The AMUS curriculum is designed to combine classroom study with internships that function as entry-level staff positions in a museum or gallery; at each stage, students actively synthesize the various experiences of learning. The goals and outcomes listed here summarize basic expectations at each stage.
- In seminars at Georgetown, students conduct research using a range of specialized art history literature and direct examination of works of art in area museums. They may do some work collaboratively, and they present their research in class reports and formal art history papers. In practicum courses (Museum Practice, Museum Education, Curatorial Practice), students relate readings in the discipline, site visits, and classroom discussion to specific professional projects and tasks, such as developing exhibition proposals and budgets. Much of the work is collaborative and some may be related to their internship experiences.
- For internships in the fall and summer semesters, students work with museum supervisors and the program director or other faculty members to fulfill assignments at the host institution and at the same time produce a tangible project and a journal that includes reflective synthesis. Each student works closely with museum staff members and often with interns from other programs and is encouraged to start developing professional networks.
- The semester at Sotheby’s Institute of Art requires students to select a program of study such as Decorative Arts and Design or Art and Business, which includes units taught by a number of faculty specialists. The Institute’s course work emphasizes connoisseurship and hands-on study of art works, and incorporates study trips to public and private collections, auction houses, and art fairs.
- Seminar research papers and class presentations demonstrate a fairly broad and sophisticated understanding of the discipline of art history, its methods of research, and relationships to other disciplines. The report sessions introduce students to the sharing of research at scholarly meetings, and the roles of both independent and collaborative work. The practicum courses usually have several smaller projects rather than a major research paper, but they have similar results in terms of balancing individual and collaborative work. The most important outcome is gaining experience and confidence in handling typical tasks associated with museum work.
- Internships provide both experience of work in a museum or gallery setting and documentation of achievement in a variety of tasks, in the form of such tangible products as gallery information sheets, an educational plan for a specific visitor group, materials related to marketing and development projects, and through the supervisors’ evaluations. The required internship journals will become important resources as the graduate enters the field.
- The experience of studying at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London or New York gives students opportunities to engage directly with research on art objects, current trends in the field, and with issues related to the business side of the art and museum world. The distinctive UK educational system also encourages students to step back and look at the field from a new perspective; students’ journals include reflections on the process of learning as well as the subjects of their studies. The atmosphere at Sotheby’s is rather competitive, and therefore the semester acts as an introduction to the professional world in a way that the fall semester does not. Students finish the program well prepared to take on demanding summer internships and to apply for jobs or PhD level programs.