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Monday, May 23, 2011

Distance Education Museum Training: Fall 2011 (Statewide)

For immediate release
May 19, 2011

Distance Education Museum Training

SALT LAKE CITY — University students and museum professionals are connecting through a unique partnership between Utah State University and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. Since January, they have gathered in USU’s regional campuses and distance education (RCDE) classrooms to take courses in Fundraising or Museum Exhibitions. The two courses are the first of four planned for a certification program designed expressly for museum professionals, to be administered by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums in cooperation with the Utah Museums Association. Plans also call for at least eight courses, and likely more, to be available through online study that leads to academic certification in museum studies through Utah State University.

“The program will serve several constituencies,” said USU Museum of Anthropology and museum studies director Bonnie Pitblado, “University students world-wide seeking specialized museum training that rigorously prepares them for careers in the field, the museum professional seeking career advancement with a formal ‘stamp of approval’ in the form of a professional certification, and the older administrator or volunteer that wants access to advanced training and can take advantage of the senior audit rates.”

“The partnership with Utah State University and its extensive network of regional campuses and distance education centers allows us to bring qualified museum specialists to museum staff and volunteers across the state,” said Margaret Hunt, Director of the Division of Arts & Museums. “Those taking the classes may access them now via broadcast technology in nearly any community in Utah, and within another year or so, online from anywhere in the world,” Hunt continued.

Seven of the museum professionals in the two courses this spring attended through scholarships from the Division of Arts & Museums’ Office of Museum Services, and they worked closely with students on real-world projects. “Our fundraising class has students working with professionals to write grant proposals for seven different museums across the state”, said museum studies professor Curtis Ashton. “One student-professional team with no previous grant writing experience was awarded a grant for over $13,000, and another team recently received word that they had been awarded a $40,000 grant. Certainly every group has benefited from student eyes on their organizations and research on funding prospects.”

The exhibitions course has organized teams to create four exhibits in such diverse places as Blanding, St. George, Delta and Brigham City. In addition to guest lectures on art and design, they are learning project management skills from the practical experience of curators and museum directors in class.

Expertise flows both ways in the courses. In addition to new students working with seasoned professionals, some advanced students are teamed with staff and volunteers from emerging museums. Student Holly Andrew says “What I really enjoyed was meeting all the museums out there and being able to work with one across the state.” Wagon Land Adventure Foundation board member Roland Bringhurst said he has learned a tremendous amount from the course. “As a result we are currently working on a strategic plan which will give us a better direction for the future.”

Courses planned for the 15-week fall 2011 semester include Public Relations and Marketing for Museums (Thursday evenings, 5:15-7:45) and Museums of the World: History and Theory (Tuesday evenings, 5:15-7:45). Museum professionals over 62 years of age may take the courses for $10; younger professionals can take them through distance education or seek scholarships from the Utah Division of Arts & Museums Office of Museum Services. Anyone interested in registering for either course should contact Nick Hall at 435-797-7312, who oversees the quick-admit and registration process for any non-USU student. Again, the classes are available to nearly any Utah resident through USU’s RCDE live-time broadcast technology.

For more information about the certificate program or tuition scholarships for museum professionals visit the Division of Arts & Museums website at www.artsandmuseums.utah.gov or contact Curtis Ashton at curtis.ashton@usu.edu, 801.471.4222, or Wendi Hassan at whassan@utah.gov, 801.860.6396.

About the Utah Division of Arts & Museums
The Utah Division of Arts & Museums is a division of the Utah Department of Community and Culture with a goal to promote innovation in and the growth of Utah’s arts and culture community. The Division provides funding, education, and technical services to individuals and organizations statewide so that all Utahns, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or economic status, can access, understand, and receive the benefits of arts and culture. Additional information on the programs and services can be found at www.artsandmuseums.utah.gov or by calling 801.236.7555.

Course Descriptions

Public Relations and Marketing for Museums
This course explores strategies for developing a successful museum brand image that reaches target audiences and helps museums fulfill their mission. Students collaborate with actual museums across the state to research and test marketing models using multiple channels of communication. Discussions of pricing, publishing, managing friends groups and vendor contracts emphasize ethics and community responsibility.

Museums of the World: History and Theory
Since ancient times, people have had an interest in collecting and preserving artifacts of human ingenuity. Today’s museums have acquired additional functions as public spaces committed to education, research, and recreation. This course explores the history of museums from antiquity to the present as institutions simultaneously concerned with preserving relics of the past and educating audiences into the future. Readings and research projects highlight individual and institutional innovations in practice from around the world, providing a fitting context for standards in our own museums here at home.

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