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.

The Museum Studies Department internship program relies on generous opportunities from partner institutions.  As student you apply your skills, creativity, and passions in a real museum setting which is a critical way to integrate and apply what you've learned, test your vocational interests, develop professional networks, and gain valuable experinece for your resume.  Internship in any museum in the world that can meet the requirements of the learning experinece.  The key is to start early enough to develp the unique experience that meets your goals.

The Museum Administration course presents a brad overview of issues that administrators who work in museums, historical societies, archives, special collection libraries, and other cultural resource agencies experience in their careers.  In addition to discussions that are unique to agencies that collect, preserve, and share cultural resources, the class also partners with novice institutions to help develop an administrative and budgetary plan for the future.

The Exihibit Develpment course offers and overview of museum exhibit planning and design through an integration of theory and practice.  This class introduces students to exhibit development, design process, and evaluation, and to a variety of professional skills through hands-on exercises, exhibit critiques, museum observations, and in-museum visits.  Students learn to build effective design documents, and how exhibit team members contribute to the exhibit design and planning process through working with community partners to create and exhibit design within their space.

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 Museum Studies.


Museum Studies Faculty          

Dr. Holly Cusack-McVeigh

Public Scholar of Collections and Community Curation

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies

Cavanaugh 407

Telephone 317.274.1400


I never dreamed I would find a faculty position that uniquely combined my love of anthropological research, my passion for the museum world and my sincere dedication to the next generation of scholars. For almost twenty years, I have lived and worked in Alaska. I love Alaska deeply and have strong ties to the communities where I have worked on community-based, collaborative projects. My Alaska home is a place where the day is measured by the dramatic high and low tides (28 – 30 foot tidal range), where volcanoes make their presence known through occasional eruptions and blankets of ash, where moose are much more common than cows and where “off road” literally means accessible only by air (bush plane) or by  sea (skiff). Alaska is truly a place of stunning contrasts where people are shaped by the land. Why would I leave something that I love so dearly? IUPUI’s strong commitment to research, teaching and community!

By the time I was in fifth grade, I knew that I wanted to be an anthropologist and work with Native American cultural groups and objects. In the late 1980’s, I began working for tribal museums that were just beginning to plan for the future growth of their museum collections and tribal museums. These early experiences proved challenging but taught me so much about collections care. I have also spent many years working for tribal groups and helping to bring their ancestors back home through formal and informal repatriation work. In my more recent curatorial positions, I oversaw all cultural and natural history collections. These responsibilities included everything from bird mounts to sacred objects.

My research interests include ethnographic objects and meaning, Native American and arctic studies, folklore and oral history, ethics in anthropology, museum ethics, community curation and conservation, sense of place and Identity, and cultural and intellectual property. As a research anthropologist, museum curator, collections manager and university professor, I have worked to increase the level of collections care both in private collections and in museum settings. A central focus of my work involves partnering with North American indigenous communities on projects ranging from repatriation to oral history, cultural heritage research, community-based exhibitions, and tribal resource management. I work hard to engage diverse communities through meaningful exchange and truly collaborative relationships. One of my strongest commitments is to the concept of “community conservation” and the idea that we should share and extend our collections knowledge to the communities we serve. By engaging community members and addressing their priorities for collections, we give voice to those who have not been historically engaged in the collections care and conservation process. I am also currently working on a multi-year field project entitled “Honoring Our Ancestors.” This community-based project focuses on the preservation of Kijik, a large historic Dena’ina Athabascan village and cemetery site in Alaska. My applied work is grounded in my original anthropological studies which are reaching publication in recent and pending volumes.

I am very excited about this new chapter in my life and I am thrilled to join the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI because this position brings together my professional expertise and life’s passions! Museums should strive to be dynamic places where our audiences can grow through exploration and dialogue. I welcome the opportunity to help shape the future of museums by joining the diverse faculty in this innovative Museum Studies program.


Dr. Laura Holzman

Public Scholar of Curatorial Practices and Visual Art

Assistant Professor, Art History and Museum Studies

Herron 252

Telephone 317.278.9415   


I am a pack rat. Although I love to sort and organize, I have always had trouble throwing things away. Perhaps I am reluctant to discard because I find that each object I encounter tells a story — or has the potential to. Furniture, clothing, and housewares that family members used to own trigger memories of those individuals and visions of what they did when they sat at that table or sipped from that cup.  A magazine clipping might become a useful archival document, or I might be able to recycle it in a collage as I create an image of my own to tell a contemporary tale. When I was younger and my parents found fabric or papers that I had squirreled away, they often asked, “Are you saving that for the museum?”

As an amateur artist, curator, and collector, I use objects to make sense of the world around me; when I approach the museum field from a scholarly perspective, I consider the ways in which others engage in similar practices. In my research and teaching I ask, what do the images and objects that we make, save, or show communicate about who people are, who people were, or who people want to be?

My academic background in art history and visual studies, paired with my professional experience in the culture sector, guides my approach to these questions. While pursuing a B.A. in art history and film and media studies at Swarthmore College, I worked with several cultural organizations in nearby Philadelphia.  After graduation, I joined the marketing and public relations team at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I learned about the way the museum envisioned its audiences and conceived of its role in local, national, and international communities. I then attended graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, and received my Ph.D. in visual studies in 2012.  During my time there, I conducted research about public art and civic identity, with a particular focus on contemporary Philadelphia.

One reason for my interest in the idea of local and regional visual culture is that over the past 10 years I have lived in New Jersey, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.  Moving around the country and learning about local culture in my new homes piqued my desire to understand the role that visual culture plays in shaping civic identity in different communities. I am currently writing a book about the ways these factors have affected Philadelphia. After moving to Indianapolis in 2012 I also began collaborating with local community groups to explore similar issues in this city.  I look forward to working with you to build connections with the communities that interest you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to talk about public art, curatorial practice, or other topics related to museum studies.


Dr. Elizabeth Kryder-Reid

Interim Director of Museum Studies Program

Director of Cultural Heritage Research Center

Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies

Cavanaugh 433

Telephone: 317-274-1406


When offered the position of Museum Studies Director back in the spring of 1998, I couldn’t believe there was actually a job that would combine my background in Anthropology, Art History, and Public History with my passion for museums. I had always been drawn to learning and teaching about the past through objects, whether in a university class, an archaeological public program, or a museum exhibit. And, finally, I have always relished collaboration, preferring doubles tennis, rowing crew, choral singing, and even committee work to going solo. Here was a job that used it all.

Once in Indy, I found not only amazingly hospitable museums, but also an urban university to supporting faculty who like to teach and do research with and for the community. I have had the great pleasure of working with just about every museum in town on projects such as exhibits, grant‐funded research, internships, and a whole variety of classes that use the museums as learning labs. At IUPUI I have had the privilege of helping build a program that combines the highest standards of professional training with a commitment to work that is engaged with the community. I've also been given an opportunity for a mid-career "reboot" when Elee took over the MSTD Director position, and I launched the new Cultural Heritage Research Center in 2013. This new direction involves lots of grant writing and administration, as well as research in the relatively new field of critical heritage studies.

I teach "Introduction to Museum Studies," "Museum Methods," "Museum Administration," and "Museum Colloquium," as well as courses in archaeology and cultural heritage studies (which draws on multiple fields). Whatever the topic, I relish working with students on inquiry-based projects that help people make connections -- between theory and practice, history and current issues, personal interests and vocation, and, most importantly, between people.

I find professional service is a great way to keep current in the field and connect with folks in other programs and museums. I am active in museum associations and area museums. I currently serve on the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Environmental & Historic Resources Committee which is wrestling with some of the major changes in the IMA's approach to their grounds, and on the Glenn Black Archaeology Lab Advisory Committee.

My research interests are in landscape archaeology and history, and the public presentation of the past at historic sites. I worked at the National Gallery of Art on a “three year project” that was finally published in 2010 (more than twenty years later!) as Keywords in American Landscape Design. My current research is on the California missions and their landscapes. In 2016 I finished my book, Material Witness: Memory, Heritage, and California Mission Landscapes, published by University of Minnesota Press.

When not teaching, writing, or lost in the administrivia of higher education, I try to keep up with my three active daughters, and enjoy singing alto in a choir, reading, cooking, and gardening. I’m also into rowing with the Indianapolis Rowing, Center at Eagle Creek reservoir, so if you’re interested in trying out the sport, let me know and I can tell you more about IRC classes and competitive teams!

The coming year looks to be an exciting one. We’ve got lots planned including a symposium the preliminary phase of our third project with the Humanities Action Lab, this one focusing on environmental justice, climate change, and migration. I'm also conducting a research project on stakeholder-defined value of heritage sites, and dipping my toe in the digital humanities waters with a story map exploring landscapes and social inequality in Indianapolis. I look forward to getting to know you and to helping you find what you're looking for during this journey that we call becoming an "emerging museum professional"!


Dr. Modupe Labode

Public Scholar of African American History and Museums

Associate Professor, Museum Studies and History

Cavanaugh 420

Telephone 317.274.3829


I came to museum studies by a typically circuitous route. After earning a degree in history from Iowa State University, I studied history at Oxford University. While researching and writing my dissertation on African women and Anglican missionaries in nineteenth-century South Africa, I encountered that country’s vibrant anti-apartheid public history movement. This was my first encounter with public history and museum studies.

After teaching African and women’s history at my alma mater, I decided to shift my career toward public history. From 2002-2007, I was the chief historian at the Colorado Historical Society, where my duties included outreach, supervising the state’s historic marker program, working on exhibitions, and writing for the public. This experience gave me an appreciation for the satisfactions and difficulties of translating theories about historiography and museums into practice. My colleagues, from archaeologists to historic preservation specialists to community elders, taught me how important history is in many people's’ lives.

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the Museum Studies Program and the History Department including “Museum Methods,” “The Nature of History,” and “The Guantánamo Project.”  My major research project is “Fred Wilson’s E Pluribus Unum,” which examines what a public art controversy in Indianapolis reveals about race, representation, and public space in the United States.

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.