Museum studies; Visitors view a textile exhibit at a museum

Museum Studies

One of the nation’s most prestigious museum studies programs, in the heart of the nation’s capital

Established in 1976, the Master of Arts in Museum Studies at the George Washington University responds to the evolving museum profession by combining hands-on training with future-focused theoretical engagement.  Students gain foundational knowledge about the state of museum work today, practical skills and the ability to critically engage with developments in the field. Our location in the nation’s museum capital offers a unique opportunity to connect to national and global conversations at the cutting edge of museum practice.

Coursework offers both breadth and depth in Collections Management, Museum Management, Exhibitions and Visitor Experience, and Public Engagement. Our students come from a range of academic disciplines, from history and anthropology to art history and the natural sciences.

 

 

 


 

Graduate Virtual Open House

 

 

GRADUATE VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE: OCTOBER 18-28

Registration is open for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) Graduate Virtual Open House! The online event includes program-specific information sessions and opportunities to engage with current graduate students, faculty and our admissions team.

The Corcoran School is hosting information sessions for prospective museum studies graduate students on Wednesday, October 20 at 12 p.m.

Register to Attend

 

INFORMATION SESSIONS

 

Our Programs

 

OUR PROGRAMS

 

Graduate Certificate in Jewish Cultural Arts

The Judaic Studies Program offers a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Cultural Arts, a field of growing interest in the academic community. The graduate program equips students with the tools and context they need to infuse and sustain Jewish culture, arts and history at a variety of professional institutions.

Our graduates form the next generation of advocates and leaders in Jewish museums, community centers, advocacy organizations, foundations, summer camps and Jewish cultural arts management.

 

Dual Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Master of Arts in the Field of Museum Studies

The Departments of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and Museum Studies offer a dual bachelor of arts in classical and Near Eastern studies and master of arts in museum studies degree program. The dual program allows students to take 6 graduate credits as part of their undergraduate program, thereby decreasing the number of credits normally required for the master's degree.

All requirements for both degrees must be fulfilled.

 

Dual Bachelor of Arts with a Major in History and Master of Arts in the Field of Museum Studies

The Department of History and Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences together offer a dual bachelor of arts with a major in history and master of arts in the field of museum studies degree program. The programs allow students to take 6 graduate credits as part of their undergraduate degree, thereby decreasing the number of credits normally required for the master's. All requirements for both degrees must be fulfilled.

Students interested in the dual degree program must apply to the master's program in the spring semester of their junior year.

 

 

 

 

Our Faculty

 

OUR FACULTY

Our faculty are key to our program. Practitioners themselves, they provide an understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue successful museum careers. Our faculty are also actively involved in projects with their students.

Meet ALL Faculty

Professor Laura Schiavo

PROFESSOR LAURA SCHIAVO

Professor Schiavo is working with students to research and write a Historic Furnishing Report for the National Park Service Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site. This project is part of a cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and GW.

Professor Mary Coughlin

PROFESSOR MARY COUGHLIN

Professor Coughlin is working with conservation scientists from the Smithsonian Institution as well as a student from the Environmental and Green Chemistry program on a Columbian College Facilitating Fund project monitoring deteriorating poly (vinyl chloride) plastics.

Professor Suse Anderson

PROFESSOR SUSE ANDERSON

Professor Anderson’s research and professional focus is on the intersection of technology and culture, and particularly the impact of digital technologies on the museum.

Professor Max van Balgooy

PROFESSOR MAX VAN BALGOOY

Professor van Balgooy teaches Museum Management, Museums and Community Engagement, Managing People and Projects, and Interpretation of House Museums and Historic Sites.

 

Museum Experiences


MUSEUM EXPERIENCES

PRIYA LEWIS

My internship at the NWP was an amazing opportunity I had in the summer of 2018. 

Being a small but dynamic historic house and museum, I was not only an intern but an integral and equal contributor to the team. From accessioning, to inventorying the collection, to implementing the barcoding system and to attending a two-day workshop planning future interpretative strategy, I learnt something new every day. Donning many hats in the course of the internship, my most valuable take away from is – To take initiative, plan, and think beyond the period of your internship! Look at the big picture because your small initiative will someday go a long way, in ways you wouldn’t even imagine right away...!

Priya Lewis and cherry blossoms

Jennifer Schneider

JENNIFER SCHNEIDER

During my time as the James Lollar Hagan Exhibition Development Intern at the National Museum of American History, I was able to practice many of the evaluation methods featured in Dr. Kym Rice’s Exhibition Development class. I had the opportunity to work alongside some of the nation’s best to develop a new women’s history exhibition and to evaluate recently-opened exhibitions. I gained hands-on experience with formative and remedial evaluation methods. The different evaluations I devised and performed allowed me to learn what makes an effective evaluation and complete data analyses to create post-evaluation documents for use by exhibition teams.

Cassie Green (M.A., '19)

When Cassie Green (M.A., '19) received her acceptance to GW’s MA program in Museum Studies, she was thrilled but faced the challenge of moving across the country with her husband and five children from Boise, Idaho. 

She wanted her children to know that no goal they set for themselves was too big to accomplish, so they committed to the East coast. Cassie’s husband quit his job, they sold their house, and didn’t look back.

Since her move, Cassie has completed a directed research project and interned for both the Department of Anthropology’s Skeletal Biology Program and the Collections Program overseeing the Office of Education and Outreach collections  at the National Museum of Natural History. “It is our duty to preserve and protect [museums] for future generations,” Cassie explains. Her various work has helped to ensure that the world’s natural and cultural history is maintained for her children and the generations beyond.

photo of Cassie Green

Nicole Casart

NICOLE CASART (M.A., '21)

I have volunteered at the National Museum of Natural History since 2017 and loved volunteering in the temporary exhibition “Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend” when it was up from August 2017 through January 2020. My interactions with visitors, engagement trainings, and exposure to behind-the-scenes museum work spurred me to pursue a degree in Museum Studies with a focus on Exhibitions and Visitor Experience.  Thanks, Mr. Narwhal! 

While at GW, I have also worked at the International Spy Museum and interned at the U.S. Botanic Garden, where I researched and drafted an interpretive plan for activities to teach visitors about the evolution, biodiversity, and cultural importance of native Hawaiian plants. I am committed to thinking about how museums can make their collections and staff more representative of and accessible to the communities they serve.

Madeleine Larson (M.A., '21)

I acted as the primary processing and rehousing a collection of 19th-century Uzbek ikat coats at the GW Textile Museum. I got to know every thread and crevice of these objects, examining and cleaning them, labeling them, and rehousing them in archival supports. I was blown away by the incredible beauty and technique of the ikat coats. I had never encountered anything like it, especially not as intimately as I could in the Conservation Lab. The contrast of the competing designs and the rich colors of the ikat dyeing are exquisite. Rehousing this piece allowed me to think creatively about where to sew on a label so it was out of sight, how to fold the coat to minimize strain on the fabric, and what size the final storage product would be. As a Collections Management student, I found it a privilege to work hands on with this unique collection and fortify the Museum’s duty of care.

While at GW, I have gotten to actively engage with textiles from all around the world, from tapestries a thousand years old to modern designer fabric samples. I hope to use my Museum Studies degree and experiences to pursue ethical, sustainable, and careful collections practices. I am fascinated by collections management issues that arise from new techniques and media as art.

photo of Madeliene Larson

 

View Museum Studies M.A. Projects

 

 

WHERE OUR GRADUATES WORK

 

A roman style building

FINE AND DECORATIVE ART MUSEUMS

  • National Gallery of Art
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • J. Paul Getty Museum

A bust of a woman

HISTORY MUSEUMS AND CENTERS, HISTORICAL SOCIETIES

  • Virginia Historical Society
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Washington monument

HISTORIC SITES

  • George Washington's Mount Vernon
  • President Lincoln’s Cottage
  • Tudor Place Historic House & Garden
  • Lower East Side Tenement Museum

A tyrannosaurus skull

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUMS, SCIENCE CENTERS, AND AQUARIA

  • National Museum of Natural History
  • Field Museum (Chicago)
  • New England Aquarium

A badge with a vase and lines of text

OTHER MUSEUMS

  • Baseball Hall of Fame

A soaring falcon with a star over its head

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND SITES WASHINGTON DC (AREA)

  • United States Supreme Court
  • Historic Congressional Cemetery
  • Library of Congress

 

 

NEXT Museum Studies

 

Nicole Casart

 

 

MUSEUM STUDIES AT NEXT

NEXT is the Corcoran's annual celebration of the brilliance and promise of its students. NEXT projects may take many forms—from reflections of students in their interest area to a series of paintings. They represent a student's learning experiences at the Corcoran and a glimpse of their future promise. See the work of Museum Studies students in NEXT 2021.

Image: Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History by Nicole Casart (MA '21)

 

CONTACT US

2142 G Street, NW
[email protected] 
202-994-7030
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Program Administrator
Roxann Edwards
[email protected]

 

Program Head
Mary Coughlin
[email protected]

 

 

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