28 Jul 2014

Today’s Museum Pros

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We’ve mentioned a few times the move of museums into the 21st century–a “paradigm shift”–where these institutions are embracing modern trends, creating fresh, exciting exhibits, and essentially adapting the entire museological culture to fit in with current expectations and today’s fast-paced world.

What sometimes fails to be mentioned, however, are the people behind the scenes, and the ones responsible for implementing these changes. Museum professionals of the world put their instruction and experiences to use to create welcoming, intriguing exhibits and institutions in an effort to fulfill their museum’s missions.

Professionally trained and educated museum staff are becoming more common as colleges and universities offer degrees in disciplines such as Public History, Cultural Resource Management, Non-Profit Management, and Museum Studies.

One such institution is right here–SUNY Buffalo State, with which Thinking Outside the Square has several formal ties. Buffalo State (Buff State, to locals) has offered a concentration in Museum Studies as a part of its MA History program for years, and has recently launched a standalone MA Museum Studies program that has experience much success.

Students from around the United States have studied in Buffalo State’s program, and have taken their talents and knowledge to museums and cultural sites around the country and region. Even just here in Buffalo, students of the program have worked with the Buffalo History Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Presidential Center, Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, and the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. A recent graduate, Spencer Morgan, has even published a book chronicling steelmaking history Buffalo & Western New York.

Britt Franklin, a student from Bermuda, has chosen a museum from home to be focal in her thesis, bringing together both her time spent in Bermuda and in her new home of Buffalo. Noelle Wiedemer, who just earned her MA from the program, is returning to Buffalo State in the Fall to teach a course in digital collections!

Also an adjunct professor in the program at SUNY Buffalo State is Thinking Outside the Square’s VP of Client Services, Brian McAlonie. He teaches courses in Visitor Experience and Civic Engagement, two topics that have recently become critical to museums in the last decade or so. Brian has an M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Leceister in the UK–and takes his experiences from European teachings as well as American points of view and fuses them together in his classes. Through these two lenses, he creates¬†practical lectures and class material to instruct students on the importance of museums remaining relevant to their public.

And of course, myself (Steve Bukowski, Director of Interpretive Services and Social Media for Thinking Outside the Square). I graduated with the MA, Museum Studies from Buffalo State in December 2013, and engaged in a capstone project at the Steel Plant Museum of Western New York (where I have recently become a¬†member of the Board of Directors)–where another MA grad, Megan Hahin, is curator.

The MA program at Buffalo State has churned out quality museum professionals who are bringing great change and modern knowledge to their institutions, preparing them for the years to come. Once a month, Thinking Outside the Square will highlight a current student or alum from the program, to see just what the world of museum professionals is up to!



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