Museum Studies

James Johnson's image for:
"Museum Studies"
Image by: 

Museum Studies is not the study of museums, but rather the study of how to set up, organize and run a museum, it is also called museology. It is a complex field that requires the understand of numerous other fields, including business, psychology, preservation techniques, library science and definitely history.

Business becomes involved because there is a need to manage money and finances as well as do marketing and promotion. Museums may mostly be nonprofit organization, but if they become to expensive on the community they will not be around for long. A museum has to keep proper accounting records and be able to draw in funds from numerous sources. Museum studies includes business management.

Psychology and sociology are also needed when setting up a museum and so need to be included in the museum studies. It can sometimes require tack to know how to properly organize a display so that it both attracts people by offends as few as possible. A good example of this situation are religious artifacts. Evolution seems to be controversial in some areas and putting Muslim and Hebrew items together may not be the best idea.

When displaying many older artifacts preservation techniques may be important. Old manuscripts should be hermetically sealed and in dim lighting. Signs should also be posted to not photograph, and staff trained to explain why things are the way they are. A course in museum studies will cover that light breaks down the pigments and can destroy the books, professional photographers use long exposure and no flash!

Cataloging of the exhibits and archives associated with museums is critical, and so museum studies covers basic library science. This includes the means or registering documents, placing them properly and then listing them with assorted reference terms in the computer!

History is really what museums are about and so obviously a bit of history is needed for museum studies. Not just human or world history, but the history of how museums came into being, and the reason for the way they are organized. History is important as it gives a foundation upon which to build. Even a museum of modern art needs to know the history of what went before!

Museum studies, a complex field and a complex undertaking, but an intriguing one for many people. It requires a combining of many other fields. To run a museum you need to be not only a good historian, but a good business person, an organizer, an archivist, a psychologist, and part scientist! A good website to help learn more about this is provided by the Smithsonian under Museum Studies..

More about this author: James Johnson

From Around the Web

  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrow