The Department of the History of Art and Architecture has established a new Museum Studies emphasis for its undergraduate major.
The emphasis combines specialized courses with selective internships at the Art, Design & Architecture (ADA) Museum to give students a more broad education on museum-related careers. The emphasis has three main components: lower and upper division courses and seminars specific to the Museum Studies emphasis, internship opportunities, which are provided by the ADA Museum and two courses taken outside of the department to provide an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of Museum Studies.
Director of the Museum Studies emphasis and a lecturer in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Carole Paul said the emphasis will focus on the multiple facets of museum studies, which include emphasizes on historical, theoretical, operational and ideological aspects of art and architecture.
“Many students in Art History are asking, ‘What am I going to do with a degree in Art History?’ and this is kind of a practical answer,” Paul said. “Through the internships and by giving students a broader knowledge about museums, they can begin thinking about a career path.”
Paul said while most museum studies programs in the country are graduate programs with narrow foci, the new emphasis has an advantage in that it allows students to begin museum work as undergraduates.
“With museum work, the sooner you’re introduced to it, the better. I myself had internships as an undergraduate. I went to Barnard College in New York, and I had an internship at the Guggenheim Museum, and I had internships in graduate school,” Paul said. “It’s a great way to learn about these fields; you can use your knowledge of Art History and find out what kind of jobs there really are out there.”
Intern supervisor of the ADA Museum program Mary McGuire said internship experience is beneficial for students seeking employment at museums.
“It’s my job, and the other people at the museum, it’s their job too, to write letters if someone wants one,” McGuire said. “If they’ve been an intern and they’ve shown their dedication to the museum, they’ll get a good letter by the end of their internship.”
Acting director of the ADA Museum and History of Art and Architecture professor E. Bruce Robertson said the internships provided by the new emphasis give students the chance to make personal connections with professors.
“One of the things that’s a little hard at UCSB because it’s a big university is to have a really personalized education experience,” Robertson said. “So one of the incentives of being an intern at the Museum is that it offers an intensely personalized experience. You’re working very, very closely with knowledgeable professionals.”
McGuire said he recently traveled to Los Angeles for a tour provided by Robertson, who used to work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
“He gave us an amazing tour about a painter who he’s very well acquainted with, who he’s written about a lot, named Marsden Hartley, and his exhibition was up at LACMA,” McGuire said. “So we got this tour from Professor Robertson that was absolutely first-hand knowledge, both of the collection — where it came from, the setting in which it was installed in the museum — and the history of the painter.”
Paul said she has been working with local museums, galleries and arts organizations such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and the Arts Fund to create internships for students.
“The Museum on campus has a great internship program, but also my aim with this emphasis is to give students as many options as possible,” Paul said. “So we have options within the community here in Santa Barbara, such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Historical Museum, the Arts Fund, and students can even do it further afield in Los Angeles.”
Paul also said there are many departments with courses that relate to the Museum Studies emphasis, as outlined in the Museum Studies prospectus.
“History, as I said, Sociology, Geography, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Religious Studies even art works very well,” Paul said. “So I think that there are lots of other majors that compliment this really well.”