Eiteljorg Museum
Deer Fountain by Kenneth Bunn at the Eiteljorg Museum.

About Museum Studies

Museum Studies at IUPUI prepares people to be self-reflective leaders in the museum field.

Applied projects with community partners form the basis of students’ learning experiences. Graduates of the program demonstrate through their final portfolios not only their skills in museum practices, such as collections care, interpretive planning, museum administration, and exhibit development, but also their ability to work collaboratively, to solve problems creatively, to innovate, and to lead.

This is my alt textFaculty and students produce research that advances the scholarship of museums and their communities. Housed in the IU School of Liberal Arts on the IUPUI campus, the program has one of the largest dedicated Museum Studies faculty in the U.S. These Public Scholars hold appointments in Museum Studies and a range of departments including anthropology, history, education, and fine arts. Each of the faculty is committed to civic engagement as a way of teaching and learning and to producing scholarship that is relevant and accessible. 

Community Collaboration

Community Collaboration is at the heart of our Museum Studies Program. We share a close relationship with our local museum community and participate in several hands-on learning opportunities, collaborative projects, and internships.

Public Scholarship

Public scholarship is a central tenet of the Museum Studies Program. Five of the faculty appointed in Museum Studies hold the title of Public Scholar. Other Museum Studies faculty and adjuncts, like many faculty across the IUPUI campus, are committed to public scholarship as well.

Simply put, public scholarship is the notion that the research and teaching we do is both with and for "the public." We have varied ways of framing who those publics are - community partners, indigenous communities world-wide, families in informal learning settings, homeless - but our public scholarship is done in partnership with those publics to address their needs and concerns.

As a result, the way we craft our research and teaching may look a little different than the standard academic; it is generally collaborative and outcomes-focused, and it usually has final products that are accessible to and valued by the community - exhibits, web sites, evaluation data and reports, curricula, feasibility reports, inventories. (Specific examples of current projects are below). Because public scholarship’s products are often more diverse than just the standard book or peer-reviewed journal article, we invest considerable time and attention in evaluating it to document that it has all the rigor and meets all the expectations of any university faculty member’s scholarship.

We also publish and share our work as broadly as possible within and without the academy. We are interested in furthering the discourse of public scholarship and the scholarship of civically engaged and transformative teaching. If you are interested in joining in on the conversations about the roles of public scholars in universities and museums, contact

Examples of public scholarship by Museum Studies faculty:

Elee Wood, Public Scholar of Museums, Families, and Learning, Director of Museum Studies

My public scholar work encompasses a wide range of projects at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis , where I work closely with the school programs department to evaluate and strengthen programming, support the family learning initiative, and work with exhibit development teams to investigate new strategies for presenting concepts. I’ve also worked with other area museums in connection with class projects on program evaluation and museum theatre.

Larry Zimmerman, Public Scholar of Native American Representation

My position is partnered with the Eiteljorg Museum. We’ve just completed a three semester Museum Studies class sequence targeting the concept of contact, a theme being considered for renewing the museum’s Native American galleries. We’ll plan more classes like this and are now working on short term projects involving Native popular culture, including comic books and the movies. I’m also the primary organizer for an Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress on Indigenous Representation in Museums, planned for 2009, that will bring folks from all over the world. As a sideline, I’m doing research on the archaeology of homeless, looking into the use and distribution of material culture.

Liz Kryder-Reid, Director of Cultural Heritage Research Center

I have been working in partnership with the other faculty and with museum and library staff in a project funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. We have developed Shaping Outcomes, an on-line course in outcomes based planning in evaluation designed for museum and library professionals and students in those fields. I think Shaping Outcomes will be a valuable resource for those museums and libraries doing projects and programs that are centered around making a difference in the lives of their audiences. Check out the project at and let us know what you think.

Mission and Core Values

The Museum Studies Program’s mission is to support the development of self-reflective, skilled, and engaged leaders in the museum field through experiences in and outside of the classroom and to advance the scholarship of museums and their missions.

Our core values: civic engagement, applied learning, integration, collaboration, inclusion, and leadership support this mission.

Civic engagement
Modeled in teaching and research and promoted as a central tenet of museums, engagement with communities is fundamental to the learning experiences in the program and to the life-long work of our graduates in the museum field.

Applied Learning
Through applied projects in real world settings and problem-based learning, students are empowered to make knowledge their own, to be active inquirers, to respond to new situations and challenges with creative thinking, and to assess the merit of their work based on its impact.

Students integrate disparate bodies of knowledge and, through the multidisciplinary faculty and curriculum, encounter varied perspectives on the museum field, and craft a critical, self-reflective understanding of the roles and potential power of museums in society.

The program teaches, models, and applies the skills and attitudes necessary to the success of team-based work and encourages students to explore the relationships of power and authority that are inherent in collaborations of all sorts.

Diverse perspectives, experiences, and traditions are included, valued, and promoted, with a particular interest in increasing access to and the value of museums for communities.

Through experiences and reflection, students master skills, ethics, and values required to be leaders in the museum field, whatever their professional roles.