Theses/Dissertations - Museum Studies

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    Easier said than done : assessing Texas museums’ readiness to diversify their workforces.
    (August 2022) Reid, Kaleigh C., 1998-; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-
    The museum has long been perceived as one of the great stalwarts of our society, a position that does not often come with much scrutiny, allowing museums to carry on much like they always have. This lack of pressure to change have left museums with a workforce that does not reflect the communities they claim to represent. This complacency, combined with the fraught history of museums, does not make the field particularly enticing to a diverse workforce that would close the gap in representation between staff and society. This project aims to assess the museum field in Texas’s ability to diversify. This is done by asking the current workforce of Texas museums to provide their opinions and insights on how well they feel their institutions are doing in their efforts to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in every part of the institution.
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    Analysis of current practices in natural history museums’ in the interpretation of mammoths with implications for the Mayborn Museum Complex.
    (2021-08-11) Yard, Maree M., 1990-; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Walter, Charles H.
    For this thesis I gathered current practices in the interpretation of mammoths by sending a 14-question survey, distributed to U.S. natural history museums. My purpose for doing so was to inform my recommendations regarding future exhibit renovations at the Mayborn Museum Complex. I have recommended a three phase renovation plan for the museum, supported by the data collected. The first phase centers on the Mammoth Site exhibit, to be implemented immediately. The second phase encompasses a new exhibit in the former Extinction Hall, for in the near term. The third phase is for the future Natural History Hall, to be facilitated in the long-term. Specifically, I made recommendations regarding the types of interpretive methods that should be included in the exhibits and possible exhibit themes. Of the 12 methods of interpretation offered on the survey, five could be included in the future exhibit development of the Natural History Hall at the Mayborn Museum Complex. The five methods of interpretation that could be used are the articulated mammoth skeleton, individual fossils, replicas, images, and staff/ volunteer demonstrations.
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    To survive or thrive : exhibit development in the age of Covid.
    (2021-04-28) Bullard, William Richard, 1997-; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-
    In 2020, the Texas museum field was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the national protests that broke out after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Using three cultural institutions as case studies (the Pearce Museum at Navarro College, Baylor Libraries, and Rienzi House and Gardens at Museum of Fine Arts Houston) and a survey, this thesis examines the impact of these two events. Each institution had its own struggles to overcome as they dealt with both events. Each institution had to decide: to survive or to thrive. Their decisions can serve as inspiration that can help influence the museum field no matter the differing circumstances.
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    Past vs. president : interpretation and public approval at the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
    (2020-04-29) MacDonald, Emily L., 1996-; McCray, Kimberly.
    Presidential libraries are institutions not wholly public nor completely private. Their distinct structure has inspired a body of work which paints these centers as presidential temples, sites of self-commemoration, memory, and biased history. Biased interpretations can have many consequences especially in regard to the assumed trustworthiness of museums in America. Consequently, this thesis explores this idea of commemoration via the lens of museum studies. Using the George W. Bush library in Dallas, Texas as a case study, this research examines interpretation of events correlated to particularly low points of public approval for the former president within the museum galleries to determine if this bias is present in the most recent presidential library to join NARA.
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    "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" : an examination of legal and ethical considerations concerning LGBTQ+ populations and collections in museums.
    (2020-04-30) Royal, Victoria Anne, 1996-; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-
    The shift in institutional purpose from recreation to education in the 20th century forced museums to reconcile their collections and interpretations with modern, diverse audiences. Now in the 21st century, museums are beginning to reconcile with a new audience: sexual and gender minorities. Following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, museums nationwide began acquiring LGBTQ+ collections. With this new surge of collecting, this paper seeks to examine and analyze the ethical and legal protections being afforded to collections related to sexual and gender minorities within private, general, and federal institutions in order to gain a better understanding of the treatment of these collections in the museum field.
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    Scientific racism, mass collecting, and NAGPRA : a study of the transformation of relationships between museums, anthropology, and the public from the late 19th century to the 21st century.
    (2019-04-18) Barnum, Krista Michelle, 1995-; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-
    Humankind has collected materials and remains for centuries as a way to depict social status, educate, and fascinate. The relationships between anthropologists and museums in the late 19th and early 20th century set the foundation for both disciplines to make their mark in academia and public discourse. As public fascination with the “other” and racial differences took the center stage in the minds of many Americans, museum exhibitions highlighting Native American cultures and other cultures that anthropologists deemed “savage” or “less civilized” became a normalized practice. Numerous museums around the country amassed large collections of human remains to study using methods such as craniometrics and cranial morphology to compare racial anatomy. This thesis highlights the history of American anthropology, museums, and scientific racism as well as seeks to understand how the passage of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) affected the relationships between museums, anthropologists, the public, and Native Americans from 1990 to the present.
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    The material culture of the Polley Mansion, Whitehall : vernacular architecture, decorative arts, and domestic arts.
    (2018-12-05) Creech, Melinda, 1952-; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-
    The Polley Mansion, with its massive walls, generous proportions, and wide double galleries, is described in Texas Homes of the 19th Century as “one of the most important plantation homes in early Texas.” In fact, the Polley Mansion, constructed with native sandstone, is the only stone antebellum plantation house still surviving in Texas. The preservation of the house and the Polley family papers provide a unique record of details about the construction, furnishing, and management of the house. This investigation into the material culture of the Polley Mansion—its vernacular architecture, decorative arts, and domestic arts— draws upon those archives and others to provide a detailed picture of the Polley Whitehall Mansion. Through letters, maps, receipts, photographs, historic records, and newspaper articles we meet the family, and learn how they stake their claim, construct their house, furnish the rooms, keep their house, and make their home.
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    One for the books : a case study of the interpretation of personal libraries in historic house museums.
    (2016-03-04) Schumacher, Casey M., 1991-; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-
    Libraries in historic house museums often suffer identity confusion due to the varying interpretational methods of libraries and museums. Eighteenth century prodigy house museums in particular include large libraries that, although they often reveal a great deal about their owners’ character and life, are often passed over in museum interpretation. This is often due to the fact that books are not consistently recognized as objects of material culture among museum professionals. Eighteenth century print culture, however, suggests that books from this time period should be considered authentic signposts for both public and private behavior. Whether or not a historic house museum chooses to acknowledge these signposts is often determined by each institution’s respective mission, audience and resources.
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    A case study of the Colonial Revival, collecting, and museum making in Texas.
    (2005-05) Clark, Eleanor K.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    Miss Ima Hogg dedicated her life to creating a cultural and historical legacy in the state of Texas. An avid collector and patroness of the arts, she was responsible for the creation of three museums, each unique in purpose. This master's thesis discusses the life of Miss Hogg as the daughter of a legendary governor and as a philanthropist, but most particularly as the founder of three important museums. Hogg's interest in collecting art and antiques began in her youth and continued until her death at age ninety-three. The intent of this thesis is to demonstrate how her collecting progressed over several decades and to compare and contrast the Vamer-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site, Bayou Bend, and the Winedale Historical Center. Further, this thesis will analyze the evolution of her thinking about museums and evaluate the degree to which she reflected the expectation of her social class and the age in which she lived.
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    Curating the composer : preserving and interpreting our musical heritage through composer house museums.
    (2014-01-28) MacDonald, Whitney C.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    Although historic house museums, especially those in which political or community leaders once lived, are quite common and have been analyzed by museum scholars, the sub-genre of historic houses in which European classical composers lived has not been explored in as great a depth. The purpose of this thesis is to review the history of house museums dedicated to interpreting a composer who once lived there. Following a discussion of the literature on the subject and the methods used in my research, one chapter will explore the history and current operations of several key composer house museums, and another will present a case study of one specific composer house museum. The former chapter is informed not only by mastering the literature on the subject but also by taking a European research trip in March 2012, which allowed me to experience the interpretations and to appreciate the rich variety of approaches used. The latter chapter focuses on the Handel House Museum in London, first examining in detail a master’s thesis which was quite literally a blueprint for the museum, and then exploring the ways in which that blueprint was realized. This thesis documents the diverse ways in which these museums bring to life these composers and their music.
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    The Civil War as it relates to museums in Texas : four case studies.
    (2013-09-16) Rebman, Michael P.; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    The purpose of this paper is to investigate the interpretive methods and narratives used by the Texas Heritage Museum, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Texas Civil War Museum, and the Pearce Museum in Texas, in order to determine how they interpret the Civil War and the involvement of Texas. By studying the objects, text panels, and other elements of the exhibits through a combination of observation and interviews with executive staff at the museums, the case studies reveal that the museums employ a combination of academic and popular history. The juxtaposition of older and modern museum methodologies demonstrates a lack of unity within the museum field in Texas.
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    Plunder and profit : museums, private collectors, and Nazi looted art.
    (2013-09-16) Stanley, Mary Ellen.; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    Throughout World War II, looting was an activity that was widely embraced by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States Armed Forces. Although the natures of looting varied among these specific entities, every theft left a mark on the history of art in both the private and public collections of Europe. The repercussions continue to affect the contemporary art world and museum collections practices. Owing to the lack of standards in the museum field, works with questionable provenance lie in museum's collections that detrimentally affect museums' public service missions and their accountability to the public. As a result an ethical quagmire is created in which museums must re-evaluate their collections management practices and acknowledge the realities of the art market in order to remain within ethical practices. This thesis investigates World War II looting, restitution efforts, cases, and the contemporary challenges museums are facing with Nazi looted art.
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    Integrating African American house types into historic villages : three historic Texas houses and their respective museums.
    (2013-09-16) Stell, Amy Lynn.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Dallas Heritage Village.; The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    Recent studies of the African experience in North America have resulted in the analysis of African contributions to American material culture. European colonization of the New World led to the inclusion of African building practices into the European architectural repertoire. The integration of African architectural forms into the segregated urban neighborhoods of the South resulted in the construction of ethnically diverse house types. The study of building types in the South has identified three historic house museums in Texas that are directly associated with African American occupants and builders. This thesis explores the ethnic distinctiveness of the Shotgun House located at Dallas Heritage Village, and the Fourth Ward Cottage and Yates House located at The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park through a material culture perspective. Further investigation of the houses’ respective architectural forms, owner and occupant history, and neighborhoods in conjunction with recent scholarship will clarify their historic significance.
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    Labels on the altar : the convergence of worship and learning in British church museums.
    (2013-09-16) Dodson, Sarah E.; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    Church museums are atypical institutions that foster both worship of God and learning of the history of the building and its people. A conflict often arises between these two roles of worship center and museum, which can easily lead to misunderstanding or even outright misappropriation of the relationship between the institutions and the public. What are their ultimate purposes, how can staff and volunteers work to achieve those purposes, and how can the purposes be effectively communicated to the public? This thesis discusses the historical importance of these institutions in Britain and how they can best serve in their peculiar functions of sacred faith and secular display in the modern world.
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    Peach Point Plantation, Jones Creek, Texas : documenting the material culture of the Austin, Perry and Bryan families.
    (2012-11-29) Farone, Rebecca Ann.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    This thesis examines the remains of Peach Point Plantation main house in Jones Creek, Brazoria County, Texas to interpret the Austin, Bryan, and Perry families through their remaining material culture. The Austins, Bryans, and Perrys comprised a unique family with a keen interest in the progress of mankind. Their sacrifices and loyalty deserve extra attention and can be seen in their material culture. The work to date on Peach Point has been useful in documenting the facts, but bringing its material culture to light will help this period be understood. The fact that this house is not available to the public and is not in good shape brought about the idea of recording the house and its history before it is gone, this being the next best thing to being able to visit it.
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    "Not only creators, but also interpreters" : artist/curators in contemporary practice.
    (2012-08-08) Restauri, Jennifer L.; Edwards, Katie Robinson, 1964-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    The role of artists in contemporary museums and university galleries has been shifting over the past fifty plus years as art has become a formally recognized discipline in the university setting and as museums have sought to diversify their staffs and provide a greater variety of educational programming. This thesis will look at the evolving duality of artist/curator in order to better define the role these professionals are fulfilling in the contemporary art museum and university gallery. Through the examination of case-studies as well as through primary research with contemporary museums and university galleries, this thesis will present current data defending the evolution and necessity of this dual-role to the post-modernization and survival of these institutions. Through this exploration, this thesis also aims to address the greater question of whether curatorial work can be considered an art form.
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    "Creating new archives and reinventing the old" : the development of authority and professionalization in archives and the challenges to them.
    (2012-08-08) Harbeson, Stephanie M.; Holcomb, Julie L., 1963-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    Archives management has developed from a subcategory of history to its own profession through measures such as guidelines for archival practices and access, as well as standards in education and certification, all of which established professionalization and authority. With the establishment of professionalization and authority there have been challenges to both the physical and intellectual contents of archives such as the questioning of the use of science to authentic documents, the alteration of the archival record through addition, theft, and alteration of documents, and the advocating of archives to expand their collections to include underrepresented groups. These challenges have caused archivists to reevaluate and alter their policies in order to better serve the community and preserve their collections.
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    "Palaces of art :" Victorian studio-houses in the museum context.
    (2012-08-08) Garner, Lara A.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    The Aesthetic Period of the late Victorian era produced a profusion of unique architectural forms known as “purpose-built studio-houses.” These combination domestic and work spaces were intentionally built and designed by the most famous artists of the day in the United States and the United Kingdom. Each home was an intimate expression of the artist’s philosophies and tastes. These artists represented the pinnacle of popular culture for their time, and the abundance of periodical and literary material related to these artists, their works of art, and most importantly, their studio-houses, reflects the significant role these artists played in the late Victorian era. After these artists died, many of their homes were destroyed, completely remodeled, or turned into museums. This thesis explores the journeys of the properties that became museums while also investigating how these studio-house museums are being conserved and interpreted for the public today.
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    Multiculturalism and the museum : three case studies.
    (2012-08-08) Fiegel, Natalie.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    With the rise of social history over the past several decades, educational institutions have increasingly been called upon to represent and showcase different cultural and minority groups within their walls. This has forced museums to reevaluate their exhibit spaces in order to create more inclusive, diverse interpretations. Basic museum practices have been challenged and the role of the museum has been called into question. Case studies of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Oklahoma History Center, and the New Mexico History Museum showcase the different approaches museums today are taking within their exhibits to create as authentic and unbiased portrayals of different cultures past and present as possible.
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    For the old, rich, and cultured? Historic house museums and their relationship with young adults.
    (2012-08-08) Carrington, Emily Lynn.; Hafertepe, Kenneth, 1955-; Museum Studies.; Baylor University. Dept. of Museum Studies.
    It has been traditionally understood that young adults are not active participants in historic house museums. This is a concern because if it is true, it means that historic house museums are not fulfilling their responsibility to educate the public as they are not reaching a particular demographic. Also, by failing to attract young adults, historic house museums are not ensuring that future generations will fulfill the roles of board members volunteers and financial support. This study investigated this claim through surveys distributed to likely historic house museum visitors between the ages of 18 and 35. Through this research, this thesis examines the current relationship young adults have with historic house museums, possible causes of this current situation, and potential actions historic house museums can take in the future to strengthen this relationship.