IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Museum Studies

The Museum Studies Program at IAIA is one of but a few undergraduate museum studies programs in the USA. IAIA offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, an Associate of Fine Arts degree, and a minor in Museum Studies.  The department also offers a 30-credit certificate to those who wish to pursue careers in a museum or related institution.

Bachelors of Fine Arts in Museum Studies

The first two semesters of the program focus on a core curriculum of six essential courses designed to introduce students to all aspects of museum studies.  These range from the theoretical and legal issues to the practical aspects of safely handling cultural objects, cataloging collections, and working with Native communities. Later semesters provide a wide array of upper division courses, allowing students to customize their Museum Studies degree to fit their interests and career goals.

Experiential learning is incorporated into classroom assignments, including the installation of exhibits in the on-campus Balzer Contemporary Edge Gallery. Ideally, students complete two internships during their last two years in the degree program. Through our intensive internship program, students have the unique opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to actual museum application at some of the leading institutions of art in America.  These include:

  • Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe
  • School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe
  • IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
  • The National Museum of American Indian Art in Washington DC

Additionally, Museum Studies majors are eligible to apply for the IAIA Journey Home Internship, which offers ten paid internships during the summers of 2015-2017.

BFA Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate skills and techniques of museum exhibit design and installation
  • Contextualize components of museum collections as they pertain to its cultural meaning
  • Identify and synthesize indigenous protocols, customs and sensitivities in museum settings
  • Analyze and critique the roles and responsibilities of the various museum and cultural center professions
  • Employ new and applicable technologies within the museum field
  • Construct new models of museum representation and interpretation

Associate fo Fine Arts in Museum Studies

The A.F.A. in Museum Studies is a pre-professional degree program providing the student with the first two years of a four-year Museum Studies Bachelor of Fine Arts course of study. Upon completion, the student will be prepared to seek entry an level Museum studies position or matriculate into the baccalaureate program at IAIA or another school of choice.

AFA Learning Outcomes

  • Articulate and differentiate the various roles and responsibilities of museum and cultural center professionals.
  • Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of Museum Curation, Collections Management and Repatriation history.
  • Demonstrate elementary skills and techniques in Exhibition design and installation.
  • Recognize and place art within a historical, contemporary and cultural context.

Museum Studies Certificate available Online and In-person

The certificate program introduces students to all aspects of museum studies from theoretical perspectives to practical applications. Courses are arranged with weekly video demonstrations, readings, and original research assignments. In addition to learning the details of museum operations, students also learn about the ethical and legal considerations involved in collecting, storing, and exhibiting Native American cultural objects. The program is designed for working professionals unable to travel to campus. The same classes are also offered in-person as classes available on campus.

Certificate Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize curatorial best practices
  • Demonstrate proficiency in collection management technique
  • Evaluate indigenous concerns in cultural heritage institutions

Museum Studies go to the heart, mind and eye.  “Each culture defines for itself what is the ultimate form of self-expression…” Rick Hill, former Museum Director of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Creativity is Our Tradition, 1992.

Degree Requirements, Course Descriptions, and Block Schedules

For more information about degree requirements, course descriptions, and block schedules, please see the IAIA College Catalog.