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The Australian National University

Liberal Arts - Museums & Collections

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The Museums and Collections stream provides you with practical skills in management, marketing, interpretation, education and curation of exhibitions. It also equips you with skills in critical analysis, research, problem-solving and communicating with diverse audiences. The programs are designed to be tailored to your needs, whether you are already working in the sector and are looking for further professional development or greater critical, academic knowledge of the area. You may be a recent or older graduate interested in gaining employment and/or undertaking research in the sector or you may be looking for a career change. The Museums and collections subjects are designed to be flexible including online and intensive delivery options that enable you to complete your degree qualification and work at the same time.   
This ANU graduate stream has fostered close links with large and small cultural institutions who are leaders within the cultural sector. We have links with organisations including: the National Museum of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the Australian War Memorial, the Museum of Australian Democracy and the National Trust. Highly qualified and experienced representatives from these organisations teach into our courses enabling our program to respond to the latest developments and innovations in professional practice and research. These links allow the courses to respond to key issues of current relevance to museums, galleries and other cultural collecting institutions.
The Museums and Collections stream equips students with a unique combination of practical, problem-solving and critical research skills vital for working in both larger cultural organisations  and in smaller-scale museums or collecting institutions (house museums, community museums, smaller heritage sites, regional museums and galleries). The close relationships we have fostered with museums in the sector, particularly the National Museum of Australia, provides students with opportunities to undertake internships units at and/or complete research subjects involving these organisations. This enables our students to build professional networks within the Museums and Collections sector.
The Museums and Collections stream compliments academic excellence with a strong professional emphasis, enabling it to remain at the forefront of current research and issues confronting museums, galleries, and other cultural and collecting institutions.

Who studies Museums and Collections?

This specialisation is particularly relevant to people who are already working in, or who seek to work across a diverse range of areas relating to Museums and Collections. This might include:
  • Recent Australian and international graduates wishing to gain a professional degree in order to enter the professional museums, collections or heritage sectors.
  • Individuals already working within the cultural, collections or heritage sectors who may use the program as professional development for career enhancement.
  • Individuals  who are looking for a 'career' change into the cultural, collections or heritage sectors.
  • Members of the general public with undergraduate qualifications who have an interest in Museums and Collections and who want to return to study. (You may be a volunteer at a cultural institution, a member of a friends' organisation or an active contributor to your local historical association.)
  • Individuals working at small-scale museum, collection institution, heritage site, tourist site or similar organisation who wish to gain further practical skills and knowledge of how to interpret and present exhibitions, manage museums, market museums, negotiate with communities, develop audiences etc.
  • Individuals already working in the Cultural collections or heritage sectors or public service who wish to extend their understanding of museum practice, and who seek to contextualise it through academic research. The program is also a pathway to Doctoral research.
  • Employees of organisations that work across the museums/cultural Heritage sector (Eg Government organisations, world heritage organisations, Indigenous organisations and so on)

Why ANU?

ANU is ranked as the top Australian University internationally. It has terrific facilities, highly-qualified staff and provides a positive learning environment tailored to the needs of students.   Museums and Collections is unique for its focus on and access to a wide range of national institutions and for being jointly sponsored by the National Museum of Australia. We have an active internship program and in many cases are able to secure internships at the institutions of the student’s choice allowing students to build their professional networks.
We have an active series of seminars, public lectures and workshops delivered by professionals in their field.View current events at:
To join the Museumsheritage email list: subscribe here!

Coursework available

We pride ourselves on offering a wide range of topics in Museums and Collections. Our courses range from introductory courses to intensive practice-based courses in subjects including Exhibition design and delivery, and management of small museums. We regularly review courses and respond to feedback from industry and current students by developing new courses according to need and demand.

We welcome distance-education students and have deliberately designed the courses to be available online and/or in intensive mode (5-7 days).

For a full list of courses offered please visit Study At ANU or contact the program convenor.

Career opportunities

Courses in Museums and Collections have a strong career orientation, opening many possible doors. The specialisation offers training for employment in museums, galleries and other cultural institutions. The course uniquely combines practical skills with a strong emphasis on critical analysis, research, problem solving and effective communication. The courses also provide valuable training for future managers in the arts, heritage and collections sectors and more broadly across the public service and private enterprise. Employment opportunities may include: manager of a gallery, museum or heritage site, arts administrator, curator, educator, public programs officer, heritage interpretation officer, cultural event manager and so on.

Other specialisations

Courses from each of the other specialisations may be taken as part of the degrees specialising in Museums and Collections.  For more information about the courses available in each field follows the links to Cultural and Environmental Heritage, Visual Culture Research and Writing, World Histories and Lives.

How to apply

Applicants should apply directly to the University for entry into this program. Online applications can be completed at ANU Apply Online  

Further details on graduate study at ANU are available at Graduate Study at ANU

For more information

Contact the Museums and Collections specialisation convenor:
Dr Sharon Peoples

Updated: 7 August 2012/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSHA / Page Contact:  Web developer