This September sees the start of the MA Anthropology & Museum Practice; a collaboration between Goldsmiths, University of London and the Horniman Museum & Gardens.
The course will be convened by Lecturer in Anthropology, Dr Charlotte Joy, who also works for the museum.
As well as providing a unique opportunity for students to develop both academic knowledge and practical professional skills, the course also gives students a rare chance to learn first-hand from the transformation and extensive collection of artefacts in the World Gallery.
I spoke to Dr Joy as applications for the new course opened.
Chris Smith: Can you explain a little about your work with the Horniman and the new World Gallery?
Charlotte Joy: I am working at the museum as one of the Deputy Keepers of Anthropology and my role includes supporting the use of the anthropological collections in research, working on an exciting new collaborative studio space and running the new Goldsmiths/Horniman MA.
The Horniman Museum's new World Gallery is opening on 29 June. Over 3,000 objects will be displayed following a major redevelopment of the historic South Hall. It provides a bright setting for the Horniman’s world-class anthropology collection. As well as displaying many objects that haven't been seen for a generation, the museum has made new acquisitions and special commissions from artists from across the world, and I'm very excited to be involved in it.
CS: How important is the new link with Horniman Museum in the new MA?
CJ: The link with the museum is going to allow us to provide a unique learning environment for MA students. It is such an exciting time for students to become part of the Horniman's anthropological community. It will allow them to critically evaluate and apply what they are learning through courses such as Material Culture, Museum Anthropology and Museum Practice. They will be taught by museum professionals who will support them in understanding both the opportunities and challenges within the museum setting and help think about their own career and research ambitions.
The World Gallery from above
CS: How will the chance to work with such a respected institution benefit students?
CJ: One of the main advantages of working with the Horniman is that the students will be able to tap in to professional networks - through for example the Museums Ethnographer's Group (MEG) conference that will be held at the Horniman in April 2019 and use these networks to think strategically about their dissertations and future research plans.
CS: What other skills will this course equip students with?
CJ: Any MA in anthropology will provide students with a critical new lens through which to see the world. Research in anthropology is about the fundamental questions of what it means to be human: questions about dignity, love, kinship and futures. Students of anthropology learn to de-center their thinking and apply it to the challenges of nationalism, migration, the post-colonial landscape, cultural rights, social inclusion and so on.
The museum setting is a particularly apt space in which to hone these skills as theory is materialised in to exhibitions, outreach work, collaborative art practices and community based learning projects. The MA will therefore provide students with a very broad range of practical, evaluative and analytical skills that will be applicable to whatever they choose to do next.
Nick Merriman, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum & Gardens added: "Education has been at the heart of the Horniman Museum and Gardens since 1901, when Frederick Horniman gave his building and collections to the people 'for their recreation, instruction and enjoyment'. We're delighted to be continuing his legacy by partnering with Goldsmiths, sharing our world-class anthropology collections, curatorial expertise and experience of creating the new World Gallery with the next generation of anthropologists and museum professionals."