Critical Museum Studies MA

Art gallery
Cravens Collection display
Anderson Gallery

What is Critical Museum Studies?

Critical Museum Studies offers a theoretically informed and politically engaged perspective on the current museum field.

Critical Museum Studies is a pre-professional interdisciplinary MA program under the aegis of three programmatic sponsors and core departments/programs: Anthropology, Art, and Arts Management. Students are required to take courses in each of the three core programs thereby insuring that an interdisciplinary perspective is built into the program.

The museum world is in the midst of new pressures and is struggling with shifting paradigms, attempting to negotiate perhaps the most seismic changes since its 19th century origins. Today, as museums negotiate a digital shift in a newly globalized museum world, a host of new pressures have arisen. The demands of social media and edutainment as well as digital heritage and repatriation are among only the most visible of these rapidly shifting paradigms. As private capital increasingly pours into the new genre of the private or single benefactor museums, traditional city museums are correspondingly impoverished. A series of recent “culture wars” turned on museum exhibitions, making the museum not only the newly politicized arbiter of official culture, but placing it in the cross hairs of as yet unresolved cultural skirmishes. Adding to these woes, newly vocal populations are beginning to question their invisibility within traditional museums, even as new “identity” oriented museums continue to develop.

A newly emerged for-profit museum model, with vastly different standards of educational import, and even historical accuracy, is drawing visitors who view the museum exclusively in terms of entertainment. Even some non-profit museums have begun to operate as entertainment complexes. Increasingly communities view museums as an integral part of the local economy, a reliable generator of tourist dollars, increasing the pressure on museums to be more widely popular and less the preserve of the specialist. Yet even as new museums proliferate, these pressures go largely unaddressed.

The MA in Critical Museums Studies, a new museum studies degree for the 21st Century, will instead place these issues front and center.

MA Program Plan

The MA will consist of a minimum of 36 credit hours and will be entirely self-funded. No TA support is available for this program. All students will be required to take 3 core courses in the three core departments/programs, write a thesis and participate in a practicum/ internship program in one of the core departments/programs.

Core Courses - 9 Credit Hours

Choose 1 course from each list:

List 1: Anthropology Courses
APY 514 Museum Management
APY 618 Cultural Heritage
CL 580    Roman Ceramics & Small Finds
List 2: Arts Management Courses
AAP 518 Issues in Museum Management
AAP 519 Critical Questions Concerning Museums
List 3: Visual Studies Courses
VS 501 Intro to Visual Studies
VS 521 Critical Theory

Electives - 12 Credit Hours

Choose courses from the three participating departments:

Anthropology  
APY 504 Design Material Culture
APY 509 Classic Ethnographies
APY 527 Anthropological Ethics
APY 540 History of Archaeology
APY 572 Archaeology Today
APY 597 Anthropology and the Arts
APY 610 Method & Theory
APY 652 Survey in Old World Archaeology
Arts Management
AAP 507 Arts Management for Not for Profits
AAP 508 Cultural Policy
AAP 521 Cultural Production
AAP 585 Legal Issues in Arts Management
AAP 586 Law and IP: Arts Management
Visual Studies
VS 505 Performance Art: History, Theory and Institutionalization
VS 534 Body Criticism
VS 550 Art and Psychoanalysis
VS 579 The Revolutionary Sublime
VS 580 Discourse and Deconstruction
VS 587 Vision, Space and Power
VS 590 Theories of Montage
AHI 548 History of Photography
AHI 585 The Museum and the Other
AHI 586 Another Reading, Another Context: Global Museum Display of Contemporary Asian Art
AHI 588 Displaying Gender: Constructing Masculinities and Feminisms in Museum Exhibitions
AHI 592 Studies in Modern Art
ART 502 Tactical Media (Studio Art)
ART 562 Installation Urban Space (Studio Art)
ART 564 Biological Art (Studio Art)
ART 573 Performative Action (Studio Art)
Other Electives
May be chosen in consultation with program directors to satisfy 12 credit elective requirement in any of the three concentrations.
Media Study Courses
DMS 505 Ethnographic Media
DMS 512 Film and Media Theory
DMS 515 Film and Media Theory II
DMS 528 Social Web Media
DMS 545 Gender and Technology
DMS 557 Locative Media and the City
DMS 558 Media Curating
DMS 570 Media Philosophy
DMS 605 Media Theory and Poetics
Classics Courses
CL 506    Problems in Greek Archaeology
CL 787    Special Topics

Independent Study - 3 Credit Hours

Choose 1 three-credit hour independent study from any of the three departments:

AAP 599 Independent Study
APY 601 Individual Readings in Archaeology or  APY 602 Individual Readings in Cultural Anthropology
VS 595   Independent Study: Advanced Reading

Internship - 6 Credit Hours

AAP 511 Fieldwork in Arts Management
APY 538 Fieldwork
AHI  598 The Politics of Museums in New York or  Museum Studies Insternship

Master's Thesis - 6 Credit Hours

Register with the department of enrollment:

Anthropology:  APY 600 MA Project/Thesis Guidance
Arts Management:  AAP 513 Thesis Guidance
Visual Studies:  VS 598 Thesis Guidance

Program Admission

February 15 is the application deadline. Applications received after February 15 will be considered on a rolling basis, thus to maximize your chances for admission submit your application before February 15.

ADMISSION QUALIFICATIONS:

A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA (or equivalent) of 3.2 or above unless a compelling explanation justifies a lower GPA. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required.

Application Instructions:

Complete the Application

The entire application process is online at the Interactive Graduate Application Site. Please select “Critical Museum Studies (MA)” from the pull-down menu under “Select Degree Program.” 

Submit All Application Documents

You should not have to send in any hard copies of your materials. Be sure to attach (upload) the following documents in your online application:

  1. Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  2. Statement of Intent: This should describe your preparation (academic and related work/life experience) and motivation for graduate study in Critical Museum Studies. Describe areas of focus that you are interested in pursuing, career objectives, and any other information that may be helpful to admissions committee.
  3. Writing Sample: A well-written paper from an undergraduate course. This is a critical component of the application.
  4. Copies of Transcripts (Official transcripts will be required upon acceptance to the program.)
  5. Three Letters of Reference: The reference letters should preferably be written by former professors or museum professionals, should attest to your ability, level of maturity, and readiness for graduate level Critical Museum Studies. When you submit your references’ email addresses they will receive an automatic electronic solicitation. It is crucial that you provide a viable email address for each referee. You may wish to notify them in advance so that they can have their letter ready to upload.  Please note that your recommenders will only receive this solicitation after you have submitted your application for final review.  As such, we recommend that you plan to finalize your application prior to the deadline.

Pay the Application Fee

When you have finished your online application you must “submit it for final review” and pay the application fee ($75) before the application will be available to our faculty for review.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS:

To be reviewed for admission you must fill out the online application for international students, provide all of the supplemental materials listed above, and upload the additional documentation to your application before the application deadline.

International applicants must also provide the following:

  1. Complete the Financial Form with supporting bank documents;
  2. Officially verified TOEFL score from ETS;
  3. English translation of transcript;
  4. Proof of degree; and
  5. Copy of passport.

Please contact our department for more information about the program.

Peter Biehl

Professor, Department of Anthropology; Director of Studies, Critical Museum Studies

380 MFAC, Ellicott Complex

Phone: (716) 645-0407

Email: pbiehl@buffalo.edu

Maria Portera

Graduate Program Coordinator

Department of Anthropology

380 MFAC, Ellicott Complex

Phone: (716) 645-6242

Email: mportera@buffalo.edu