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Museum and Heritage Studies

The Museum and Heritage Studies (MHS) concentration is designed to provide students with a solid background in the theoretical and academic, as well as the practical and professional aspects of museum anthropology and heritage studies.  Candidates for an M.A. degree in Anthropology with a concentration in MHS are expected to achieve graduate competence in anthropology as a whole, along with their specialization in MHS.  Ideally, we train students to be practicing anthropologists in museums and related cultural institutions.

Both generalist and specialist training in museum and heritage studies are provided for students interested in working in different sizes and types of museums, cultural institutions, archaeological and heritage sites.  The program's goal is to train museum professionals, but to also provide students with an understanding of the larger sociocultural, economic, and political contexts in which museums exist and how they influence museums and museum practices. 

Theoretical course work is complemented by hands-on training in the Museum of Anthropology (a "teaching museum"), and through supervised internships. The program emphasizes:

  • critical approaches to the study and representation of material culture, art and cultural expressions
  • the history and philosophy of museums and their role in society
  • cross-cultural approaches to museology
  • public interest anthropology

Students are expected to achieve graduate level competence in anthropology as well as museum studies. Our goal is to train students to be practicing anthropologists in museums or related institutions and organizations.

Designed for Diversity

The Museum Studies program is designed to accommodate the diverse academic and professional interests of students. Students are encouraged to be creative in structuring their own course of study, drawing on the many resources available at the University of Denver and in Denver-area museums.

The program works closely with the Museum Studies Program in Art History, offering joint courses in conservation, information technology, and museum management. Both programs benefit from institutional ties between DU and the Denver Art Museum and Denver Museum of Nature and Science, providing students with research, internship and job opportunities. Other Denver-area museums and cultural organizations offer ample internship and job opportunities. The Museum Studies program also periodically offers guided inter-term and summer study tours to expose students to museums and museological practices in diverse cultural and national settings.

Department of Anthropology colloquia and a Gallery Talk Series, which feature presentations by faculty members, students and visiting speakers, provide a forum for discussion of current issues in the field.

For Science and the Public

The Museum Studies concentration in the Department of Anthropology prepares students to be both scholars and practitioners. The program rests on the philosophy that anthropology should be in service to both science and the public, and that cultural work is an essential and valuable part of social life. Students are trained, both academically and professionally, to meet the many challenges of cultural work in contemporary society.

Course Requirements

a. All students must complete the following:

  • ANTH 3660 Anthropological Theory, Method and Practice
  • ANTH 4000 Advanced Anthropology
  • One skill - Language or Quantitative Research Methods
  • Qualifying exam
  • Thesis, Paper and Exhibit, Paper with 60 credits

b. All students must have had a practical experience including one, but not limited to one of the following: museum internship, archaeological field school or field methods class or ethnographic field work.

c. Museum and Heritage Studies track students must complete:

  • One of the following:
    • ANTH 4740 Critical Perspectives in Museum and Heritage Studies
    • ANTH 4744 Museum Anthropology
    • ANTH 4650 Archaeological Method and Theory
  • 6 of the following classes (with not more than 3 of the bold-faced courses, which are applied/practical courses):
    • ANTH 3170 Applied Heritage Management
    • ANTH 4740 Museum Anthropology
    • ANTH 4650 Archaeological Method and Theory
    • ANTH 3890 Context of Material Culture
    • ANTH 3290 Art and Anthropology
    • ANTH 3661 Learning in Museums
    • ANTH 3702 Introduction to Conservation
    • ANTH 3741 Museum Exhibit Development
    • ANTH 3743 Managing Collections
    • ANTH 3701 Expressive Culture
    • ANTH 3000 Anthropology of Tourism
    • ANTH 3040 Anthropologies of Place
    • ANTH 3060 Cultural Narratives
    • ANTH 3170 Applied Heritage Management
    • ANTH 3750 Ethnographic Methods
    • ANTH 3880 Technology and Adaptation
    • ANTH 4070 Folklore and Cultural Heritage
    • ANTH 4040 Historical Archaeology
    • ANTH xxxx Ethnoarchaeology
    • ANTH xxxx Memory and Memoralization
    • ANTH 3500 Culture and the City
    • ANTH 4745 Museum Practicum
    • ANTH 4750 Masters Exhibit/Paper

(Class titles in bold are applied/practice oriented courses.  Students are limited to taking no more than three of the bolded classes (12 credits) to count toward their requirements.)

  • Three additional elective courses in areas of special geographical or topical interest such Native America, Latin America, human rights, international development, gender studies, etc. Students may also elect to substitute courses from other departments, such as art history, geography, digital media studies, etc., but only with prior approval from their adviser and the graduate adviser.

Please review the 2012-2013 Museum and Heritage Studies Handbook and the 2012-2013 Graduate Student Handbook for detailed degree requirements.