Museum StudiesConcordia’s new museum studies program – a rarity among small liberal arts colleges – gives students hands-on experience in an art museum setting. Thanks to a long relationship with the local Rourke Art Museum, students can combine intense coursework on campus with opportunities to work and volunteer at the museum. Students will learn about cataloging and caring for collections as well as curating and marketing exhibitions. Organizing an art exhibition at the Rourke Art Museum or the Rourke Art Gallery serves as the program’s capstone course.
Jonathan Harper ’08 is a good example of how this program can work. For his senior curatorial practicum, Harper has worked to bring an exhibition of prints by the famous artists Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn to the Rourke Art Museum.
The program is directed by assistant professor of art Dr. Susan Lee.
MUSEUM STUDIES COURSES
Museum Studies I
Museum Studies I is a comprehensive introduction to the museum as a cultural phenomenon. Working through a variety of texts, we explore the histories and ideas of “the museum” from the beginning of formalized art exhibitions in antiquity to the postmodern age. In addition, we discuss the numerous controversies that have occupied museum professionals from the end of the 19th century to the present day.
Students engage in two major projects throughout the semester – a critique of one permanent and one temporary exhibition; and a case study on a major museum that analyzes the relationships among its architecture, collection, and community.
The course also includes an introduction to basic practica (including basic hanging, lighting and show design), conducted at the Rourke Art Museum, which we treat as our installation laboratory.
Museum Studies II
This course surveys methods, skills, and resources in three areas of museum work: art objects, interpretation, and organizational administration. Topics include registration and records, care of collections, conservation, mission statements, museum education, visitor evaluation, exhibition planning and design, membership, marketing, development, governance and management.
This class takes full advantage of the Fargo-Moorhead visual arts scene with visits to museums and conversations with various professionals in the museum field. Approximately half of the coursework involves participation in a range of projects at the Rourke Art Museum, primarily focused on developing education programming. We also exercise our skills with a theoretical exhibition design project. This group project includes a layout of the exhibit’s design, didactic panels, an education program, marketing strategies and advertising, a budget, as well as a grant proposal that helps fund the exhibition.