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Museum Studies - Overview


Museum studies programs prepare people to maintain and display historical items in exhibits. Students learn to manage archives and collections. They prepare to work as curators, museum technicians, or museum directors. They may learn how to restore artwork and other items.

Think about the last time you visited a museum. You probably walked through spacious rooms filled with light and carefully maintained items: perhaps artwork, or skeletons from our ancestors, or the first telephone ever invented. You can probably tell that people who work in museums have a deep respect for the past and for what we can learn from the past.

But contrary to popular belief, museums are not always about the past. If you've ever been to a science museum and had fun with its interactive exhibits, you know that a museum can be a great place to learn things that experts know now.

There are many things you have to learn to work in museum. To be a curator, you have to learn how to manage items in collections and put together exhibits. Likewise, technicians must learn how to preserve items. Museum directors need to learn the nuts and bolts of running a nonprofit organization. And all of these museum professionals need to learn more about the subject of their museum. Contemporary photography, botany, Civil War history – the list could stretch on indefinitely!

There are several colleges and universities that offer master's degrees or advanced certificates in museum studies. Some of these programs are tied to programs in museum-related disciplines.

For example, you could focus on both archeology and museum studies at the same time. Depending on the school, this could lead to one of two results. You could get a joint master's degree in archeology and museum studies, or you could get a master's degree in archeology and a certificate in museum studies. Either way, you would typically need five to six years of full-time study after high school.

Some certificate programs are not necessarily tied to a program in another area of study. However, schools with these programs are for people who already have a degree in another field. So if you include the time needed to get a bachelor's or master's degree, earning a certificate also takes five to six years of full-time study after high school.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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