Museum Scholarship & Material Culture

Certificate Program in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture

Students in this twelve (12)-hour program will take 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 final 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.

Further information can be found on the website of the

The Program

HIST 610/AMST 655: Introduction to Museum Scholarship (3 hrs.) 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 and presentation.

HIST 810/AMST 856: Museum Research Seminar (3 hrs.) Prerequisite: Introduction to Museum Scholarship or permission of instructor In consultation with seminar leaders from the university and the Smithsonian, 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 seminar.

HIST 811/AMST 857: Museum Scholarship Practicum (3-6 hrs.) Prerequisite: Museum Research Seminar or permission of instructor 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 university faculty member.

The fourth course will focus on material culture or closely-related studies as pursued by the student's host discipline (e.g., ANTH 448P/689P, "Theories of the Past," AMST 650, "Material Culture Studies Theory," or appropriate offerings of HIST 609 in history of technology).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting, Dr. Ricardo L. Punzalan, Phone: 301-405-6518 or via email at