Museum Studies | School of Information | Kent State University

Museum Studies

What Is "Museum Studies"?

Museum studies, sometimes called museology, is the field that encompasses the ideas and issues involved in the museum profession—from the practical, day-to-day skills needed to operate a museum to theories on the societal role of museums. (Source: Smithsonian)

Museums, like libraries, are in the information business. The museum studies courses at Kent State employ a holistic approach to the study of museums as institutions, like libraries, that generate and perpetuate knowledge. Students will gain an understanding of museums in context as dynamic, interactive information systems composed of people, objects, and activities.

What distinguishes the Kent State SLIS approach is that the museum is at the center of study, not content. Most museum studies programs take the subject content (e.g., history, natural history, or art) as the focus for student training. The courses offered by SLIS make the study of museums their core starting point, allowing content to filter in from previous degree work, other electives or research. Because the SLIS courses are structured within a library and information science framework, students are able to cut across the spectrum of traditional academic disciplines, which strengthens the skills of future museum professional by giving them a broader perspective, a larger knowledge base, and more flexibility.

The museum studies specialization within SLIS prepares M.L.I.S. graduates with the knowledge and skills required to not only work in traditional LIS careers as librarians and registrars, but also serve as trained information professionals in many additional capacities in museums. The courses offered by SLIS will prepare graduates to work in any type of museum.  

What Can I Do With This Background?

Museum registrar, archivist, curator, museum technician, museum educator, museum director, exhibit coordinator, visitor services specialist, cultural heritage information professional, museum librarian. This specialization is highly customizable and can be designed to suit the dynamic, changing needs of today's museum professionals.  

In Addition to the Required Core Courses, What Classes Should I Take?

Key electives for this specialization include:

  • 60700 Foundations of Museum Studies (offered all semesters)
  • 60701 Museum Collections (Spring)
  • 60702 Museum Communication (Fall)
  • 60703 Museum Users (Spring)
  • 60704 The Museum System (Fall)

For additional course options for this specialization, please consult with your academic advisor to plan your program of study. In addition to the courses, the following museum studies workshops have been developed to provide an in-depth exploration of key topics:

  • Developing Memorable Museum Tours
  • Museum Collection Information Management
  • Museum Object Preparation Methods
  • Museums and the Law
  • Writing and Developing an Exhibit Script

You can read descriptions of these workshops in the Workshop Catalog.  

What Professional Organizations Are Relevant to This Career Path?