As centers of research and education, and as repositories for cultural heritage, museums play an important role in our society. The museum studies interdisciplinary area provides students with a structure through which to learn about museums as a complement to both their major and the liberal arts as a whole. In addition, museums and related institutions provide career opportunities that take full advantage of a liberal arts degree. Museum professionals must be able to gain expertise in diverse areas, they must enjoy both independent research and interaction with the public, they must be both creative and analytical, and they must be able to operate within (and even to run) complex and often under-funded organizations.
The museum studies interdisciplinary area is designed to introduce students to the historical and theoretical foundations of museums and other preservation and research institutions, as well as to provide them with the practical skills and knowledge needed to work in such institutions. It is intended to be a supplement to a major in any area. This IA will have a clear use for students in such fields as anthropology, art, art history, natural sciences, and history, but students across the divisions will find the interdisciplinary area useful if they have an interest in pursuing a career in the museum field.