Topics in MS: Blockbusters and Building Booms: Spectacle and Uncertainty (MSMS-GA 3330-004) Basilio. 4 Points.
In the midst of the current crisis, it is difficult to imagine the return of exhibitions with attendance in the hundreds of thousands and the inauguration of spectacular new or renovated buildings. Predictions that up to 1/3 of museums in the US may close and 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, raise 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, as well as the art market. 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, will be examined as part of broader initiatives such as re-branding and audience development also 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 demands for greater diversity, inclusion, and equitable working conditions. Also relevant are calls for accountability from museum leadership including trustees in light of revelations about toxic philanthropy. 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 Brooklyn Museum, we will also discuss museum expansion projects abroad, such as MALBA in Buenos Aires, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, or the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi.
Museum Management, (MSMS-GA 1502-001) Warwick. 4 points.
Overview of management, finance, and administration for those aspiring to managerial and supervisory positions in museums. Topics covered include organizational structure and the roles and relationships of museum departments; operational issues, including security and disaster planning; museum accounting and finance, including operating and capital expense budgeting; leadership and strategic planning; and legal and ethical issues facing museums.
Research Seminar, (MSMS-GA 3991-001) Ayers. 2 points.
Students conduct research combining their academic and professional interests, using appropriate methodology. They formulate a topic, prepare an annotated bibliography, and write the qualifying paper based on their research. M.A. students also develop their thesis proposal.
Topics in MS: Critical Collections: On The Ethics and Identities of Things, (MSMS-GA 3330-002) Franz. 4 points.
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 spirits, radioactive land, 3D printed artefacts, 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 several 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.
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.
Museum Career Lab, (MSMS-GA 3990-002) Starr. 2 points.
This course scaffolds ways to navigate the museum field as an emerging professional requires self-advocacy, communication, and an adept understanding of how to leverage a personal network as a pathway towards career opportunities. Museum Career Lab is a space for cultivating these skills while 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 complete exercises that cover the core fundamentals of being “at work” in the museum. The goal of this course is to prepare students for a meaningful museum career after graduation.
Topics in MS: Ethical Frameworks for Museum Work, (MSMS-GA 3330-003) Lima. 4 points.
The moral principles, values, and standards that Museums adopt play a significant role in institutional practices. This course explores the origins of museum ethics, universal standards, legal and cultural implications, as well as the impact that these practices make on audiences, collections, and staff. Students will consider how museums develop codes of ethics and the processes through which those codes succeed or fail to be implemented in practice beyond institutional mission statements. Ethical frameworks will be explored through historic and contemporary texts as well as through case studies. Students will examine the distinctions between frameworks that elicit public confidence and those that elicit distrust. This class will also explore widely adopted shifts in ethical frameworks that have changed with popular attitudes throughout time. In final projects, students will conduct independent research on specific topics such as object acquisition, cultural narratives and depictions in exhibitions, and internal professional practices.
Topics in MS: Digital Frictions, (MSMS-GA 3330-001) Flouty. 4 points.
This class examines the potential for museums to embrace multimodal ways to make experiences and collections accessible through digital design and new technologies. Several classes will be 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. 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.
Conservation and Collections Management, (MSMS-GA 2222-001) Bruno & Godfrey. 4 points.
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.
Exhibition Planning and Design, (MSMS-GA 3332-001) Kerrigan. 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, audiovisual 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.
Research in Museum Studies, (MSMS-GA 3915-001) Staff. 1-4 points.
Independent research on a topic determined in consultation with the program director.
Internship, (MSMS-GA 3990-01) Lima. 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.