COLUMNS

In order to conserve their collections, most museum galleries begin with a sign prohibiting food or drink. For most of the history of museums, food and collections have been at odds. While museums tend to collect objects to tell enduring stories, food is so temporary and common it can be overlooked. However, the emerging field of food studies is making inroads into museum studies and once you start seeing through food-oriented lenses, the evidence is everywhere. This column will explore the surprising intersections of food and museums through cafes, exhibitions, and artifacts.

What do you define as a museum? Beyond Tradition explores the museum practices that influence, inspire and impact the works of institutions beyond traditional history museums and art galleries. This column provides a home for discussions surrounding the works of science centres, aquariums, zoos, national parks, archaeological sites, and much more! What museum theories and practices do these institutions showcase and what can more traditional museums learn from their practice?

Recent publications, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action (2015), ask cultural heritage organizations to participate in national reconciliation and public education. These actions join the long history of indigenous peoples requests to redefine their place in cultural heritage organizations. This column is dedicated to exploring the history, development, and relationships between indigenous individuals, communities, and cultural heritage organizations. 

At the heart of any great museum, library, or archive is its collection. Musings’ Collections Corner column explores the many unique and diverse collections in cultural institutions around the world, while delving into the significance of objects and their stories. This column covers a wide range of topics and themes, including the stories our collections tell, debates over historical artefacts, and how our collections are kept safe. As well, Collections Corner introduces readers to the adventurous and sometimes chaotic world of collections management.

Exhibition Reviews wants you to put on your museum hat, get out to a museum near you, and see some excellent exhibitions! This column offers reviews of various carefully-selected exhibitions to get readers to think critically about what they are looking at when they enter a museum. The reviews raise questions about upcoming, current, or past exhibitions of particular note-worthiness to the writer and museum professionals more broadly. Exhibition Reviews include looking at the ways in which knowledge / stories are presented to the public, focusing on the facets of museology and display that together help shape exhibitions that are truly worth visiting. In the past, museum exhibitions across Ontario and elsewhere in the world (ex. London, England) have been selected for review, and reviews often take different shapes and forms in order to both educate and entertain.

Though heritage may be the legacy of past cultures, places and landscapes, it is very much alive. It shapes how we understand who we are and prompts celebration and contestation. Bringing together ideas from a broad scope of disciplines – including art, architecture, archaeology, history, anthropology, geography, and urban planning – Heritage Moments considers how traces of the past are used today and preserved for tomorrow.

Please note that this column is reserved for the summer months when MMSt internships occur.


Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) students have the option to complete an internship in the summer between their first and second years of study in the program. The first portion of their experience is spent in the classroom learning about how to make the most of their internship, and the second is spent in a host institution for at least three months over the summer (May – August). The internship is an incredibly exciting opportunity for students to explore an area they are interested in pursuing career-wise in the museum field. Past experiences have taken interns all over Canada and the world to various institutions: New York and London, England are two locations our students have enjoyed! Our Internship Check-In column highlights perspectives from interns while they are on the job to promote a culture of knowledge-sharing and peer support during the summer for MMSt students.

Museums learn about and share stories of all kinds relating to the world around us, but they aren't always clear. Questions come up all the time, whether they are from academics, descendant communities or curious members of the public. Sometimes there is no frame of reference, other times, there is a partial picture preserved and yet other times heritage is lost, stolen, or even destroyed. In many cases, there are things that are simply overlooked completely in a blind spot away from our preconceived expectations. This column tries to present, record and encourage questions about the mysteries we might find relating to museums so that we can try to see the stories of objects, peoples and/or places differently.

Museums are constantly making headlines worldwide. From new museum directors, to museum openings, to scandals at the museum, there is no shortage of museum news. Musings’ Muse News column brings some of the biggest museum news stories to the spotlight. This column aims to analyze museum news worldwide in the context of critical issues in museum studies.

What is happening in museums across the globe? This column highlights international museums and cultural institutions as experienced and/or researched by Museum Studies students. Articles will explore themes such as programming and exhibitions, design, interpretation and technology, safety and conservation issues, accessibility, and the visitor experience. Readers will be able to gain more knowledge of museum offerings abroad as they relate to current museological issues.

The Research Column is a space to explore new ideas and showcase the range of work being done by students in the University of Toronto’s Master of Museum Studies program. Posts in this column include updates on thesis projects, exhibition projects, and adaptations of independent research; less formal posts about the process of conducting research; and more recently, iSchool students' analysis of museological theory. The Research Column welcomes proposals from any and all inquiring minds within the program. To submit a proposal or to learn more about writing for the column, contact us here to send us an email!

This column is dedicated to women in museums. Women, defined in the most inclusive sense of the word (womyn, transwomen, women of colour, women in the LGBTQ2A community), have always figured in museums as subjects, employees, volunteers, curators, and founders. This Column will celebrate the amazing stories of women in museums. So read on and let us introduce our museum muses.

The Walk of Fame column looks at individuals (but is not limited to just human beings) that have anything to do with museums, galleries, or heritage sites. Whoever is spotlighted might have worked at a museum, been an important political leader that was recently featured in an exhibition, a famous artist, or a former owner of a house-now-turned into a historic site... the list goes on. The column looks at their biography, their significance, and any other important or interesting facts.