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Museum Studies

Art history and history double-major Sami Niese '15 curated an art exhibit called "Unearthing the Sonnenschein" while she was a student.Art history and history double-major Sami Niese '15 curated an art exhibit called "Unearthing the Sonnenschein" while she was a student.

Chicago is home to an astounding array of institutions that collect, curate and display objects, plants and animals. Lake Forest College’s minor in museum studies provides students from a wide range of majors a chance to study the theory and practice of displaying such collections for educational and cultural purposes. 

The program in museum studies considers the definition of “museum” to include not only art museums or history museums, but also other types of museums, including natural history museums, zoos, aquariums, planetariums, children’s museums, historic homes and monuments. Coursework and internship opportunities provide students from many disciplines the opportunity to develop skills and perspectives about such institutions.

The experience is often hands on: after receiving a $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant, College faculty directed urban archaeological digs in Chicago. Students participating in the Archaeological Field School spent their summer doing fieldwork and excavation at Chicago’s Charnley-Persky House. This digital humanities grant reflects the significance of a new form of curatorship for the 21st century. 

In addition, our minor in museum studies gives students access to internships and opportunities at Chicago’s world-class museums and institutions such as the Field Museum, Chicago Botanic Gardens, and the Newberry Library.  Back on campus, the College has its own collection of art work, holograms and a herbarium. Learning opportunities abound for those interested in curation. 

Considering the museum as a means of communicating ideas about cultures and societies, this program is inherently interdisciplinary, working with faculty from the Departments of Art, History, and Sociology and Anthropology. With a set of historical and theoretical courses on the functions and practices of museums, and practical experiences in both courses and internships, the program gives pre-professional focus to students’ preparation and provides expanding career opportunities.