View the latest updates on the COVID-19 News & Information website.
Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

Museum Studies

The Museum of Anthropology was established in 1970 in Trinity Hall at California State University, Chico, to support the Department of Anthropology’s unique and innovative museum training program. Today, the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology continues to function as a multifaceted educational facility for students in the Museum Studies Program. The Museum Studies Program at CSU Chico is one of the few museology programs in the United States, where students conceive, research, design, and install exhibits as part of their formal training, as well as gain hands-on courses in museum collections management and other areas of museology. Students have two options in pursing a degree in museum studies: the Certificate in Museum Studies or the Masters Degree in Anthropology, with an Option in Museum Studies.

Certificate in Museum Studies

Chico State’s museum studies program has been a leader in museums studies programs nationally for over 40 years.  Thanks to the vision of the museum’s founder, Keith Johnson, the program continues to prepare students for work as museum professionals with unique hands-on training.  Students actively participate in all stages and aspects of research, design and installation of museum exhibitions. This approach equips our graduates with the tools they will need in the professional world. The Certificate in Museum Studies is designed for undergraduate and graduate students attending CSU Chico, wishing to augment the degree in their major area of study.

The required coursework is listed in the catalog. Co-Directors Stacy Schaefer and Georgia Fox teach the museum studies courses for CSUC. The certificate requires one internship in a museum.

Masters Degree in Anthropology, with an Option in Museum Studies

Students pursuing their Master Degree in Anthropology have an option to concentrate in museum studies in addition to their required four-field anthropology core curriculum, with two required internships and a master’s thesis. The requirements can be accessed through the catalog.

Please see the department web page for applying to our graduate program.

MA Theses Completed Academic Year 2017-2018 by Museum Studies Students

William “Liam” Townsend MA Thesis:  The Representation of International States, Societies, and Cultures in Twenty-First Century Space-Themed Exhibits: An Anthropological Inquiry of Museums in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia

Liam’s thesis investigated how space programs in museums are portrayed and presented as an aspect of national identity.

Jacqueline Coon:  Augmenting Realities: Improving Habitat Dioramas through the use of Augmented Reality Technology at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Jackie’s MA thesis explores how old natural history dioramas can be updated through interactive technologies such as augmented reality through the use of iPads, which she conducted at the Grand Rapids Museum in Michigan.

Heather Martin:  Increasing Accessibility at the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology: An Online Database Featuring the North American Basketry Collection

Heather’s MA thesis is a complete analysis of the museum’s Native California basket collection. Heather worked with Tribal members to identify basket-making techniques, materials, and traditions.  The collection is now online at the museum’s website.

Bella Quijano: Hats, Caps, and Headdresses: Developing an Online Exhibit for the Small Museum

By utilizing the VLSMA hat collection, Bella’s MA Thesis explores access to the collection via the museum’s website, using 3-D visualization, so the hats can be examined from all sides.  Bella’s thesis demonstrates how this can be done on a small budget.  For this thesis, Bella researched each hat; the information can be accessed on the museum’s website.