Adapting Museum Studies Programs for a Digital Future

Lightning Talk
Caitlin Kearney, George Washington University / Museum of American History, USA, Kelsey Johnston, National Aquarium, USA

What will help improve museum studies programs for the next cohort of emerging museum professionals? Constant evaluation and recommendations by the graduates themselves. This lightning talk, from the perspective of two museum studies students about to complete our museum studies degrees, discusses the need for greater focus on exposing students to digital and technical skills. We will share our own experiences encountering roadblocks in accessing the digital skills we needed, describe how we sought out digital educational tools outside of a formal Master’s program, and make our recommendations for how digital skills can be more holistically incorporated into museum studies programs to better prepare students for real job opportunities that increasingly require tangible digital skills.

As museum studies programs remain structured around traditional, siloed concentrations in areas like collections and administration, we want to offer our suggestions for how the training of future museum professionals can become more cross-disciplinary and meet the needs of increasingly generalist job demands. We recognize that digital work is still not a major focus at many cultural institutions, but perhaps we as a field can begin to transform this by providing museum students with more serious tools and training.

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