Museum Operations


Units: 6


Museums share a responsibility for presenting, preserving, and interpreting arts, culture, history, and heritage for the benefit of the public and society. Yet, each museum has its own unique set of challenges and complexities, managed by a team of staff and board members who all share in the delivery of a museum’s mission, vision, and values. In this course, students will gain an understanding of what a museum is and how it is managed, exploring various operational processes including best practices and organizational structure, collections stewardship, public program management, economic sustainability, and risk management. Special topics will cover case study models, roles and responsibilities of museum leadership, collections care and ethical considerations, visitor and auxiliary services, and trends. A range of museum types will also be highlighted, including art museums, natural history museums, children’s museums, science centers, craft centers, and others. Course work will require students to make connections between theory, practice, and implementation, ultimately providing insight into the many factors inherent in running a museum in the 21st century.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Classify museum types, locate resources, and articulate key concepts in museum operations and management
  2. Identify Characteristics of Excellence for U.S. Museums based on the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) national standards and best practices
  3. Analyze the museum visitors’ experience and examine its alignment with the museum’s mission, mandate, and programs
  4. Examine best practices in collections management including policies, procedures, and ethics in collecting, preserving, and presenting collections
  5. Assess facility needs, risk management, and security issues unique to museum operations and management
  6. Examine programs, visitor services, and auxiliary operations in deepening public engagement in the museum
  7. Understand earned revenue opportunities for museums to be financially sustainable 
  8. Understand recent critiques of museums and interpret museum trends including the role museums play in civic matters
  9. Examine a 21st century museum management challenge and formulate a plan to address this challenge

Prerequisites Description:

No pre-requisite.