The relationship affords Harvard Extension students the chance to enroll in new courses and active learning weekends taking place onsite at the Smithsonian as well as more internship opportunities.
The course, Smithsonian and the Twenty-First-Century Museum: Leadership and Strategic Planning, Funding and Interdisciplinary Work, explores topics such as museum leadership, fundraising strategies, and attracting new audiences in the digital age. In Smithsonian: Creative Engagement at the National Museum of Natural History, students study “Q?rius,” a new physical space and initiative that has been designed as a means of experimenting with creative audience interaction. Students explore the process of developing a new kind of museum space and engage in creative design methodology. Collections Digitization and Digital Asset Management addresses the start-to-end process of creating and managing digital collections and introduces students to 3D collection digitization and applications of 3D scanning technology in research and education.
Harvard Extension School’s Museum Studies program is geared toward museum practitioners working in areas such as collections management, visitor engagement and education, fundraising, and marketing and has experienced significant growth in recent years. According to a 2014 Washington Post article, the United States is home to more than 35,000 museums, greater than the number of Starbucks and McDonald’s locations combined. Furthermore, statistics provided by the American Alliance of Museums demonstrate that arts and cultural production constitute 3.2 percent of the nation’s entire economy. Museums directly contribute $21 billion to the US economy and billions more through indirect spending by their visitors.
“The Smithsonian has long been a leader in innovative and scholarly museum programming,” said Huntington D. Lambert, Dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education. “Harvard University is home to a number of the finest museums in the country. This unique opportunity to work with the Smithsonian’s unparalleled collections and experts will be extremely valuable to our students as they prepare for leadership in the museum field in internships and full-time jobs in Harvard museums and beyond. Through this collaboration, we hope to build even stronger connections between the two institutions.” “For the Smithsonian, this relationship expands our efforts to educate and train museum professionals by combining our expertise, experience and resources with those of Harvard,” said Richard Kurin, Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research. “Through this museum studies initiative, we look forward to addressing both the 21st century opportunities and challenges with a new generation of rising and aspiring museum professionals.”