Course Details

Course offered Winter 2022

HONORS 397 A: Natural History and Culture Museums in the 21st Century (SSc, W)

HONORS 397 A: Natural History and Culture Museums in the 21st Century (SSc, W)

SLN 15493 (View UW registration info »)

Melissa Frey (Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture)
Office: Burke Museum, Room 203E, Box 353010
Phone: 206-221-7170

Credits: 3
Limit: 20 students

Credit Type

Traditionally, natural history and culture museums have served both as a repository for collection objects, and as a place of exhibition, education, and engagement. Today, visitors are still captivated by these museum collections, drawn in by dinosaurs, whales, masks and canoes. However, most natural history and culture museums are able to share only a small fraction of their vast collections and their in-depth research. A key challenge is to connect visitors to museum collections, to share the relevance of museum research, and to make museums matter.

The aim of this seminar is to consider both the public faces (exhibit/education programs) and the behind-the-scene spaces (collections/research) of a modern natural history and culture museum. Students will examine first-hand the Burke Museum’s culture, biology, and paleontology collections, learn about current museum research, and evaluate existing museum exhibits. We will assess how these collections and their stories can be shared in creative and novel ways, and together, what they can teach us about our communities and ourselves.

The course will be hosted at the new Burke Museum, where students will engage with a variety of museum professionals and explore multiple collections. Assignments will include weekly course readings and discussions, two short papers, and a final group project. This seminar will be offered as CR/NC; grading will be based on participation (40%), written assignments (20%), and final presentation (40%).