reimagining the museum 

Explore museum histories through an interdisciplinary, decolonial approach with a Critical Museum Studies minor. You'll engage in detailed examinations of the ways institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and classism have shaped histories of collecting, archiving and exhibiting. Throughout the program, you'll think and write critically about museum discourses while gaining hands-on experience with the fundamental skills necessary for careers in a variety of cultural institutions including collections handling, installation, preventive conservation and specialized writing. 

Student SpotlightLearning the Beginnings

lizzy nafz '24
major: history
minor: critical museum studies

For her Critical Museum Studies capstone, Lizzy examined the history of Norman Kent, a woodcut print maker and the first faculty member in the Colleges' Art and Architecture department. 


Experiential EducationHands on Creation

Studying Critical Museum Studies at Hobart and William Smith means exploring art institutions up close. Intern at the Colleges' Davis Art Gallery. Work with local artists at the Dove Block Project. Visit galleries in New York City or do research at the Women's Rights National Historical Park.

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors to career opportunities. 

See the opening of the provenzano gallery 

provenzano art gallery

Opened in Fall 2022, the Provenzano Student Art Gallery (PSAG) is an exciting new student-run space at the heart of campus in the Scandling Center. The Gallery is staffed through six half-credit internship positions that are available each semester: two gallery directors, two gallery managers, and two exhibitions and installation coordinators. Students are selected from a pool of applicants generated from a campus-wide call open to folks in all disciplines. The student-intern staff work collaboratively to plan, design, install, coordinate and promote a series of art exhibitions and events of their choosing. The process of selecting the student work featured in the space is facilitated entirely by the interns who write and distribute calls for art, ideally in conversation with student groups or other campus collaborators with a shared investment in supporting the arts on campus in an inclusive and equitable manner. 

Interns are supervised by the PSAG faculty coordinator, a two-year appointment open to faculty from within any discipline. Currently, Associate Professor of Art and Architecture Angelique Szymanek is serving in this role. Faculty, students and staff with an interest in using this space for events, collaborative projects, pedagogical initiatives or other activities are encouraged to reach out to Szymanek to coordinate. The space remains an important hub for Student Activities and can also be booked for events via 25Live.  


No Borders:Global Education

Explore world famous museums in Rome or the legacy of colonization in collections in England.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.



Belonging, Diversity and Equity

Critical Museum Studies emphasizes the examination of ways that histories of colonization have shaped the material circulation of ideas and culture, including practices of collecting, conservation, exhibition and public programming. The classes in this program address issues including systemic racism, gender inequity and classism, among other issues of social injustice and their numerous intersections.



Discover the wide-branching and expansive reach of the world of museums. 

See below for sample courses:

cmst/arth 214 introduction to critical museum studies

Gain an introduction to the history and theory of museums, institutional collecting and the interpretation of culture.

hist 348 public history

Explore the origins and evolution of public history from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

ENV 309 Environmental Change in the Indigenous World

Analyze the impact of global processes on Indigenous environments and on Indigenous efforts to resist and revitalize.

anth 273 research methods

Learn the basic issues and fundamental trends of social research, including the logic of inquiry, research design and sampling in social data. 


Alum Impact

HWS alums work in a wide variety of museums, galleries and cultural institutions. After studying Critical Museum Studies, you'll have the skills to work at locations including: 

  • Addison Art Gallery
  • Archives of American Art
  • Arizona History Museum
  • Buffalo Botanical Gardens
  • Carnegie Museum of Natural History
  • Carrie Secrist Gallery
  • Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Children's Museum Pittsburgh
  • Christie's
  • Clark Art Institute
  • Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
  • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Corning Museum of Glass
  • DC Moore Gallery
  • Dienst & Dotter
  • ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
  • Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance
  • Eric Firestone Gallery
  • Everson Museum of Art
  • Gladstone Gallery
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts
  • International Tennis Hall of Fame
  • Kent Public Library
  • Langley-Adams Library
  • Longwood Gardens
  • Mariner's Museum and Park
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • MoMA
  • Monroe Gallery of Photography
  • Montgomery County Public Libraries
  • Mount Pleasant Public Library
  • Muncy Public Library
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Museum of Science, Boston
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • National Gallery of Art
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • National Women's Hall of Fame
  • New York Public Library
  • North Carolina Museum of Art
  • Norwich Public Library
  • PA Historical & Museum Commission
  • Pace Gallery
  • Paddle8
  • Phillips Auction House
  • Please Touch Museum
  • Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
  • Pope Memorial Library
  • Reed Memorial Library
  • Rogers Memorial Library
  • Shelburne Museum
  • Simic Galleries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
  • Sotheby's
  • Soufer Gallery
  • Sue and Leon Genet Gallery
  • The Brandt Foundation Arts Study Center
  • The Hispanic Society of America
  • The Metropolitan Museum
  • The Montana Natural History Center
  • The Morse Institute Library
  • The New York Public Library
  • The Tall Ship Glenlee
  • The Wild Center
  • The Witte Museum
  • Thomas Colville Fine Arts
  • Tokyo Station Gallery
  • UCCA Center for Contemporary Art
  • University of Buffalo Art Galleries
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art
  • Watertown Free Public Library
  • Winton Branch Library
  • Women's Rights National Historical Park
  • Worcester Art Museum
  • Yale University