This semester, I am excited to take on the new role of director of graduate studies of the U's museum studies graduate minor (MST). I will be following Gordon Murdock who led the program for nearly 20 years before retiring from the Bell Museum of Natural History in December. The MST program, an interdisciplinary program begun in 1989, is designed to supplement a student's major and has benefited students from anthropology, art history, design, architecture, biological sciences, history, education, and journalism.
The MST program provides a foundation in specific areas that are unique to museums - collections and their care, community and social roles, creating effective exhibitions, informal education and object-based learning, museum administration, and understanding audiences. It consists of two foundation courses and an internship at a museum, plus a directed study opportunity for PhD students. Internships are pursued at Twin Cities area museums, particularly those on the U campus - GMD, the Weisman Art Museum (WAM), and the Bell Museum of Natural History.
In the article "Museum Studies at a Crossroads" in the January/February 2012 issue of Museum News, the American Association of Museums' magazine, the author states that museum studies alumni bring new knowledge and new ways to thinking to the field, benefiting thousands of cultural institutions. The U's MST program sees approximately 15 students complete the program annually, resulting in over 300 graduates over the life of the program that have gained this useful introduction to museums and added to the vitality and innovation of the field.
I look forward to working with the MST faculty and students on this program. Email me with your ideas about how MST can more effectively address issues of engaged museums in communities.
Lin Nelson-Mayson, GMD Director, DGS Museum Studies Graduate Minor