Museum 2.0: Warning: Museum Graduate Programs Spawn Legions of Zombies! January 22, 2014Posted by sandyclaus in Exploratorium, Museum History.
Summer\’s coming to D.C., and with it flocks of museum studies / education / exhibit planning graduate interns. I’m always curious when I meet these folks, who are about my age, choosing a different entry path into the museum world. The value proposition of museum grad programs is cloudy in my mind. Is it a credential that serves as a gateway to better jobs? Is it an education that would make me a better person? Sure, it’s great to learn museum theory and history. But I have some big concerns about museums studies programs, namely:Standardizing the field limits the potential for radical change. I confess I often feel this way about school in general. One of the reasons I fell in love with museums is because they support learning that is distinctly un-school-like. So I see these programs as a threat, an encroachment of schoolishness on the willfully unschooled. Following a standardized curriculum to prepare for work in the museum field homogenizes the perspectives and skills people bring to museum jobs. I think one of the things that keep museums fresh, welcoming, and non-didactic is the fact that most exhibit designers, museum educators, and conservators come from a variety of backgrounds. You were a carpenter. I was an engineer. She was a ceramicist. He wrote poetry. Sure, we may have some communication trouble getting on the same page. But that’s worth it for the wealth of different experiences we bring to the table.