of the modern museum
is referred to as both "Museum Studies" and "Museology
." Whilst the term Museology may sound more empirical
, the more commonly used term is Museum Studies. Museology is primarily used in Europe, but not to the exclusion of Museum Studies
The work inside a museum is generally comprised of three groups: collection management, curatorship, and design. It is the role of collection managers to act as the archivers and organizers of the museum. Curators and other managers deal with the growth of the collection, the oversight of the museum, and relations with financial backers. The exhibition designers and architects plan and implement the museum installments and exhibits. It is their job to educate and communicate ideas to the public.
Current museum theory is taught as a collection of classes on different topics such as Philosophy of the Museum and Museum Ethics. Much of the material they cover is as step-toed and ham-fisted as it sounds, and even the fabled "New Museology" is painfully dated (this being a woefully underwhelming museum movement circa the late 80's.) The cutting edge appears to lie with Foucault, who has quite a dreadfully large amount of typeface devoted to the meta concept of the archive. In short, a museum's main ethical responsibilities is to hold on to and keep good care of it's collection and to deal graciously with other museums. Abiding by the laws of the host country is also a good idea. After that, allowing displays to the public is probably something a museum would want to do.
Most theory attatched to the design of exhibits is concerned with the psychology and education of mixed groups. One also must be concerned with displaying artifacts in a dignified fasion. Standing by old classics of presentation design or going with something tastefully contemporary are both good strategies. A sense of community and specialization is kept by gathering and publishing ethnographic and qualitative data on specific case study museums and allowing for critique.
When deciding to go into a museum career it is important to know what you want to do and where. Do you want to work in an American History museum? An Art Museum in Italy? Most Museum Studies programs are geared towards getting you a job. This means not just training, but also helping you get hired - usually through the aide of partnerships with local museums. It is also very important to know what kind of work you want to do inside of a museum, as most museum studies programs allow you to focus heavily on one aspect. Do you want to be in charge of a specific niche collection? Perhaps you have your eye set on curator? For any big-shot position in a museum you will need a doctorate either in Museum Studies or something closely related.