ANTHROPOLOGY 288
INTRO TO MUSEUM STUDIES
Spring 2014


Monday: 5-7:30pm
Sturges 14
Instructor: Kathryn Murano
Office hours: By appointment only
Cell phone: 585-739-8987
Email: murano@geneseo.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION
What does our “stuff” say about us? This course considers museums and museum collections within their
broader socio-cultural context. We will examine the role of museums in society and standards for
collecting, caring for, and displaying cultural objects across time and space. The course will also provide
a practical introduction to many aspects of contemporary museum work, including collections
management, exhibit development, interpretation and education, and ethics and governance.

LEARNING OUTCOMES
• Students will demonstrate an understanding of material culture theory as it has evolved over time.
• Students will demonstrate an understanding of museums as culturally constructed institutions.
• Students will demonstrate an understanding of some of the contemporary challenges facing museum
workers in the collection, preservation, documentation, display, and interpretation of material culture
and will be able to identify strategies for overcoming these challenges.
• Students will demonstrate an understanding of source community perspectives as they relate to
museum collections and will be able to identify opportunities for collaboration between source
communities and museums.
• Students will gain practical experience in museum work.

SOCIAL SCIENCE CORE
This course fulfills one course in the social science general education requirements. The guidelines for
social science core courses stress the development of the following characteristics of a responsible
member of society:
• an acquaintance with major empirical, analytical, or theoretical approaches to human behavior,
institutions or culture;
• an acquaintance with social, economic, political, or moral alternatives;
• an acquaintance with major problems, issues, institutions, practices or trends in the social world;
• a capacity to express ideas clearly, coherently and grammatically in written form as one component of
the evaluation process. This written work must total at least 1500 words, at least half of which must
be prepared outside of class.

REQUIRED TEXT:*
*All required readings for class will be distributed electronically via myCourses at least a week in
advance of each class.

RECOMMENDED TEXT:
Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition.
Washington, DC: The AAM Press, American Association of Museums, 2010. (OPTIONAL)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS:
Throughout the course, you will engage in an exhibit development project of your choice. Rather than
creating a physical exhibit, however, your final product will be a detailed exhibit plan that includes the
minimum 5 required exhibition planning components (concept paper, exhibit themes and outline, object
list and catalogue information/research, script with graphics and delivery methods, and floorplan) plus
any additional planning components you choose to create (elevations, multimedia content, logic model,
etc.). Each student will be responsible for identifying his own exhibit topic, target audience, and
interpretive lens; selecting a variety of actual or virtual objects and experiences for inclusion; and
developing planning components that demonstrate a deep understanding of the concepts we discuss
throughout the semester. You will submit drafts of your exhibit development components throughout the
semester as individual assignments.
The final project will include the 5 assigned exhibit development products from this process accompanied
by a detailed rationale for the choices you made. In no less than 1500 words, this final paper will be
formatted as a request to fund the implementation of your project and argue for the efficacy of your
project in achieving its educational/experiential goals. The 5 or more exhibit planning components will
serve as the appendices to your narrative proposal. At the end of the semester, you will do a 10-minute
presentation of your work to the class.
Complete instructions/grading rubrics for each component, and the final project, will be available on
myCourses.

GRADING
Grades will be computed in the following way:
• class participation (10%)
• 5 assignments on myCourses (10% each)
• final presentation (10%)
• final paper and appendices (30%)
C Complete all assignments satisfactorily and on time and fulfill all course requirements.
B Complete all assignments on time, fulfill all course requirements, and go beyond requirements by
demonstrating particular care and effort in your work.
A Meet criteria for a B; distinguish yourself through particularly effective and/or inventive
approaches to your work as a researcher, writer, and class member.
Students are expected to complete all assignments, do the readings on time, and attend classes regularly.
Do not miss readings, lectures, or class discussions, as they complement each other. Please notify me in
advance if you have to miss class. If you need help or are just interested in discussing the readings or
other topics of interest, do not hesitate to call or email me. There will not be any opportunities for extra
credit.

ACADEMIC HONESTY
Students are urged to read the policies on Academic Honesty at:
http://bulletin.geneseo.edu/first/?pg=01_Student_Affairs_policies.html

IMPORTANT DATES**
• Exhibit concept paper due on Feb 14
• Preliminary object list and related research due on Feb 21
• Outline of exhibit structure and interpretive themes due on March 7
• Exhibit script (including objects, graphics, and interactive delivery methods) due on April 11

• Exhibit layout due on April 18
• Final paper outline due on April 25 (OPTIONAL)
• Final presentations – April 28 and May 5
• Final paper due on May 9
**Please note: all assignments are due on the date indicated on the syllabus. There is a full letter grade
penalty for each day an assignment is late. Late assignments will only be accepted up to 2 days late
(including weekend days).
I reserve the right to alter the syllabus for any reason. Please check MyCourses at least twice a
week to stayed informed of any course updates.
Class Atmosphere: This class is a place to ask questions; explore new ideas; produce new knowledge;
and voice disagreement. We will have open discussions and debates, and I expect that you will respect the
ideas and opinions of your fellow students. It is essential that while we may not always agree, we always
respect each other. Respectful classroom behavior includes paying attention, active listening, and not
engaging in distracting behavior (such as texting or checking email/Facebook).

COURSE SCHEDULE
Week 1: Monday 1/27
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW; WHAT IS MATERIAL CULTURE?
Objectives and expectations
Meet your colleagues
Establishing a baseline for successful exhibits
Readings:
James Deetz. Chapter from In Small Things Remembered.
Pearce, Susan M. “Objects as Meaning; or, Narrating the Past.” In Susan M. Pearce (ed.), Interpreting
Objects and Collections (pp. 19-29). London: Routledge, 1994.
Reflection questions: Why is material culture important? What are some of the ways in which historians
and anthropologists have derived meaning from, or ascribed it to, material objects? What are the
strengths and limitations of different ways of understanding material culture?
Exhibition Planning Component: Exhibit Development Process
Smithsonian Institution. “Making Exhibitions”
Week 2: Monday 2/3
THE MUSEUM IN SOCIETY
Readings:
Schulz, Eva. “Notes on the History of Collecting and of Museums.” In Susan M. Pearce (ed.),
Interpreting Objects and Collections (pp.175-187). London: Routledge, 1994.
Ames, Michael. Museums, the Public and Anthropology: A Study in the Anthropology of Anthropology.
Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1986. Chapter 1, pp.1-11.

Hein, Hilde S. The Museum in Transition: A Philosophical Perspective. Washington: Smithsonian
Institution Press, 2000. Chapters 1 and 2, pp.1-36.
Goswamy, B. N. “Another Past, Another Context: Exhibiting Indian Art Abroad.” In Susan M. Pearce
(ed.), Interpreting Objects and Collections (pp.188-192). London: Routledge, 1994.
Reflection questions: How do museums change over time and across cultures? What relationship do
museums have with society at large?
Exhibition Planning Component: Big Idea, Project Objectives, Target Audience
Klobe, Tom. “The Concept of an Exhibition”
Week 3: Monday 2/10
INTERPLAY BETWEEN MUSEUM AND VISITOR: MAKING MEANING
Readings:
Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean. “The Past, Present and the Future: Museum Education from the 1790s to the
1990s.” In Eilean Hooper-Greenhill (ed.), The Educational Role of the Museum (pp.258-262).
London: Routledge, 1994.
Beverly Serrell. “What Do Visitors Mean by ‘Meaning’?”
Peter Samis. “Meaning-Making in Nine Acts”
Reflection questions: What responsibilities do museums have to their audiences? How do visitors make
meaning from museum experiences? How can museums better serve their stakeholders?
Exhibition Planning Component: Visitor Experience, Exhibit Evaluation
Allen, Sue et al. “Research in Museums: Coping with Complexity.” In Principle, in Practice: Museum as
Learning Institutions (pp. 229-245). Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2007.
Homework:
Exhibit concept paper due on myCourses by 11:55PM on Friday, Feb 14
Week 4: M 2/17
MATERIAL CULTURE IN THE MUSEUM CONTEXT
Readings:
Hein, Hilde S. The Museum in Transition: A Philosophical Perspective. Washington: Smithsonian
Institution Press, 2000. Chapters 4 and 5, pp.51-87.
Laura Burd Schiavo. “Object Lessons: Making Meaning from Things in History Museums”
Reflection questions: How does an object’s transition into a museum context affect its meaning? What
do you find surprising or problematic about the curatorial process?
Collections Management Component: Accessioning and Registration
Carnell, Clarisse and Rebecca Buck. “Acquisitions and Accessioning.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean
Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 44-57). Washington, DC:
The AAM Press, American Association of Museums, 2010.

Curatorial Component: Researching and Documenting Objects
Julianne Snide. “The Construction of Meaning”
Pearce, Susan M. “Thinking about Things.” In Susan M. Pearce (ed.), Interpreting Objects and
Collections (pp.125-132). London: Routledge, 1994.
Homework:
Preliminary object list and related research due on myCourses by 11:55PM on Friday, Feb 21
Week 5: M 2/24
ETHICS OF COLLECTING
Readings:
Warren, Karen J. “A Philosophical Perspective on the Ethics and Resolution of Cultural Property Issues.”
In Phyllis Mauch Messenger (ed.), The Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property: Whose Culture,
Whose Property? (pp.1-26). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989.
Sassoon, David. “Considering the Perspective of the Victim: The Antiquities of Nepal.” In Phyllis Mauch
Messenger (ed.), The Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property: Whose Culture, Whose Property?
(pp.61-72). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989.
Povoledo, Elisabetta. “Getty Ex-Curator Testifies in Rome Antiquities Trial.” The New York Times.
March 20, 2009.
Reflection questions: Who owns the past? What should museums collect, and to what end? Who has the
“right” to collect and interpret material culture?
Collections Management Component: Museum Ethics
Buck, Rebecca. “Ethics for Registrars and Collections Managers.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman
Gilmore, eds. Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 394-398). Washington, DC: The
AAM Press, American Association of Museums, 2010.
Week 6: M 3/3
POLITICS OF DISPLAY
Readings:
Ames, Michael. “Cannibal Tours, Glass Boxes and the Politics of Interpretation.” In Susan M. Pearce
(ed.), Interpreting Objects and Collections (pp.98-106). London: Routledge, 1994.
Coxall, Helen. “Museum Text as Mediated Message.” In Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean (ed.), The Educational
Role of the Museum (pp.132-139). London: Routledge, 1994.
Reflection questions: What are some issues that curators face in displaying and interpreting objects for
the public? How can these issues be mitigated?
Collections Management Component: Numbering and Marking / Condition Reporting
Buck, Rebecca. “Numbering.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum
Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 206-208). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.

Johnston, Tamara, Robin Meador-Woodruff, and Terry Segal. “Marking.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean
Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 233-276). Washington,
DC: The AAM Press, American Association of Museums, 2010.
Demeroukas, Marie. “Condition Reporting.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds.
Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 223-232). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Homework:
Outline of exhibit organization and interpretive themes due on myCourses by 11:55PM on Friday, March

Week 7: M 3/10
Mid-term grades due
NAGPRA AND REPATRIATION
Readings:
Nichols, Deborah L., Anthony L. Klesert, and Roger Anyon. “Ancestral Sites, Shrines, and Graves:
Native American Perspectives on the Ethics of Collecting Cultural Properties.” In Phyllis Mauch
Messenger (ed.), The Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property: Whose Culture, Whose Property?
(pp.27-38). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989.
Weiss, Elizabeth. “NAGPRA: Before and After.” Friends of America’s Past.
“National NAGPRA Frequently Asked Questions.” National Park Service, U.S. Department of the
Interior.
Reflection questions: Do you support NAGPRA? Why or why not?
Collections Management Component: Deaccessioning and Repatriation
Morris, Martha and Antonia Moser. “Deaccessioning.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman
Gilmore, eds. Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 100-107). Washington, DC: The
AAM Press, American Association of Museums, 2010.
Buck, Rebecca. “Deaccessioning Risk Chart.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds.
Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (p. 108). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
McKeown, C. Timothy, A. Murphy, and J. Schansberg. “Complying with NAGPRA.” In Buck,
Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition.
(pp. 448-457). Washington, DC: The AAM Press, American Association of Museums,
2010.
Week 8: M 3/17
Visit Livingston County Historical Society
Collections Management Component: Object Handling and Storage
Neilson, Dixie. “Object Handling.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum
Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 209-218). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Fisher, Genevieve. “Preventive Care.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds.

Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 287-292). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Swain, Lynn and Rebecca Buck. “Storage.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds.
Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 293-299). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Week 9: M 3/24
NO CLASS – SPRING BREAK
Week 10: M 3/31
DESIGNING VISITOR EXPERIENCES
Readings:
Nina Simon. Web 2.0 blog
Reflection questions: What are the components of a participatory museum experience? What are the
benefits of this approach?
Curatorial Component: Writing Label Copy and Exhibit Preparation
Carter. J. and D. Hillier. “A Writing Checklist.” In Eilean Hooper Greenhill (ed.), The Educational Role
of the Museum (p.148). London: Routledge, 1994.
Jacobson, Claudia. “Preparation.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum
Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 307-313). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Week 11: M 4/7
MUSEUMS AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Readings:
Barbara Cohen-Stratyner. “Authority and Meaning-Making in the Digital Era”
John Falk. “Enhancing Visitor Interaction and Learning with Mobile Technologies”
Reflection questions: How are museums using new technologies? What are the benefits of using these
technologies? Are there any drawbacks?
Collections Management Component: Photography and Digital Asset Management
Arnone, Olivia. “Digital Asset Management.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds.
Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 184-192). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Hawkins, Scott. “Photography.” In Buck, Rebecca A. and Jean Allman Gilmore, eds. Museum
Registration Methods, 5th Edition. (pp. 277-285). Washington, DC: The AAM Press,
American Association of Museums, 2010.
Homework:

Exhibit script (including objects, graphics, and interactive delivery methods) due on myCourses by
11:55PM on Friday, April 11
Week 12: M 4/14
MODERN MUSEUM DILEMMAS: FROM FUNDRAISING TO PLASTICS CONSERVATION
Readings:
TBD
In class: Museum Roundtable Guest Speakers
Homework:
Exhibit layout due on myCourses by 11:55PM on Friday, April 18
Week 13: M 4/21
THE FUTURE OF MUSEUMS
Readings:
Sheppard, Beverly. “Meaningful Collaboration.” In Falk, John H., Lynn D. Dierking, and Susan Foutz
(eds.), In Principle, in Practice: Museums as Learning Institutions (pp. 181-194). Lanham:
AltaMira Press, 2007.
Pedretti, Erminia. “Challenging Convention and Communicating Controversy: Learning Through Issues
Based Museum Exhibitions.” In Falk, John H., Lynn D. Dierking, and Susan Foutz (eds.), In
Principle, in Practice: Museums as Learning Institutions (pp. 121-135). Lanham: AltaMira Press,
2007.
West, David “Mac” and David E. Chesebrough. “New Ways of Doing Business.” In Falk, John H., Lynn
D. Dierking, and Susan Foutz (eds.), In Principle, in Practice: Museums as Learning
Institutions (pp. 139-152). Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2007.
Reflection questions: What is your vision for the museum of the future?
Homework:
Final paper outline due on myCourses by 11:55PM on Friday, April 25 (OPTIONAL)
Week 14: M 4/28
In class: Student Projects Presentation
Week 15: M 5/5
In class: Student Projects Presentation and Wrap-up
Homework:
Final Papers Due on myCourses by 11:55pm on Friday, May 9