Museum Studies (Bryn Mawr)

Department Website:
https://www.brynmawr.edu/museumstudies

Museum Studies is a program that offers students a rich and dynamic education in both museum theory and practice. Students have the opportunities to learn about the history of museums and their roles in society as well as to engage with critical, theoretical museum scholarship. Through coursework and internships, students will also have the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience in Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections as well as in museums in Philadelphia and beyond. This dynamic and inter-disciplinary program intersects disciplines such as the History of Art, Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Education, Cities, Biology and Geology.  The Bryn Mawr Museum Studies program aims to empower students to become significant contributors to various professions throughout museums, galleries and archives.

The Museum Studies program calls upon the College’s extensive collection of art and artifacts, rare books and prints, photographs and manuscripts, which facilitates research and experiential learning for students. Through Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections, students can draw upon the in-house expertise of a strong group of curators and other museum professionals working in the department.  Bryn Mawr is in close proximity to the museum-rich Philadelphia region, and students have the opportunity to work with distinguished and diverse museum professionals across the city.

Minor Requirements

The requirements for the minor are six courses that include:

  • Core courses (2): “Museum Studies: History, Theory, Practice” and one course with an exhibition planning component. This can include the development of an online exhibition or an exhibition proposal.
  • Elective courses (2-3): These can be courses officially taught in museum studies as well as courses in other disciplines that include museum studies content. Students also can take advantage of relevant courses at Haverford and Swarthmore.  The Director of Museum Studies in addition to the Professor of the elective must deem the course acceptable as a museum studies course.
  • Experiential courses (1-2): Praxis courses and/or the Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar.

A student declares Museum Studies as a minor by meeting with the Director of Museum Studies and completing a minor work plan. The student can major in any department. Student internships in museums are considered vital “hands-on” learning opportunities for those who seek careers in museum practice.  Students will also be encouraged to seek summer museum internships.

Museum Studies Core Courses

Steering Committee

A steering committee administers the Museum Studies program at Bryn Mawr. Many other faculty  contribute courses to the program; see the Courses section for a representative listing.

Carrie Robbins
Curator, Academic Liaison for Art & Artifacts

Alicia Walker
Associate Professor of History of Art on the Marie Neuberger Fund for the Study of Arts and Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program and Director of the Center for Visual Culture

Monique Scott
Director of Museum Studies

Courses

Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Courses

ARCH B102  INTRODUCTION TO CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY  (1.0 Credit)

Astrid Lindenlauf

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

A historical survey of the archaeology and art of Greece, Etruria, and Rome.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

ARCH B203  ANCIENT GREEK CITIES AND SANCTUARIES  (1.0 Credit)

Evrydiki Tasopoulou

Division: Humanities

A study of the development of the Greek city-states and sanctuaries. Archaeological evidence is surveyed in its historic context. The political formation of the city-state and the role of religion is presented, and the political, economic, and religious institutions of the city-states are explored in their urban settings. The city-state is considered as a particular political economy of the Mediterranean and in comparison to the utility of the concept of city-state in other cultures.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

ARCH B219  ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF LATE ANTIQUITY  (1.0 Credit)

This class examines the art and archaeology of the late-antique Mediterranean, tracing various iterations of artistic and architectural experimentation as well as socio-political expression from the Late Roman world of the Tetrarchs (3rd century CE) to the first Islamic Dynasty, the Umayyads (7th century CE). We will explore how the vitality of classical styles and pagan beliefs mixed with the creative energies of other “indigenous” traditions - Egyptian, Arabic, Jewish, Gallic, etc., as well as those of the new church, so as to better understand the cultural plurality and vigor of this period formally considered a “Dark Age.”

ARCH B252  POMPEII  (1.0 Credit)

Evrydiki Tasopoulou

Division: Humanities

Introduces students to a nearly intact archaeological site whose destruction by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 C.E. was recorded by contemporaries. The discovery of Pompeii in the mid-1700s had an enormous impact on 18th- and 19th-century views of the Roman past as well as styles and preferences of the modern era. Informs students in classical antiquity, urban life, city structure, residential architecture, home decoration and furnishing, wall painting, minor arts and craft and mercantile activities within a Roman city.

ARCH B306  MONUMENTAL PAINTING  (1.0 Credit)

Evrydiki Tasopoulou

Division: Humanities

The Mediterranean tradition of large-scale painting begins in prehistoric times and continues through Late Antiquity and beyond. Important examples survive on the walls of houses, tombs and other structures at sites in the Bronze Age Aegean, in Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Anatolia, Macedonia, Magna Graecia, and Etruria, Rome and the famous sites of Pompeii and Hercul- aneum preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Technical, artistic, cultural and interpretive issues will be considered.

ARCH B317  CULTURAL HERITAGE AND ENDANGERED ARCHAEOLOGY  (1.0 Credit)

Jennie Bradbury

This course will examine how and why archaeological sites are ‘endangered’. Primarily focusing on the Near East and North Africa (the MENA region), we will examine the different types of archaeological and heritage sites found across this broad region, and some of the threats and disturbances affecting them. We will consider how different interest groups and stakeholders view, value and present historical and archaeological sites to the general public, as well as the success of modern initiatives and projects to safeguard the heritage of the MENA region. Our research will consider the ethics of cultural preservation, as well as the issues and problems encountered by heritage specialists working in areas of modern conflict. Whilst not all damage can be prevented, the course will consider how different threats and disturbances might be mitigated. Prerequisite: Upper level 300-level course. Students should have completed at least two 100 level/200 level courses in either classical or near eastern archaeology.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

Chemistry Courses

CHEM B208  TOPICS IN ART ANALYSIS  (1.0 Credit)

Alicia Walker, Marianne Weldon

This is a topics course and topics will vary. All courses will cover a variety of methods of analysis of works of art centered around a specific theme. Using both completed case studies and their own analysis of objects in the Bryn Mawr College collection, students will investigate a number of instrumental methods of obtaining both quantitative and qualitative information about the manufacture, use and history of the objects. This course counts towards the major in History of Art.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

Education Courses

EDUC H311  THEORIES OF CHANGE IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS  (1.0 Credit)

Kelly Zuckerman

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

Drawing on students' weekly fieldwork, this seminar will explore how educational practice reflects and informs theories of change and pathways of action. Students their own theory of change; analyze the theories of change underlying their field sites; and develop skills and strategies for persisting in creative independence and interdependence with institutions. Areas of focus include teacher research and academic research, business models, network and relational models, mindfulness and listening, journalism, social media, museum studies and artistic expression. We bring these considerations to a reading of a current education reform initiative, The Baltimore Algebra Project, as a means of exploring the intersections of personal and structural growth. Prerequisite(s): Limited to students completing the minor in Educational Studies, or instructor consent

(Offered: Spring 2021)

French and French Studies Courses

FREN B105  DIRECTIONS DE LA FRANCE CONTEMPORAINE  (1.0 Credit)

Christophe Corbin, Julien Suaudeau

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

An examination of contemporary society in France and Francophone cultures as portrayed in recent documents and film. Emphasizing the tension in contemporary French-speaking societies between tradition and change, the course focuses on subjects such as family structures and the changing role of women, cultural and linguistic identity, an increasingly multiracial society, the individual and institutions (religious, political, educational), and “les loisirs”. In addition to the basic text and review of grammar, readings are chosen from newspapers, contemporary literary texts and magazines, complemented by video materials. Prerequisite: FREN 005 or 101.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

History of Art Courses

HART B218  BYZANTINE TEXTILES IN LIFE AND DEATH  (1.0 Credit)

Alicia Walker

This course explores the manifold uses and meanings of textiles in early Byzantine visual and material culture as well as their afterlife as objects of collection and display in the modern era. Students will undertake original research on early Byzantine textiles from the collection of Philadelphia University. Assignments will develop skills in museological writing, including documentation for collection databases and object exhibitions. Prerequisites: Previous coursework in History of Art, Archaeology, Museum Studies, or History is recommended, but not required.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B248  TOPICS IN MUSEUM STUDIES  (1.0 Credit)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

HART B274  HISTORY OF CHINESE ART  (1.0 Credit)

Jie Shi

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course is a survey of the arts of China from Neolithic to the contemporary period, focusing on bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese appropriation of Buddhist art, and the evolution of landscape and figure painting traditions.

HART B279  EXHIBITING AFRICA: ART, ARTIFACT AND NEW ARTICULATIONS  (1.0 Credit)

At the turn of the 20th century, the Victorian natural history museum played an important role in constructing and disseminating images of Africa to the Western public. The history of museum representations of Africa and Africans reveals that exhibitions—both museum exhibitions and “living” World’s Fair exhibitions— has long been deeply embedded in politics, including the persistent “othering” of African people as savages or primitives. While paying attention to stereotypical exhibition tropes about Africa, we will also consider how art museums are creating new constructions of Africa and how contemporary curators and conceptual artists are creating complex, challenging new ways of understanding African identities.

HART B281  MUSEUM STUDIES: HISTORY, THEORY, PRACTICE  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts); B: Analysis of the Social World

Using the museums of Philadelphia as field sites, this course provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical aspects of museum studies and the important synergies between theory and practice. Students will learn: the history of museums as institutions of recreation, education and leisure; how the museum itself became a symbol of power, prestige and sometimes alienation; debates around the ethics and politics of collecting objects of art, culture and nature; and the qualities that make an exhibition effective (or not). By visiting exhibitions and meeting with a range of museum professionals in art, anthropology and science museums, this course offers a critical perspective on the inner workings of the museum as well as insights into the “new museology.”

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B300  THE CURATOR IN THE MUSEUM  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This course provides an introduction to theoretical and practical aspects of museums and to the links between practice and theory that are the defining characteristic of the museum curator’s work today. The challenges and opportunities confronting curators and their colleagues, peers, audiences, and constituents will be addressed through readings, discussions, guest presentations, writings, and individual and group projects.

HART B301  TOPICS IN EXHIBITION STRATEGIES  (1.0 Credit)

Alicia Walker, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

HART B316  MUSEUM STUDIES FIELDWORK SEMINAR  (1.0 Credit)

Sylvia Houghteling, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course provides students a forum in which to ground, frame and discuss their hands-on work in museums, galleries, archives or collections. Whether students have arranged an internship at a local institution or want to pursue one in the Bryn Mawr College Collections, this course will provide a framework for these endeavors, coupling praxis with theory supported by readings from the discipline of Museum Studies. The course will culminate in a final poster presentation, an opportunity to reflect critically on the internship experience. Prior to taking the course, students will develop a Praxis Learning Plan through the LILAC office. All students will share a set syllabus, common learning objectives and readings, but will also be able to tailor those objectives to the specific museum setting or Special Collections project in which they are involved.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B318  CULTURAL PROPERTY AND MUSEUMS  (1.0 Credit)

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course examines cultural heritage and the concept of cultural property in relation to museums and collections. We will consider the development of national and international laws in the 20th and 21st centuries to protect cultural heritage, museum responsibilities, and case studies on topics including the looting of archaeological sites, the fate of art during war, nationalism and politics, restitution of art, and fakes and forgeries.

HART B345  TOPICS IN MATERIAL CULTURE  (1.0 Credit)

Sylvia Houghteling

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B374  TOPICS: EXHIBITION SEMINAR  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This is a topics course. Course content varies. Students will gain practical experience in the production of an exhibition: conceiving a curatorial approach, articulating themes, writing didactics, researching a checklist, designing gallery layout, producing print and web materials, developing programs, and marketing the exhibit. Prerequisite: At least one previous HART course at Bryn Mawr College.

History Courses

HIST B237  THEMES IN MODERN AFRICAN HISTORY  (1.0 Credit)

Kalala Ngalamulume

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This is a topics course. Course content varies

HIST B245  TOPICS IN MODERN US HISTORY  (1.0 Credit)

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This is a topics course addressing public history in the U.S.

HIST B274  FOCUS: TOPICS IN MODERN US HISTORY  (0.5 Credit)

Sharon Ullman

Division: Social Science

This is a topics course in 20th century America social history. Topics vary by half semester

Italian and Italian Studies Courses

ITAL B308  ROME AS PALIMPSESTS: FROM RUINS TO VIRTUAL REALITY  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

From the urban dream that Raphael confessed to pope Leo X in the middle of the Renaissance to the parkour on the top of the Colosseum in the Assassin’s Creed videogames, Rome has always been both a memory and a vision: a place of nostalgia and endless potential. In this course we will investigate some crucial places, moments, and ideas in the modern history of this ancient capital of Western culture: XVI century Mannerist painting and the Pop Art of Piazza del Popolo, the early modern re-uses of the Colosseum and its cubic clone designed under fascism, the narrations of Romantic grand-tours and the ones of contemporary postcolonial authors. We will adopt a trans-historical and inter-disciplinary perspective, focusing on the main attempts to revive the glory of the ancient empire. We will try to understand weather Italy’s capital is a museum to be preserved, an old laboratory of urban innovations, a cemetery, a sanctuary, or simply an amalgam of past and future, glory and misery, beauty and horror. For Italian majors you will have an additional hour for credit. Prerequisite: One two-hundred level course for students interested in taking the course towards Italian credits.

ITAL B315  A GENDERED HISTORY OF THE AVANT-GARDE  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

The very concept of ‘avant-garde’ is steeped in a masculine warlike imagery, and the founding manifesto of Futurism even glorifies ‘contempt for the woman’. Yet, feminine, queer, androgynous, and non-binary perspectives on sexual identity played a central role — from Rimbaud to current experimentalism — in the development of what has been called ‘the tradition of the new’. In this seminar we will explore such a paradoxical anti-traditional tradition through texts, images, sounds, and videos, adopting a historical prospective from early 20th century movements to the Neo-Avant-Garde. We will unearth the stories and works of great experimentalists who have been neglected because of their gender. We will deal with poems made up entirely of place names, of recorded noises, of typographical symbols. Taking advantage of the college’s collection and library, we will try to read texts with no words, surreal stories, performances, objects, and we will make our own avant-garde experiments. Course taught in English, no previous knowledge of Italian required.

Psychology Courses

PSYC B231  HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY  (1.0 Credit)

Laurel Peterson

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This course will provide an overview of the field of health psychology using lecture, exams, videos, assignments, and an article critique. We will examine the current definition of health psychology, as well as the theories and research behind many areas in health psychology (both historical and contemporary). The course will focus on specific health and social psychological theories, empirical research, and applying the theory and research to real world situations. Prerequisite: Introductory Psychology (PSYC B105) or Foundations of Psychology (PSYC H100). Students may take either this course or HLTH/PSYC H245 not both.

Spanish Courses

SPAN B312  LATIN AMERICAN AND LATINO ART AND THE QUESTION OF THE MASSES  (1.0 Credit)

Martín Gaspar

The course examines the ways in which Latin American and Latino texts (paintings, murals, sculptures, and some narratives) construct "minor," "featureless" and "anonymous" characters, thus demarcating how and which members of society can and cannot advance a plot, act independently and/or be agents of change. By focusing the attention on what is de-emphasized, we will explore how artistic works, through their form, are themselves political actors in the social life of Latin America, the US, and beyond. We will also consider the place of Latin American and Latino Art in the US imaginary and in institutions such as museums and galleries. Prerequisites: Course is taught in English and is open to all juniors or seniors who have taken at least one 200-level course in a literature department. Students seeking Spanish credit must have taken BMC Spanish 120 and at least one other Spanish course at a 200-level, or received permission from instructor. Course does not meet an Approach. Counts toward Latin American, Iberian and Latina/o Studies. Counts toward Museum Studies.