Although IPAMAA does not require museum experience for the degree, most students work with the collections of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at some point in their graduate career (either as part of a class or on a volunteer basis). The Kelsey’s collection of approximately 100,000 objects, 25,000 photographs, and extensive archives of excavation records and letters are often mined for exhibitions, research projects, and a variety of outreach activities. Working in the Museum offers students an unusual and rewarding experience, helping them develop skills that complement those mastered in the more traditional classroom setting.
Museum opportunities for students typically fall under the following five rubrics:
Students frequently have a chance to work with Curators on exhibitions, either in research or planning, writing label copy, or helping with installations. When a catalogue accompanies an exhibition, students may have the opportunity to contribute entries on individual objects or short essays focused on groups of objects.
Although not every exhibition includes a catalogue, many of the Museum’s displays are accompanied by short pamphlets or handouts. Students are welcome to consult with the Curator in charge to determine whether they can assist in the production of such brochures.
Finally, the legacy of a Kelsey exhibition often lives on in electronic form via the Museum’s web site. Students, with the approval of the relevant Curator, can volunteer to help design and create a web site for an exhibition.
While research on the collections inevitably arises in the course of a student’s work on an exhibit, more extensive research is conducted through course-related opportunities. Some professors use the collections as a seminal part of their teaching while others encourage students to search the collections for research topics that are relevant to a class. In the past, student research on the collections has resulted in papers presented at major conferences, articles published in peer-reviewed journals, or occasionally in a monograph.
The Kelsey Conservation Lab organizes annual workshops for IPAMAA graduate students on a variety of conservation topics, including ceramic conservation, upper alloy (or bronze) conservation, and others topics relevant to fieldwork and often proposed by IPAMAA students themselves. Students are also welcome to volunteer for work with the Conservators. Due to limited space in the Conservation lab, however, only one or two students can be accommodated each term.
The Kelsey offers a variety of activities and programs (e.g. gallery tours, family days, traveling educational kits, career presentations) to a broad cross-section of the public. Students are always welcome in the Education Office to assist in any of the Museum’s outreach projects.
The Certificate in Museum Studies
The University of Michigan Museums Studies Program (UMMSP) now offers the possibility of more sustained instruction, and associated practical experience in a variety of museum contexts.