Museum Studies minor offers practical experience

Story by Nathan Hills, Writer

A Museum Studies minor will be added to the Fall 2018 catalog with the goal of preparing students for graduate school in museum studies or to work in a museum. The minor requires students to complete 18 credit hours, three of which have to be upper-level credits from working in a museum, gallery or archive internship position.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, History, Culture and Society Nicholaus Pumphrey was the main force behind creating the minor.

“We have so many students working in [museums on campus] and interested in working in museums in the future,” Pumphrey said. “I thought, well it’s a great idea, let’s just create the Museum Studies program and it will help bring students together from different disciplines and sort of give them a little bit of basic training before going onto grad school or working somewhere.”

The minor offers students the opportunity to learn about the basic operations of a museum, such as management, creating exhibitions, artifact conservation and the business aspect of a museum. Students can also study areas specific to their major or area of interest, including history, religion, art and sociology.

“If you’re a History major and you want to work in a museum, more than likely you’ll be looking at a history museum, like the World War I museum,” Pumphrey said. “So you’ll already have history in your background, but you might not have business. Or if you’re an art major you might need to add history to it so you have a little bit of both backgrounds.”

Almost all of the courses that make up the minor are courses that are already part of Baker’s catalog in the areas of history, business, religion, art and sociology. Some of these courses already give students a glimpse into museum studies. An example is The Museum and The Bible, which culminates with the students planning their own exhibit. An Introduction to Museum Studies course was created for this minor, which Pumphrey says is made to be interdisciplinary and will be taught by different instructors throughout the semester.

This minor also provides students an opportunity to gain practical experience through internships and apply their degree right after graduating.

“I was thinking of a lot of art students who when they graduate they don’t know what they’re going to do, you know just be an artist somewhere, and this gives them an opportunity to work in museums as well as continue their artwork,” Pumphrey said.

Assistant Professor of Art Russell Horton, Professor of Art Inge Balch and Associate Professor of History, Culture and Society John Richards were also involved in creating the Museum Studies minor. Baker’s campus offers several opportunities to work at a museum or archive. Students can work and intern in the Quayle Bible Collection, Holt-Russell Gallery, Old Castle Museum or Baker University and Kansas United Methodist Archives.