director.
Internship (MSMS-GA 3990) Required of all MA and Advanced Certificate candidates. Flouty. 2 points.
M.A. and Advanced Certificate students spend a minimum of 300 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.