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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a concentration?

A concentration gives students a way to organize a combination of intellectual and practical experiences around an area of interest. By declaring a concentration, students receive focused advising to help them design a program in their area of interest and they receive recognition in the form of a certificate issued at graduation.

Why isn't it called a minor?

The concentration allows for more flexibility than is possible within an academic minor. Specifically:

Can I pursue the Museums Concentration with a double major or a minor?

In some cases students may choose to pursue the Museums Concentration in addition to a second major or a minor. This would occur when the concentration serves to logically unify and reinforce a particular program of study. For example, a student with an art history major and an education minor might elect to do the minimal additional coursework for the Museums Concentration, with focus in museum education. Such decisions should be made in consultation with the student's adviser, and must be approved by the Museums Concentration Advisory Committee.

How do I apply?

Fill out the application form:

Students are encouraged to apply in their sophomore year, and applications will not be accepted from first-year students. The application deadline is December 1; decisions and notification will be made by the start of the spring semester.

Do I need to be an art major to do a Museums Concentration?

No. The Museums Concentration has the flexibility to support any discipline relevant to museums or other kinds of collecting institutions, or it can be pursued independent of a student's major. Majors particularly compatible with the Museums Concentration include anthropology, American studies, art, chemistry, education and history. Students interested in exploring the museum applications for their discipline, such as a branch of the sciences, can choose electives to tailor their concentration.

In addition to the Smith College Museum of Art, Smith's campus includes many special collections that can provide students with valuable exposure to the work of managing collections, including the Botanic Gardens; the College Archives, the Mortimer Rare Book Room, and Sophia Smith Collection within the library, as well as other library collections; and the Historic Clothing Collection in the theater department. The diverse museums within the Five College community expand the types of institutions easily accessible to students including the Amherst College Museum of Natural History, the Emily Dickinson Museum & Homestead, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Historic Deerfield, Historic Northampton, and the National Yiddish Book Center, as well as the other college art museums within the Five Colleges.

What kinds of practical experiences can count toward the Museums Concentration?

The Smith College Career Development Office and the staff of the Smith College Museum of Art can provide information on potential museum-based work experiences, but it is the student's responsibility to arrange for two relevant practical experiences. As a general rule, students will be expected to apply for Praxis funding for one of their practical experiences. Possibilities for meeting this requirement include, but are not limited to:

If I have taken AMS 411 Exhibiting Culture: An Introduction to Museum Studies in America as part of my participation in the Smithsonian Program, can that count toward the required courses instead of MUX 118?

Yes.

If my major requires a senior research seminar can that count toward the requirement for a research capstone project for the Museums Concentration?

No. The Museums Concentration research capstone must be taken in addition to any senior research seminar required for your major.

Do the requirements for the Museums Concentration meet the preparatory requirements for admission to graduate school for study in such areas as art history, museum education, or art conservation?

No. While completing the Museums Concentration will help you prepare for graduate study in those areas, in each case there are more extensive requirements for admission to graduate school (see Resources for information on preparing for graduate study in art conservation).

How will having completed the Museums Concentration help me after graduation?

The Museums Concentration provides a unique opportunity at the undergraduate level for students to consider how their academic studies might connect to their future lives and careers. Through focused practical experiences that build on what they are learning in the classroom, students will develop valuable professional skills. After investigating a variety of career paths, they will graduate with a clear understanding of their next options. Studying the complex history of museums also provides a fascinating window onto the wider world in which we live. Students are introduced to issues such as community access, cultural ownership, and public accountability—areas of study that will be important whatever they decide to do after leaving Smith.