JBU Students Intern at Prestigious Museums

JBU Museum Studies Minor

By Tarah Thomas '16
6/28/2018 4:47:45 PM

Article Photo

John Brown University students interned at prestigious museums nationwide and overseas last summer to complete their internship credit for the Museum Studies minor.

JBU students accepted summer internships at Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville and the Benjamin Franklin Museum in London.

“It is not surprising that our students are doing so well because I know the quality of our students,” Dr. Trisha Posey, associate professor of history and director of the museum studies minor at JBU, said. “For them, it is a huge encouragement to know that these major world-class museums are looking at them and saying, ‘You have the skills we need,’ and you have the ability to make it, in even the very best museums.”

The JBU Museum Studies minor, begun in the fall of 2014, is a cross-disciplinary program, committed to educating students on museum fundamentals by intermixing art, history, biblical studies and business courses.

With a requirement of 12 hours, students learn museum management, collection’s care, museum programming with the freshly added course Introduction to Museum Studies, as well as courses in business management and accounting.

“Even though most museums are considered “non-profit” they still operate as companies operating under the same rules as any commercial business,” Dr. Bobby Martin, associate professor of visual arts, said. “Even the smallest local art center or history museum must be able to understand the business of doing business.”

Students must complete an extra six credit hours from three emphases—art history, archaeology, or archives and public history.

Students with the archaeology emphasis may join the Abila Project, the biennial summer study abroad program in N. Jordan to excavate the ancient site of Abila with Dr. David Vila, the JBU professor of religion and theology.

Posey and Martin built the minor due to attraction from students, especially history and art majors. The two researched extensively other institution’s programs and discussed with museum professionals the skills needed for a potential employer.

“We wanted to make the curriculum practical and broad, which is why we incorporated multiple areas of study into the program,” Dr. Martin said. “There are so many possible careers options in the museum world—from curator to educator to financial officer to graphic designer—that we tried to touch on as many areas as we could within the confines of a minor structure. This is also why we integrated multiple emphasis areas—Archives/Public History, Art History and Archaeology—to help create flexibility for students.”

The Internship in Museum Studies course requirement gives students hands-on experience in the museum field to further recognize a potential career path.

Elyse Partee, a senior at JBU, worked at the Smithsonian Discovery Theater in Washington, D.C. this summer giving schoolchildren museum tours and encouraging creativity in the public schools through the performing arts. Partee, with this internship, was able to integrate her passions for theater, history and art.

“At Discovery Theatre, my personal strengths, as well as my abilities as a student of history and museums, were seen as a valuable commodity,” Partee said. “I consistently saw the fruit of my work, and it was so rewarding to see that the things I’ve worked so hard to learn at JBU are valued in the ‘real world.’”

The program equips students with the opportunity to be successful for graduate school or a career in the museum field.

Partee hopes to attend graduate school, maybe working in a museum theatre or educational programming soon after graduation.

“At JBU, I’ve learned about discipline and worldview – two skills that are vital here at Discovery Theatre,” Partee said. “The practice of being committed to the standards of quality expected in my schoolwork and involvements at JBU prepared me to bring those high personal standards into the workplace.”

“I am thrilled that so many of our museum studies minors have been able to have amazing experiences at world-class museums…” Martin said. “Due to the excellent work that JBU interns have been doing, we’ve been building excellent relationships with major institutions that we hope to see grow in the future.”


(Above Photo)  Students handle archived documents of a museum delicately, also called collections care. JBU students in the Museum Studies minor learn collections care and more with the freshly added classes in Intro to Museum Studies and Internship in Museum Studies.

Share via

Share Icon:Share on FacebookShare Icon:Email this PageShare Icon:Share on Twitter