Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

William Nitzky

Museum Director
Associate Professor

Dr. William (Will) Nitzky is the director of the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology and is the coordinator of the undergraduate Certificate in Museum Studies and in the Museum Studies Graduate Program at Chico State. Along with teaching courses in cultural anthropology and Asian Studies for the Department of Anthropology, he offers instruction in museology, museum education, community engagement in museums, and exhibition curation. His research in anthropology focuses on ethnicity in China, tourism and heritage studies,  rural livelihoods and development. His recent work explores the museum boom in China and more specifically ecomuseum development and how different ethnic minority communities grapple with community-based, yet government-led initiatives to preserve ethnic heritage. His recent directorial debut of the ethnographic film, Bang the Drum(opens in new window) , documents the life of living bronze drums among the Yao of southern China. Dr. Nitzky also produced the  PBS aired documentary   Stories in Thread. 

Dr. Nitzky works closely with Chico State students to train them in museum work, pushing them to think critically about the future direction of museum studies and to contribute to more inclusive, equitable, and participatory approaches to museum practices. He has also led the curation of two exhibitions with curatorial teams of students from Chico State. The exhibition  Hmong Reflections: Stories of Our Own (2016) highlighted the journey of Hmong refugees to California, and the exhibition  Imprisoned at Home (2018) on the Japanese and Japanese-American incarceration camps during WWII. Each of these exhibitions integrates a collaborative and participatory model to bring source communities into the museum to develop exhibitions with students. 

Over 2021-2022, Dr. Nitzky was invited as an Overseas Visiting Fellow at the National Musuem of Ethnology, in Osaka, Japan, where he developed a new community-museum collaborative project for the African diaspora in Japan. 

Courses in Museum Studies

  • ANTH 405 Museum Administration
  • ANTH 462 Museum Education
  • ANTH 467 Exhibition Research, Design, and Installation
  • ANTH 468 Current Topics in Museum Studies
Portrait of William Nitzky