Course Details

Course offered Spring 2023

HONORS 222 D: Natural History and Culture Museums in the 21st Century (NSc, DIV, W)

HONORS 222 D: Natural History and Culture Museums in the 21st Century (NSc, DIV, W)

SLN 21294 (View UW registration info »)

Melissa Frey (Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture)
Office: Burke Museum, Room 203E, Box 353010
Phone: 206-221-7170
Polly Olsen (Burke Museum)
Office: Burke Museum, Box 353010
Phone: 2065435946

Credits: 5
Limit: 22 students

Honors Credit Type

The overall objective of this course is to consider how natural history and culture museums – and museum collections – play a vital role in scientific and cultural research, learning, and engagement. This interdisciplinary course will take place at the Burke, where students will explore both the behind-the-scene spaces (collections and research) and the public faces (exhibit and education programs) of a modern natural history and culture museum. Students will examine first-hand the Burke Museum’s paleontology, biology, archaeology, and arts and cultures collections; learn about current museum research; and assess existing museum exhibits. Specific topics will include: the history of museums; decolonization and DEAI (diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion) practices; curation and conservation; collection-based scientific and cultural research; exhibit development, design, and evaluation; museum audiences and learning programs; and community outreach and engagement. Students will learn how to curate museum collections, how to study collection objects, how to create meaningful connections across disciplines, how to share research findings and powerful stories, how to build community, and ultimately – how to make museums matter. The course will be taught through the interdisciplinary lens of natural science, culture, and lived experience; and students will have the opportunity to interact with various museum professionals across the institution. Supplemental readings will offer additional context and help facilitate classroom conversations; individual writing assignments and group presentations will provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate a deeper interdisciplinary understanding of natural history and culture museums in the 21st century.