Director’s Message


Thank you for your interest in the Museum Studies and Public Engagement Program at the University of Delaware. Our Program is among the country’s the oldest and best-known training grounds for students interested in museums, archives, and other agencies and organizations focused on sharing expertise with the broader public. Its distinction and reputation come from two core approaches that have evolved with the times while remaining at the heart of the Program since its founding almost fifty years ago in 1972.

Graduate students participating in the 2018 Museum Studies Collections-AID program at the Rockwood Museum in Wilmington, DE. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)

First, our Program is rooted in an ethic of service, both to communities and to the field. Our courses feature team-based projects with local communities or institutions, introducing students to the collaborative processes by which museums and other public repositories engage diverse audiences and build sustained dynamic relationships with them through cultivated curiosity and dialogue. Beyond coursework, most of our students join our “Collections AID” team every January to contribute quick but intensive collections assistance to small community organizations with limited staff. Since 2010, this voluntary project series has donated over 4,500 hours to improve collections care and documentation at nearly a dozen sites in and around Delaware. In addition, our Program maintains Sustaining Places, a free online encyclopedia of resources for museum management. Our students also help staff local museum associations and conferences, where they gain extra insight and networking opportunities. All these experiences are supported by our substantial internship requirement. The hours and time our students put into identifying, developing, and completing their internships, along with the service ethic infused into the entire program, means that many of our students volunteer with associations in the field and with a wide range of community organizations. Such demonstrable commitment to service often yields benefits on the job market, and I invite you to explore our alumni page to see where our students go.

Prof. Cohen with the Director of the National Museum of Côte d’Ivoire during his Fulbright work to document the museum’s collections in 2015-17.

Our second core approach involves offering a broad range of technical skills. While many similar programs offer specialized tracks, ours was conceived as training for institutional leaders who need specific training across many types of work in the field. From collections management to community co-curation strategies, and digital skills to non-profit financial and fundraising literacy, our courses’ prioritization of praxis over theory means that students acquire applicable skills that help them better understand and function across departments at large institutions and in leadership roles at smaller ones. Please check out our course offerings to see what I mean.

As an alumnus of the Program (’02), I am excited to continue its traditions while developing new courses and curriculum standards that will ensure our graduates remain prepared to serve and lead communities as we strive for greater inclusion, understanding, and justice in public engagement that takes place in person and online.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.


Kenneth Cohen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History
Director, Museum Studies & Public Engagement Program