Kathryn Huss

Concentrations/Minors: BA Anthropology and History of Art, Museum Studies Minor

Why did you decide to pursue the museum studies minor?
When deciding which University to go to, I actually chose U of M because it has more than one museum on campus and I noticed in the catalog that the school offers a museum studies program. I’ve always dreamed of working in the museum field and it was what I wanted to focus on in school. Much to my disappointment, it was not until after I enrolled that I learned the program was only offered to graduate students. I chose to study Anthropology hoping that the education would be useful in the museum field. With a year left to finish school, I received an email introducing the new museum studies program for undergraduates. I was extremely excited to discover that I had room to fit my museum studies classes in for my last year. I was able to graduate completely satisfied with my degree.

How did the museum studies minor impact your other fields of study?
The University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History has an entire floor dedicated to Anthropology. I would often walk through the exhibits thinking about how an anthropologist would interpret a display compared to an individual with a museum studies background. In an archaeology introduction course, Professor Lisa Young was always incorporating research ethics into her lectures, which would explain the concern of how archaeological research affects surrounding Native American communities. In a museum ethics class, I did my final research paper on the removal of the Native American Dioramas at the Exhibit Museum. I learned that research and how that research is shared with the public affect Native American communities.

How was your internship experience?

I purposely chose a large museum, the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, and a smaller museum, Cobblestone Farm for my internships. At the Exhibit Museum, I experienced what it was like to work in a large museum setting where there was a lot to do and a lot going on. At Cobblestone Farm, I learned how to work in a setting with very limited resources. Today I am on the Board of Directors for Cobblestone Farm and I am continuing to work on improving their collection records.

How did the virtual exhibit project from Museums 301 help reveal the interdisciplinary of museums to you?
The virtual exhibit project was helpful because I discovered there are many things we talked about in class about putting exhibits together that were a lot harder than I originally suspected. For example, in Museums 301, Professor Bradley Taylor explained how to properly write a museum label. When I actually tried to write labels for my project, I found it extremely difficult!
What was one thing that surprised you about museums during your pursuit of the museum studies minor?

I had no idea that so much controversy could exist in a museum. Issues such as cultural interpretation, provenance, subject matter, and funding are all very sensitive issues. These issues can become very complicated and complex too.

How do you feel your life at the university and beyond has been and will be affected by pursuing a museum studies minor?
I think I have a much better chance of acquiring my dream of working at a museum. I have background education, experience, and a network of connections.

Why would you recommend a student to pursue a museum studies minor?
In any field of research one studies, there is a good chance that the research will be displayed in a museum and shared with the general public. It is important to know how one’s research is shared.

Where do you see museums fitting into your future?

I definitely want to pursue a career in museums, hopefully working with managing collections. Right now I am trying to gain as much experience as I can until an opportunity for a paid position appears.