Katie Himics reflects on her experience as a museum educator at the Newark Museum, the birthplace of modern museum education theory.
What Great Minds Can Do: Gregory Stevens, M.A.T.
"I really love helping build a foundation of knowledge about the museum field, which is an ever-evolving field with a very rich history and ongoing challenges that we all face. I also really love seeing students' eyes open about aspects of the museum field and the work they have chosen or think they are going to do. It's delightful to me when students explore an aspect of the museum field and come away from that exploration with more insider clarity."
Gregory Stevens, M.A.T.
Professor Gregory Stevens has all the experience one could want in a new faculty associate and director for the M.A. in Museum Professions program. Over his two decades working in the museum industry, Stevens has held positions in such prestigious institutions as the American Alliance of Museums, the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Additionally, he has taught courses in museum studies everywhere from The George Washington University to Johns Hopkins University.
But Stevens also has one thing that no amount of professional experience can teach — passion for the field. The program director has always loved museums as society's storytellers, informing people about the past while shaping their worldview for the future. And as a professor, he enjoys fostering that same appreciation for museums in his students.
"I really love helping build a foundation of knowledge about the museum field, which is an ever-evolving field with a very rich history and ongoing challenges that we all face," Stevens, who became the program director in 2018, said. "I also really love seeing students' eyes open about aspects of the museum field and the work they have chosen or think they are going to do. It's delightful to me when students explore an aspect of the museum field and come away from that exploration with more insider clarity."
Stevens believes Seton Hall's Museum Professions program is an excellent place to conduct that exploration. With the program's intimate class sizes, students get to experience significant one-on-one interaction with faculty members who bring a wealth of museum experience to their courses. They can also take advantage of the fact that the University is only 14 miles from New York City, which offers a multitude of internships, networking opportunities and limitless immersive opportunities.
Then there is the program itself, which consists of four professional tracks: Museum Education, Museum Registration, Museum Management and Exhibition Development. Students are required to select one track to specialize in over the course of their program so they will possess all the skills necessary to land a job in their desired areas by the time they graduate. But that does not mean they receive a narrow education. In addition to their required core courses, all students have the option of pursuing electives across the program's various tracks.
That way, the program's students gain a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to operate a museum — something Stevens believes is important for any aspiring museum professional to have. On one hand, he pointed out that museums are highly collaborative, so students benefit from knowing the intricacies of these institutions while engaging with colleagues from different areas. On the other hand, he said familiarizing oneself with the entire museum industry is simply a great way of preparing for whatever one's career brings.
"You may plan to be a curator at the Met, but you might actually spend many years working in a very small museum where you are the curator and the educator and the exhibit designer and the director and the gift shop proprietor," Stevens said, adding that he himself never expected to end up working at the museums he did. "These are very real scenarios for emerging professionals, so I think it's critical for them to broaden their horizons. That isn't to say that students who are very clear about what they want to go forward and get exactly that. But I think giving some options and a little broader perspective is entirely valuable."
Looking ahead to his own future as the Museum Professions director, Stevens is eager to pursue opportunities for growing the program. He has already had conversations about partnering with the College's other graduate programs and he is also exploring how he can maximize resources like the Walsh Gallery and Seton Hall's proximity to New York. On top of that, he is exploring how to further enhance the program's curricula, including opportunities related to museum technology and diversity and inclusion.
One thing Stevens definitely wants to expand is career development, a topic he knows extremely well. As director of professional development at the American Alliance of Museums, he launched numerous initiatives dedicated to career development, which he considers one of his proudest professional moments. He is also the principal of Purple Cow Career and Talent Development, a firm providing job search and career transition coaching to emerging and mid-career professionals. In addition, he recently co-wrote a book about managing museum careers.
Using his expertise, Stevens hopes to put students on the path to their dream careers by ensuring they have all the 21st century skills they need, such as relationship building, data fluency and strategic thinking. At the same time, he is "thrilled" to begin his own journey as faculty member and program director. Because while students are learning from the courses they take, Stevens knows he will be getting an education of his own.
"I am at my core a lifelong learner," Stevens said. "Every aspect of my professional life has been marked by profound periods of personal and professional growth — new insights, new skills, new approaches to my work. So, there's no reason for me to believe that Seton Hall won't be another one of those key and critical areas of professional and personal growth for me as I go about the business of directing this program."
This profile was written by Sean Quinn, a Graduate Assistant for Graduate Studies within the College of Communication and the Arts and an M.A. in Public Relations student.
- Director of the M.A. in Museum Professions program
- Principal, Purple Cow Career & Talent Development
- Director of Professional Development, American Alliance of Museums
- Manager of Programs and Publications, Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums
- Education Specialist, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- Arts Program Director, Kellogg Performing and Visual Arts School
- Adjunct Instructor, The George Washington University
- Adjunct Instructor, Johns Hopkins University