Welcome from the Director
Welcome to the Museum Studies program at the University of Kansas.
I am a new arrival to KU and Lawrence. As such, I have recently shared the experience of a prospective student— before taking the position of director I spent a lot of time investigating how KU and its Museum Studies program compares with others, and considering the qualities that make this program special. What I found, and what I firmly believe you will find too, is that our program is ready to give its students and graduates the knowledge, skills, connections, and experiences that they can use for success in the professional world of museums. Beyond that, one of the first things I have learned is that it does not take long for the astonishing friendliness of this community to push away any feelings of being an outsider.
These are exciting and challenging times for museums—longstanding premises are being questioned, and many established practices are being reconsidered. Museum professionals today work in an environment far different than that of even a few years ago. Emerging technologies now allow museums to bring their collections and their programs to audiences well beyond the confines of museum buildings. With this expanded reach, museums are preparing for dramatic changes in the age, ethnicity, education, and economic status of their audiences. Exhibitions and public programs are evolving too; more than ever, educators, curators, and designers are seeking ways to engage visitors in complex issues of broad concern. Behind the scenes, collection stewardship is being reevaluated in response to practical, political, and ethical concerns. Additionally, unprecedented scholarly attention is being directed toward the ways in which museums have acquired their collections, represented their subjects, and engaged with the public. In the midst of this transformation, long-standing assumptions about museums’ public value have been called into question, requiring museum leaders to craft new collaborations and community partnerships in order to survive. To advance and thrive in this dynamic environment, twenty-first century museum professionals will need knowledge informed by practice, imagination tempered by rigor, and leadership stimulated by collaboration. This is what we can offer at the University of Kansas.
I invite you to explore how our exciting, interdisciplinary program in Museum Studies corresponds to your own interests in preparing for a museum career. And, please, do not hesitate to write or call if you want to learn more.
Peter H. Welsh
Director, Museum Studies