Museums play many roles in society - as places for education, entertainment, community engagement and dialogue, and sites of cultural and national identity. This course provides an introduction to the history, purposes and work of museums today. During the term we’ll be exploring a range of practical, theoretical and ethical issues. How do objects and "artifacts" end up in museums? What makes a successful exhibit? How do museums engage with their many publics? Whose voices should be heard and what kind of collaboration is possible? During the term we’ll visit several San Francisco museums and talk to museum professionals. We’ll also take a guided walking tour through a historic neighborhood and explore some unexpected “museum” spaces.
Sharon Gmelch is a professor of anthropology and co-director of USF’s cultural anthropology program. Her academic interests include visual anthropology, gender, ethnicity, and tourism; she is the author or editor of eight books on these subjects. She has lived and conducted fieldwork in many places and loves to hang out in museums.