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March 17, 2009

Smith College Launches New Undergraduate Concentration

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College recently introduced the Museums Concentration, a distinctive offering at the undergraduate level, and one that will provide students with an intellectual framework for understanding the field of museums.

The plan of study draws on the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of more than 23,000 original works of art, the college’s rich liberal arts curriculum, and the depth and breadth of resources within the Five College consortium.

“Students pursuing the concentration will weave together academic coursework, practical experience and independent research to achieve an understanding of the history and work of  museums,” said Jessica Nicoll, director of the Smith College Museum of Art. “Providing this framework will allow students to tailor an experience to their specific interests.”

Annually, 15 undergraduates will be accepted to the program, with the first participating students admitted for the 2009-10 academic year. Each will be required to take five courses in prescribed areas, pursue two practical experiences and complete a capstone research project during their senior year.

Students are not required to be art majors to be accepted to the concentration, which can be accomplished in tandem with the academic requirements for their majors and minors, according to Nicoll.

The concentration responds to the college’s interest in helping students negotiate the open curriculum, which does not assign any course requirements beyond those necessary to complete a major or minor.

It also provides students a depth of information about museums that is more typical at the graduate level, according to Nicoll. “Through focused practical experiences that build on what they are learning in the classroom, students will develop a nuanced understanding of the cultural role and contribution of museums as well as valuable professional skills.”

In addition to the Smith College Museum of Art, the campus includes many special collections that expose students to the work of managing collections. Those include the Botanic Garden, the Archives, Sophia Smith Collection and Mortimer Rare Book Room. Other resources on and off campus include the Smith Theatre Department’s Costume Collection, and the institutions within the Museums10 consortium.

“Smith alumnae have been a force in the museum world for decades," noted John Davis, associate provost. "Our new Museums Concentration will ensure that future generations of museum professionals have the benefits of a liberal arts education as well as exposure to Smith’s unparalleled collections in history and the arts.”

Students in the program will be assigned an adviser from the concentration’s Advisory Committee, which is made up of both faculty members and museum staff.

Applications are due each spring by March 15; decisions and notifications will be made by April 15. Students are encouraged to apply for the concentration by the spring semester of their sophomore year.

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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