Ten students pursuing their M.A. in Museum Professions, a graduate program within the College of Communication and the Arts, recently took part in a 10-day study abroad course in the Netherlands. Led by Dr. Petra Chu, students learned about the histories, collections, operations, and past and future challenges in the Netherlands. Students visited more than 20 museums in five cities including Amsterdam, Delft, Haarlem, The Hague, and Leiden.
Historically, students in the M.A. in Museum Professions program have the opportunity to participate in study abroad opportunities. On these trips, previous destinations of which have included Amsterdam, Beijing (and Shanghai), Berlin, Florence, Paris, and Rome, students visit numerous museums and historic sites, often looking “behind the scenes,” to see how museums outside of the United States operate.
“My favorite part about the trip was sharing the experience of visiting museums with individuals who are just as enthusiastic about museums as I am,” Erin Benz said, a Museum Registration track student who is a Dean’s Graduate Scholarship recipient. “The enthusiasm showed me that the future of museums is in good hands if students like us are this excited and interested about museums.”
Chu explained that museums in the Netherlands hold an important place in the study of museological history. “Though Holland cannot boast the oldest museums in Europe, it can claim a long and respectable museum tradition with the first purpose-built museum, collections dating back to the 16th century, and exciting and interesting national museums,” she said. “On this trip the students truly experienced the Dutch museum culture.”
Kate Dinneny, a Museum Education track student who is also a scholarship recipient, shared her experience. “This trip showed me a new world of museums,” she said. “I was very impressed by the innovative methods used to interpret collections. The Netherlands’ use of technology was seamlessly integrated into their exhibits and the staff demonstrated progressive thinking about museological topics. By witnessing how museums operate in Holland, I now see how we can improve museums in the United States.”
Study abroad opportunities also contribute to and inspire students’ academic and professional goals. Anna Baccaglini, a B.A./M.A. in Museum Professions student, found the trip helpful for her current master’s thesis research. “My master’s thesis explores how museums should incorporate more interactive and multi-sensory elements in their permanent gallery spaces. During the Seminar Abroad to the Netherlands, I found that the majority of their museums already included such elements. This trip gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand how museums function differently outside of the United States. As a result, my master’s thesis will make a more informed contribution to the museum field.”
The Seminar Abroad experience is enhanced through the generous support of Harold and Helen Lerner, whose invaluable contribution helps offset student expenses related to the trip. “The funds are used to do something ‘extra,’ that would often be too expensive for students,” Chu explained. “We felt that by using the funds in this way, every student could benefit from the Lerner’s generosity.”
“Studying abroad was a fantastic way to experience how professionals around the world work and develop the same practices we are learning about at Seton Hall,” Amanda McGrady said, who is a Museum Registration track student and a scholarship recipient. “I am so glad for the opportunity to go abroad and I definitely encourage other students to do the same.”
The M.A. in Museum Professions is designed for individuals interested in pursuing careers in museums or related cultural institutions. Students in the program select one of four professional tracks, including Museum Education, Museum Registration, Museum Management, or Exhibition Development.
The College currently offers three Master's-level programs, including Museum Professions, Strategic Communication, and Public Relations. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered. A Ph.D. program is currently under development.