New Minor: Museum Studies
I am so excited to have this new Museum Studies minor at Westminster College! Museums are such an important part of our socio-cultural environment that the National Churchill Museum and Westminster College’s History Department felt it necessary to create this new minor.
To me, museums share the responsibility of preserving and interpreting our cultural heritage. But, museums are more than just a building that houses objects. They are also made up of the people that work daily to ensure that history is preserved and shared, to create knowledge and to share information and experiences with the world.
My start in the museum field professionally began in graduate school. While in the Folk Studies department at Western Kentucky University, I was lucky enough to intern at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. As a member of the public programs department, I developed both a Boy Scout Patch Program and a Family Activity Guide. That experience paved the way for my future in cultural heritage – and I am glad to continue my journey in this field at Westminster and the National Churchill Museum.
“Museums have a basic role as educational institutions. The saga of the earth through time is told by the objects preserved in the collections of museums. It is a fascinating story told with authentic specimens and artifacts. At the same time, it is important to remember that museums are not ends unto themselves. To accomplish their mission, they must provide pleasure and excitement as well as information and education.”
– Edson and Dean, The Handbook for Museums
The Museum Studies minor at Westminster looks to provide students with an introduction the museum world. Through exploration, students gain an understanding of the museum as institution and an understanding of the challenges and responsibilities that museums and their staff members encounter.
While housed within the History Department, the minor is open to students from all educational majors and cultural backgrounds. There are four museum-centered courses within the minor. These courses are predominately taught by me, with guest lecturers, field trips, and hands-on exploration supplementing the academic materials. Anyone interested in the museum or cultural heritage/tourism field is encouraged to talk with the History Department or myself about the minor.
“Introduction to Museum Work,” the foundation course for the minor, is being offered during the 2014 ‘Seize the Summer’ program (June 2-July 11, 2014). This is a great introduction class that begins the conversation of what museums are, their purpose, and the different kinds of career opportunities. If you think you might be interested in a museum or museum related career, I encourage you to take this class. It also won’t be offered again until fall 2016.
~ Mandy Plybon, Education & Public Programs Coordinator, National Churchill Museum