As new technologies develop and museums are faced with myriad ways to display their collections, museum professionals are challenged to keep up. Formal training programs at universities are a way for current and future practitioners to gain understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary for work in museums today. Perhaps due to the financial pressures of curating and managing museum collections, however, many major universities have overlooked this growing career field. That’s why the College of Liberal Studies is proud to be home to one of very few degrees in the nation to offer comprehensive education for museum operation and one of only two that can be completed 100 percent online.
“Creative solutions, innovative thinking and promoting active citizenship have always been guiding principles for CLS. The Museum Studies program is a perfect example of that,” said Martha Banz, associate dean of CLS. “Meeting education gaps as society and the world develop is a primary function of the college, and we’re thrilled to be able to continue that tradition with this degree.”
Museum professionals are committed to discovery. They serve as curators of the world’s past, so that it can touch the lives of those in the present. As can be expected, a task of this import means that the museum industry is constantly evolving and experiencing new challenges.
Museums play a culturally vital role in education and societal growth. However, they exist alongside an ever-growing number of choices competing for their patrons’ leisure time. This has impacted the very meaning of the word museum.
Rather than the old, dusty museums of the past, today’s exhibits now cover innumerable topics that range well beyond art and artifacts. Archiving everything from poetry to natural history to modern art and more, museums are now faced with an incredible range of subjects and even more ways to present them.
To succeed in this kind of environment, museum practitioners need to be experts at making connections and seeing possibilities. They need to be skilled at making their collections as engaging for the audience as these collections are for those who keep them, and they must do so while maintaining an aptitude for managing day-to-day operations.
The Master of Arts in Museum Studies (MAMS) at CLS inspires students to do just that.
Courses in the CLS curriculum emphasize exposure to “real-world” challenges one may face in this career field. Our Master of Arts in Museum Studies is no different. Many of the interdisciplinary topics covered in this degree program have a wide range of applications, from theories on the role of museums in society to the practical, day-to-day skills needed to keep a museum running. CLS uses innovative instructional design and technologies to help students develop appropriate everyday skills needed in museum management procedures, budget administration, exhibit and educational programming and community interaction.
Students have a wealth of experienced professionals from which to draw inspiration. Faculty members come from museums across the country, allowing students the opportunity to interact with those currently working in the field. This includes two AAM-accredited museums located at the University of Oklahoma – the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, which recently received the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, one of the finest university art museums in the United States.
In the Museum Studies program, our goals are very simple. We want to empower our students by teaching them the practical skills necessary in museum management and to encourage them to find new and interesting ways to keep collections relevant and audiences engaged. Our graduates will thrive as museum professionals, helping to preserve the world’s history in ways that will remain relevant for future generations.
Visit the CLS website for more information about the Museum Studies degree program.