The Certificate Program in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture augments
graduate work in American Studies, Anthropology, Historic Preservation,
and History by training students to understand the particular challenges,
issues, and opportunities encountered when conducting and presenting material
culture scholarship in the museum environment. The program takes advantage
of close collaboration with the world’s largest museum establishment,
the Smithsonian Institution. Core courses are taken at the Smithsonian
with the participation of Smithsonian staff. The certificate aims to equip
students with skills for research, scholarship, and presentation that
are appropriate to museums of history, culture, and material life. It
is not directed toward museum administration or care of collections, nor
does it deal directly with issues specifically pertaining to art or natural
Students in this four course program will begin with
a required core of three courses. The first is an introductory seminar
at the Smithsonian, in which general issues of historical and material
culture scholarship in museums are discussed through readings, investigative
projects, and site visits to specific exhibitions. This course is followed
by a research seminar in which students select research topics drawing
on museum resources at the Smithsonian or other appropriate institutions,
and prepare and present an extended study. The third museum-based course
is the program’s practicum in which students work closely with a
museum curator or specialist on a research project that demonstrates the
student’s mastery of museum materials and approaches.
The fourth course for the certificate
is a seminar in the student’s home department that deals with major
scholarly issues in material culture, as approached by the home discipline.
This may include seminars in American material culture, the history of
technology, cultural resource management, ethnology, or cultural analysis.
HIST 610/AMST 655: Introduction to Museum Scholarship
Introduction to key issues involved in the study of history and material
culture in museums, taught at the Smithsonian’s National Museum
of American History. Topics include the history of museums, the theory
of collections, exhibition strategies, and artifact-based research and
controversies, both public and scholarly, involving museum-based scholarship
HIST 810/AMST 856: Museum Research Seminar (3
In consultation with seminar leaders from UMCP and SI, students will select
research topics that investigate key issues in museum-based scholarship
and demonstrate their ability to research and prepare an extended research
project. The project will be presented publicly at the completion of the
HIST 811/AMST 857: Museum Scholarship Practicum
Students will devise and carry out a research program using collections
at the Smithsonian or another approved institution, and will work under
joint supervision of a Smithsonian staff member and UMCP faculty member.
Students already in the program should arrange the practicum with a museum
professional in consultation with their certificate program advisor.
The fourth course will focus on material culture or closely-related
studies as pursued by the student’s host discipline. Examples include:
ANTH 448P/689P (Theories of the Past); AMST 650 (Material Culture Studies
Theory); AMST 851 (Interpretation of Cultural Landscapes); HISP 600 (History,
Theory & Contemporary Issues in Historic Preservation); HIST 406 (History
of Technology); HIST 407 (Technology and Social Change in History); or
appropriate offerings of HIST 609 in history of technology).
For more information, contact Dr. Mary Corbin Sies,
Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of Graduate Studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Dr. Robert Friedel, Professor of History, at email@example.com, or Dr. Judith Freidenberg, Associate Professor of Anthropology, at firstname.lastname@example.org.