Students who are working towards an MA in Anthropology may also elect to complete a concentration in Museum Anthropology. This concentration provides students with experiences in analyzing the representation, exhibition, and curation of material culture. Museums are integral to establishing authority over knowledge with respect to what is displayed and how it is exhibited. Cultural patrimony, nationalism, identity, and cultural meaning are not only represented, but also created in the materials shown to the general public. Therefore, museums are contested places where knowledge is available for consumption, where peoples and objects are viewed, and where ideas about the world are formulated. In adopting an anthropological approach to museums, this concentration is distinct from generalized museum studies; museum anthropologists examine curation, exhibition, and museum practice from a comparative and global perspective that interrogates museums as dynamic institutions embedded in particular social and cultural contexts. Emphasis is on both the role of museums in producing anthropological knowledge and the use of anthropological theory to contextualize and critique museum practices in diverse settings. Options for the concentration are four-field and include independent fieldwork in osteology, paleoanthropology, archaeology or bioarchaeology using museum or laboratory collections, an internship at a museum, analyses of visual, aural, and/or material culture at a museum, cultural resource management, NAGPRA compliance, and studies of identity, cultural patrimony, nationalism, and the production of knowledge at one or more museums.
Students complete the concentration by undertaking a focused course of study within their overall MA program. In addition to completing the required courses listed above for the MA degree, Museum Anthropology students must devote 18 of their total course credits to the concentration. Both thesis and curriculum-intensive students may elect the concentration. There is no special application process other than that for the MA program, but students should declare their intention to complete this program of study upon entry to the MA program.