The Best Public History Museum Studies Program Ever

Ed. Note: Since our director-curator T.H. Gray went here, he feels this program best prepares students for a career in the museum field. Which is why he made us post this.

 The Peale-Barnum Public History Museum Studies Program is the most honest graduate program of its kind. Our two semester program prepares students for the ideals and realities of the public history and museum fields.

During the first semester we introduce you to the core values of the museum field.

During the second semester we teach you what’s really important.

We promise that the experiences you have with us will haunt you for the rest of your career.

Applying: We accept most applicants (we have bills to pay, you know).

Financial Aid: Try to get grants or borrow money from your family. If possible, avoid loans. Otherwise you will end up living with either your parents or several roommates.

Faculty & Staff: Our faculty and staff can share with you their version of the ideal museum, no matter how impractical or naive.

Curriculum: We don’t offer classes, we host workshops (See below for a selection of our workshops). Our workshops will provide you with practical, hands-on experience which will prepare you for the real work that goes on at most museums.

Degree: You can choose to pursue a master of arts degree or a certificate. We suggest the masters, since our museum studies certificate is designed to benefit our bank account more than your career (museums rarely, if ever, advertise for someone with a graduate certificate. sorry).

Post-Graduation: What happens after graduation is not our concern. Besides disappointment and unemployment are part of the museum profession and you should get used to them as quickly as possible. Since it’s not part of your tuition, consider this a free lesson, our parting gift to you. However, no matter what happens after graduation, please don’t forget to send your annual alumni donation.

Here is a small sampling of our more important workshops:

You Are Not God’s Gift To Museums (Mandatory Both Semesters).

How To Appear Interested When a Visitor Shares His/Her Rambling (and Contradictory) Recollections.

No Matter How Much You Know About Their History, You’ll Never Be Part Of Their Town Because You Weren’t Born There.

Research In Your Spare Time, Because You Have More Important Things To Do At Work.

How To Steal Other Museum’s Ideas and Pass Them Off As Your Own So You Look Like a Genius.

(followed immediately by)

Just Because Some Other Museum Is Doing It Successfully Doesn’t Mean We’re Going To Try It.

Technology Doesn’t Mean Easy.

Curators & Historians: You Can Hire Consultants For That.

Choose Wisely: The Bigger Your Salary the Less Your Job Probably Has To Do With Art, History, Or Science.

The Smaller the Museum the Older Everyone Around You Will Be.

Brooms, Dustpans, and Toilet Brushes: How They Work.

How To Casually Mention Your Masters Degree As Often As Possible.

Sometimes It’s Not Your Experience Or Ability That Matters, It’s Your Age.

Shut Up and Be Happy You Even Have a Job In The Field.

Museum Time: We Take Decades To Get Even the Simplest Things Done.

Situational Museum Ethics: When To Care and When Not To (Hint: It’s All About the Money).

Board Management: You Will (Most Likely) Outlive Them.

How to Convince Others Your Idea is Really Theirs.

History Doesn’t Sell or Despite your Idealism We Still Need Money.

They’ll Hire You Saying They Want Something New and Different, But What They Really Want Is Familiar and Safe.

How To Set Up and Take Down Folding Furniture.

Grants Are Not ATM Machines.

Although Your Job Description Ends With the Innocuous Phrase, “and Other Duties As Assigned,” That Will Be Your Actual Job.

Tent Erecting For Special Events.

Just Because You’re Fascinated By Something, Doesn’t Mean Visitors Will Be.

Even Though They Hired You, They’ll Believe a Consultant First.

How To Make Coffee In an Urn.

Your Programming Needs To Include Zombies Somehow, Otherwise It Will Be a Zombie – In the World But Dead To the Rest Of Us.

You May Compare the Museum Field Favorably To the Medical Profession, But No One Else Does.

Being a Director Is All About Math and Meetings.

Based On How People Value Museums, You ARE Earning What You’re Worth.

You will notice that we don’t spend a lot of time on curatorial practice because you can go to the NPS Publications site or use the internet to identify major architectural and furniture styles when you need to.

As for how to write the perfect exhibit, win a grant, work with your colleagues and board, or navigate the politics inherent in museums, grad schools, with their controlled and supportive environments, can never teach that.

About T.H. Gray

T.H. Gray is the self-appointed court jester and Dr. Demento for the history museum field. A lifelong museum professional and reenactor, he is a graduate of the prestigious Peale-Barnum Public History Museum Studies Program. Until 2011, when the AHS hired him away, he was on staff at the Benjamin Dover Memorial Museum & Swimming Pool ("Our History is All Wet!"). He remembers when museums were still about history, science, and art. BTW, all of these posts say they are by T.H. Gray because he can't turn off the byline. Credit, when due, is given. View all posts by T.H. Gray

14 responses to “The Best Public History Museum Studies Program Ever

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