Museum Studies

Authored by: Marjorie Schwarzer

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Defined at its most basic level, “museum studies” sometimes referred to as “museology” or “museum science” is the study of museums. Since its origins in the early 1900s, its development has been tied to ongoing discussions within associations like the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the International Council on Museums (ICOM) about how best to train those who work in professional roles in museums. Beyond its emphasis on practical training, museum studies scholarship also explores museums’ cultural, political, and historical roles within society. Universities and other research institutions, like the Smithsonian and the Getty, offer a range of museum studies courses, graduate degrees, workshops, research, and publications. There is debate about how to approach the study of museums. The entry below offers discussion on these issues from a historical perspective. It largely focuses on the United States, although it should be noted that museum studies programs and scholarship exist around the world. Given the complexity of the museum field and museum studies and the number of individuals who have made contributions to its advancement, the discussion below is by no means exhaustive or complete.

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