Hannah Gaston has always had a love of history as she grew up travelling to national parks, historic sites, and of course, museums. After completing her B.A. in History summa cum laude, she left her small town in upstate New York to pursue her M.A. in Museum Professions, a graduate program within the College of Communication and the Arts. She selected this unique program to launch her career and be one step closer to her goal of becoming a museum educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Gaston credits a visit to the Medieval Arms and Armor section of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a child for her career aspirations saying that, “it was an eye-opening and memorable trip, and from then on I have been set on the path of museum education.”
While interning at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, Gaston met the curator of photography who is an alumna of the University’s Museum Professions program. Through this alumna, Gaston witnessed firsthand how influential the program was in preparing someone for a career in museums and other cultural institutions. Hearing how this graduate began as an intern at the Newark Museum and how coursework complemented her real-world experience made Gaston’s selection of graduate school simple.
Since arriving at the University, Gaston has received great guidance from the program’s faculty. She credits her faculty mentors for helping her pursue the Museum Education track. “The program’s faculty takes difficult topics like educational theory, understanding state curriculum, writing lesson plans, creating essential questions, and defining big ideas and makes them accessible and understandable for students who are new to museum education.”
Gaston supplements her coursework with a graduate assistantship and internship. She currently holds a graduate assistantship for Graduate Studies within the College of Communication and the Arts, where she manages the Institute of Museum Ethics’ blog, writes engagement materials, and crafts the program’s forthcoming digital newsletter, Musings.
At her internship for the Liberty Hall Museum in Union, New Jersey, she assists with the design and delivery of interactive educational programs for school age and adult audiences. Additionally, she provides support in the creation of outreach programming and develops marketing campaigns to promote those programs.
Gaston concluded that “museum education is not just about leading tours, but it is about creating programs specifically designed for your audience. For me, this opportunity is giving me the chance to do what I love – to share and teach history.”
The M.A. in Museum Professions is designed for individuals interested in pursuing careers in museums or related cultural institutions. Students in the program select one of four professional tracks, including Museum Education, Museum Registration, Museum Management, or Exhibition Development. All students in the program complete a 200-hour for-credit internship. A dedicated internship supervisor assists with placement and an internship directory is available to students.
The College currently offers three Master's-level programs, including Museum Professions, Strategic Communication, and Public Relations. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered. A Ph.D. program is currently under development.
Categories: Arts and Culture