Letter from Director/MSP campaign, December 2018

As we approach the holiday season, I want to take this opportunity to give you an update on the Museum Studies Program and ask for your support. This has been a year of transitions for the program. I am writing to you as Interim Director of the MSP, having replaced Dr. Carla Sinopoli who accepted new positions as Director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and as Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I am proud to steward this outstanding program and pleased to have a chance to teach and work with the excellent graduate students who are pursuing the graduate certificate.

We had a very successful year with 8 completing the graduate certificate program and 12 students joining the program in the 2018 cohort. The Rackham Graduate School conducted a comprehensive review of the program’s accomplishments and assessed its current status. Finding the program “a success”without a question, the review committee also lauded the program for its true interdisciplinarity and its “agile curriculum able to address pressing issues of global concern by deploying multiple scholarly perspectives upon the widest range of heritage institutions.” The report also praised the program for creating “an incredibly vibrant and diverse community concerned with museums and heritage institutions as sites of civic engagement, used to display and debate complex subjects of world-wide importance.” One notable measure of success is the diversity of our alumni. “Since its inception, 162 students from 11 U-M colleges and 35 academic disciplines have completed or are currently pursuing the certificate, producing a plethora of transdisciplinary scholarship and engagement.”

Our alumni continue to thrive.  Here is a small sampling of some of their recent achievements:

  • Monica Patterson (MSP 07), Assistant Professor in the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada has just started a new position as Director of the Curatorial Studies Program.
  • Marc Levitt (MSP 08) has initiated the first Visitor Studies Program at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
  • Ricardo Punzalan (MSP 08), Assistant Professor of Information Studies, has been appointed co-director of the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture graduate certificate program at the University of Maryland.
  • Jenny Kreiger (MSP 11) has started a new position as a Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Oregon, working with faculty on projects involving collaboration between the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and campus libraries.
  • Julie Feldt (MSP14) has moved from Chicago to take on a role in guest services at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie.

We are currently finalizing our events for next semester. Samuel J. Redman, author of Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums and Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst will join us as Visiting Scholar during the week of March 11 with an evening public lecture on March 12, 2019 at 6:30 in the Museum of Art Stern Auditorium. We have scheduled class visits to the U-M Herbarium, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Historical Museum, the Toledo Zoo, and the Toledo Museum of Art, and we continue to work with our 60-plus local and regional museum partners on capstone projects, site visits, and other collaborations. Several students will be conducting research or completing practicums domestically and abroad in Ukraine, Spain, Germany, and France. Through our Brown Bag Lecture series, students returning from the field will reflect on their practicum experiences. You can always find the latest news about our alums, faculty, student activities and upcoming events on our web site: http://ummsp.rackham.umich.edu.

The success of all of these activities depends on support from the museum community, our alumni, and other generous donors. We cannot thank you enough for all of the time you have invested in hosting and mentoring our students on site visits,capstone projects, practicums, internships, and research in the field. MSP also greatly benefits from generous student support from the Rackham Graduate School and from the Museum Studies Endowment. Earnings from the endowment assist our graduate students in a variety of ways, allowing us to supplement internship costs, address emergency needs, and support faculty-student collaborative projects. In addition, the MSP Director’sStrategic Fund supports our public programming,visiting scholar, special projects, and other MSP needs.

I hope that you can make a gift this year to help us strengthen this multi-faceted program of teaching, research, learning , practice and public engagement.  Your gift will go directly to supporting activities that provide an outstanding educational experience to our students, help to build capacity in museums regionally, nationally and globally, and bridge the gaps between scholarship, professionalism, and public understanding of museums.  To donate to the Museum Studies Program, please go online to http://ummsp.rackham.umich.edu/about/support-msp/.

I also encourage you to keep in touch by visiting our web site, friending us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/umichmsp),and following us on Twitter (@umichmsp).

Thank you for your support and best wishes for a peaceful, restful, and happy holiday season.


Margaret Hedstrom

Interim Director, Museum Studies Program

Robert M. Warner Collegiate Professor of Information