Museum Studies certificate to be offered to undergraduates next fall

Elizabeth Huang

Starting in the fall, undergraduate students will be able to gain a museum studies certificate as part of the Bridging Disciplines Program.

The Bridging Disciplines Program allows undergraduates to earn a certificate through a course of study in 16 diverse areas. The museum studies program was founded by art history associate professor Louis Waldman and anthropology professor Pauline Strong. The museum studies certificate teaches students about how contemporary museums, archives and libraries function as sites of education. 

“I think museums are really important cultural institutions,” Strong said. “I think they tell us how a society wants to think about its own past, what its values are, what it treasures and how it wants people to think of it.”

The program consists of 19 credit hours of courses. Three to six of those credits hours have to be a “connecting experience” which provides practical hands on experience for students such as an internship or a job at the Blanton Museum. The courses for the program are divided into two groups, Waldman said.

“In one of the groups, the courses focus on the material aspects of things like collections and conservation,” Waldman said. “In the other, courses focus on the cultural and social aspects of museums. Between those two groups we hope students will come away with an appreciation of the fact that museums deal with objects that teach us about ourselves and the world.”

Waldman said he decided to make museum studies part of the Bridging Disciplines Program because of the interdisciplinary aspect of the program.

“People can create specializations in their groups of courses that are all about museum studies but no one person’s group of courses is going to be the same as another person,” Waldman said. “Each person is going to have interests that are specifically theirs and you can pick courses that reflect those interests.”

Business freshman Hannah Rumbarger said she was drawn to the certificate because it provided a way to combine her passions.

“I have always been interested in museums and art in general, but my major is business, so I thought the Bridging Disciplines Program would be the perfect way to take classes that I am interested in but otherwise wouldn’t count towards my degree,” Rumbarger said. “I think the program can also show me career paths in museums. I have learned that I could work as a marketing director within a museum.”