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Museum and Heritage Studies Curriculum

The Museum and Heritage Studies major is a distinctively interdisciplinary program that introduces students to a rich variety of approaches for presenting and studying visual and material culture.

The program is designed for a broad range of students in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences.

Majors will take core courses in museum and heritage studies, and select from supporting courses in several departments. Courses in the major encourage the development of fresh perspectives and practical skills, and are taught by museum professionals at Randolph College and its faculty in archaeology, art history, biology and history who have developed a special interest in tangible cultural heritage.

The senior program features an exhibition broadly defined, designed and executed by each major.

The program is based on Randolph College’s world-class Maier Museum of Art and the College’s notable natural history, archaeology, and ancient collections, and has a strong commitment to hands-on, experiential learning in and out of the classroom.

Majors are required to complete at least two internships. Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, and other local and regional historical and archaeological sites, as well as a variety of archives, collections, and museums give students access to exceptional resources for research and career exploration. The program also capitalizes on Randolph College’s impressive range of internships and fieldwork with professional organizations in the US and abroad, including the Preservation Institute Nantucket and the Archaeological Conservation Institute (Italy).

Bachelor of Arts in Business

The business program  equips students with both theoretical knowledge and practical learning. 

Whether planning to enter the job market immediately after graduation or pursuing an advanced degree, such as an M.B.A. or an M.P.A., students will be prepared for the challenge.

The business program offers courses that provide excellent pre-professional training.

The courses allow students to acquire technical and analytical skills by using statistics, spreadsheets, and computers; to learn to collect and analyze data from the Internet’s domestic and global sources; to gain valuable insight into the theory, philosophy, and history of business and economics; to learn to conduct independent research; and to acquire presentation skills.

Business Minor

The business minor provides students with exposure to a number of key areas including: accounting, business policy, finance, international business, the legal environment, management, and marketing. 

Many students choose to combine the business minor with other fields of study, such as economics, international studies, or philosophy, giving them a unique combination of knowledge and experience.

Course Offerings

Below is a list of available courses offered by the Museum and Heritage Studies program. Consult the Registrar’s Office and the College Catalog for registration information.

MUHS 1112 - Natural History Collections

An introduction to natural history as a way of understanding the earth's biotic and abiotic diversity. Special attention will be paid to the scientific, cultural, and historical development of natural history collections and to the importance of these collections. Students will use the Randolph College collections and nature preserves as resources for interdisciplinary, hands-on natural history investigations. Hours credit: 4.

MUHS 2201 - Collections Management

This course focuses on information management and care of objects under a museum's purview. Topics include acquisitions, cataloging and documentation using physical and electronic systems, storage and access, proper handling of objects, preventative conservation, and security measures. Students will be engaged in practical, hands-on training utilizing the collections of the Maier Museum of Art and the Natural History and Archaeology Collections. Hours credit: 2. Prerequisite: ARTH 2261.

MUHS 2262 - Museum Education

This course focuses on the educational role of the museum. Students will put learning theories into practice by developing interpretive tools and activities. Topics include educational theory, audience characteristics, visitor studies, exhibition interpretation, object-based teaching, marketing, community and school partnerships, and digital technologies. The Maier Museum of Art and the Natural History and Archaeology Collections will be utilized. Fieldtrips included. Hours credit: 4. Prerequisite: ARTH 2261.

MUHS 3301 - Topics In Museum & Heritage Studies

Concentrated readings and discussion on a specific theme or themes in museum and heritage studies. Themes/topics will vary from year to year. Hours credit: 4. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor.

MUHS 4494 - Senior Program

The senior seminar for this interdisciplinary major has two major objectives: to give students an understanding of contemporary issues in heritage studies, especially those relevant to the fields of archaeology, art history, history, and natural history, and to guide students in the preparation of their capstone projects. Hours credit: 4. Prerequisite: MUHS 3301 and senior standing.

Previous Special Topics Courses

MUHS 3301 – Heritage & Classical Legacy

This course studies the forms of classical architecture developed in ancient Greece and later modified by the ancient Romans, known by extant examples and the treatise by Vitruvius. We will explore how later cultures responded to the forms, meanings, and appropriate uses of the Classical orders, and adapted them to their own needs. At the heart of this endeavor is the question why? What makes the architectural vocabulary of the Classical world so enduring and resonant? Part of the answer may be found in UNESCO’s world heritage process which evaluates the universality of cultural sites as a criteria for inclusion on their list. We will consider the processes of determining heritage, which function as a mirror, reflecting back to us the globally acknowledged value and meaning of this architectural tradition. Hours credit: 4. Prerequisite: ARTH 101 and junior standing, or permission of the instructor.

MUHS 3301 – Race and Public Memory

MUHS 3301 – Museums, Communities, and Social Justice

Courses for the Major from Other Departments

ARTH 1101 – Art, Culture, and Society Before 1400

This course introduces the student to the field of art history by giving an understanding of the major developments in a variety of forms of artistic expression as these are related to the unfolding of history. The course pursues the establishment of the Western artistic canon by the Greeks and Romans, its development over the course of the Middle Ages, and concludes with the Early Renaissance. Hours credit: 4.

ARTH 1102 – Art, Culture, and Society After 1400

What can be learned about culture through art? Explore history through this survey of European and American art from the Renaissance to the present by artists such as Michelangelo, van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol. Examine artworks in their historical, religious, and cultural contexts to discover what meanings and messages they conveyed at the time of their creation. Hours credit: 4.

HIST 1111 – Introduction to Public History

What is public history, and why does it matter? Who authors the narratives found on historical markers, memorials, and in museum exhibits? How do these public media shape our collective consciousness? This course draws from the historical, theoretical, and practical applications of the field through readings, discussions, lectures, field trips, and experiential learning. Students will learn the art of historical storytelling, while gaining hands-on experience by curating a small exhibit. Hours credit: 4.

ARTH 2261 – Introduction to Museum Studies

This course explores the history, philosophy, and functions of museums in society and the socio-cultural meanings embodied in such institutions. Students interpret and critically examine museum collections and exhibitions, and are introduced to the various facets of museum work including curating, education, conservation and management. Special focus is placed on the exhibitions and programs of the Maier Museum of Art. Field trips required. Hours credit: 4. Prerequisites ARTH 1101 or 1102.

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