New course for museologists

Just as Greece is gradually acquiring more museums, a new postgraduate program of museology at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki serves as a training ground for future museologists. The only degree in museology offered by a Greek university (a one-year degree will be offered jointly by the Athens Technical University and the University of Athens next year), it is a two-year, intensive course of study marked by limited attendance – only 14 students – by graduates in fields such as archaeology, architecture, art history and management, a mix which reflects on the interdisciplinary nature of museology. Organized and run by various departments of the university, the postgraduate museology program is directed by art historian and museologist Matoula Scaltsa. Chosen out of 140 applications, the program is subsidized by the European Community. According to Scaltsa, some of the distinctive aspects of the program are its training of architects as museologists – a combination which is apparently rare – and the fact that it trains its students to meet the particularities of the Greek infrastructure, whether in terms of management, sponsorship or government structure, all factors which vary from country to country. An emphasis on practice and field work (these will include visits to museums internationally beginning next year) is also an important aspect of the program. Asked about the professional prospect of museologists in a country where museums are limited in number, Scaltsa said the situation is gradually changing as museum officials are recognizing the need for museologists. The ways in which archaeological museums and their staffs (which represent the majority of museums in Greece) are gradually becoming independent of the ephorates and the archaeologists specializing in excavations was brought up by Scaltsa as an example of the growing demand for museologists. The program is also networked with other similar university programs in the field, among them those offered by the National School of Cultural Heritage in Paris, the Museum Studies Department of Manchester University, London’s City University’s Management Department and related departments in the universities of Florence and Stuttgart. Also adding to the program’s international networking effort is an international conference that is organized during the program’s final semester. Renowned figures in the field, such as Stanford University’s museologist and archaeology professor Michael Shanks, professor of archaeology at Cambridge Ian Hodder, and architects Mario Botta and Tadao Ado, have already agreed to participate. Proud of its new museology program, the Aristotle University is hosting a series of museum topic-related lectures to mark the launch of its program. In the first lectures held last week, participants included Artemis Zenetou, museologist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and president of the Fulbright Foundation, Kleio Karagiorgi, head of the Louvre’s graphic design department, and architecture historian Andreas Yiakoumakatos. The lecture series continues today and tomorrow at the large amphitheater (P. Panayiotopoulos Hall) of the Aristotle University (6 Egnatias) from 6-10 p.m. The presentation by three archaeological museums in Greece (the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens and the Delphi Museum) is scheduled for today, and the top three architectural designs awarded for the New Acropolis Museum will be presented tomorrow. The Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, who together with Michalis Fotiadis won the first prize, will be among tomorrow’s lecturers. Call 2310.995.543 for more information.