Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Dr. Cynthia Conides, Ph.D.

First Reader

Dr. Cynthia Conides, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Reine Hauser


Shifts in the philosophy and practices that guide museums have changed the way we collect and what we collect. However, professional standards and expectations related to the management and use of those collections have largely remained unaltered. Museum professionals are repeatedly confronted by the impracticality and near impossibility of achieving accepted professional standards when managing collections. It is clear that the profession needs to rethink the practices and policies that shape our daily work assumptions, but where do we begin? Using Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle as a guide, we will rearticulate our purpose and reexamine the practices that get in our way. I believe that museums are unique in their ability to use objects to tell stories, to make meaning, and to connect visitors with the past, others, and even themselves. Understanding human – object relationships helps us articulate why objects matter to people and why objects really belong in museums. With this in mind we can see how vital it is that our collections become relevant once again; that our collections serve our missions, relate to our audiences, and most importantly have a useful life outside of storage in exhibition and programs. Our goal as professionals should be to enhance our collections’ meaning, vitality, and use, not preserve them into irrelevance. To accomplish this, we need to encourage thoughtful acquisitions, streamline deaccessioning, and simplify cataloging and preservation practices. We must expand the way we talk about and think about objects and make our collections more inclusive.