The Museums Concentration gives students a foundation in the history of museums and the critical issues they engage. Through a combination of academic coursework, practical experience, and independent research, students learn about institutions that shape knowledge and understanding through the collection, preservation, interpretation, and display of artworks, artifacts, manuscripts and archives, and historic sites.
IDP 118: History and Critical Issues of Museums
This two-credit course meets during the fall semester and is open to all students. Through a series of lectures by Smith faculty and guests, this course examines institutions that shape knowledge and understanding through the collection, preservation, interpretation, and display of material culture. In this course, students look at the emergence and history of museums and the evolution of architecture to house them. Speakers discuss the role of museums in preserving and elucidating our cultural heritage and such critical issues as the ethics of collection and display and the importance of cultural property rights.
IDP 118 is offered Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only and is required for the Museums Concentration.
IDP 300: Museums Concentration Research Capstone
This four-credit seminar is offered during the spring semester for seniors completing their culminating capstone project for the Museums Concentration. It provides a forum for students to develop the research projects that synthesize their previous coursework and practical experiences. These projects are supplemented by weekly seminar discussions during which students explore and critique the mission and work of museums and the contemporary forces that shape them. Only students participating in the Museums Concentration may register for IDP 300.
Many classes at Smith visit the Museum each semester, and several courses meet in the Museum classrooms and use its collection as an integral resource throughout the course.