• Raison d'Être

  • Goals

  • Attributes

  • Missions

  • Program

Raison d'Être
Globalization and corresponding localization / nativist trends require that we examine and consider the fundamental nature of our rapidly growing number of museums as well as carefully reflect upon their meaning and value to society. Museums are non-neutral. Rather, they use theory and practice to integrate and present issues that are inherently interdisciplinary. Today, we can see that distinct museum types generate distinct meaning systems and values. We can also see that increasing participation in global museum networks demands that the Taiwan museum sector face and overcome myriad critical issues related not only to technology, but also its very essence.    
Museums and museology are inherently pragmatic and museum knowledge is closely intertwined with daily life. As such, contemporary museums and museology seek to couch their value and meaning in human behavior rather than particular academic ideologies. The new museology that emerged in the second half of the 20th century embraced elements of humanism and was an integrative field of study. In addition to emphasizing new problem-solving approaches and contextualism, new museology looks to explain the etiology of things as well as their continuities and hierarchical interrelationships. In order to achieve social relevance, museums must harmonize identity with values, knowledge with facts, methodologies with objectives, and theory with practice. As part of accomplishing their role as a developer and sharer of experience and knowledge, museums should incorporate instrumentalist functions into their interpretations and communications in order to be able to participate in sociocultural reconstruction.

Social and cultural change affects how societies define and perceive their museums. In its statement on establishing exceptional museums for the 21st century, the Museum Association of the UK said that current socio-economic pressures have broadened the role of today’s museums as centers of popular science / art education and lifelong learning. Today’s museums are civic and community spaces; agents of social change and intercultural understanding; catalysts for creativity; key partners of travel and tourism; centers of research and renovation; and centers of bio-cultural diversity. When we perceive them as active agents of cultural research, we give museums new horizons for greater purpose and growth.
Museology is the study of the museum. The mission of TNUA’s Graduate Institute of Museum Studies goes beyond doing exceptional basic research on current issues in Taiwan museology. Our programs pursue complementary growth in both knowledge and practice; discuss the social and cultural relevance of the museum sector; and explore issues related to heritage protection and conservation nationwide in order to help ensure our work is of practical benefit to society.

Our institute has planned our short, mid- and long-term goals. We have continued to cooperate with different museums and public sectors (such as the Ministry of Science& Technology; the Cultural Heritage Bureau, Ministry of Culture; local Cultural Affairs Departments, and etc.), and shoot for different cooperating opportunities and resources, reaching our goals strategically toward becoming a pivotal research center of Museum Studies in Asia.

The short-term goals

We have accomplished establishing close connection and exchange agreements with museums and Museology research centers in Asia and Europe, through organizing seminars, workshops and publishing books jointly.

Expand our students’ global perspective and research fields, allowing them to conduct fieldwork research in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore as well as other museums in Southeast Asia; and through this, forming a database of Asian Museography.

The mid-term goals

Expand books and journal resources of Museology in our library’s collection. We have obtained a 3 million grant to purchase museum exhibition and collection related books by the Ministry of Technology from June 2014, and will actively enrich professional materials on European, American and Asian Museology written in Chinese, English, French and Japanese.
Expand students’ international perspective, such as inviting visiting scholars and managing overseas fieldworks, internship and exchange student programs.

The long-term goals
Establish international research teams and teaching programs, and invite visiting scholars to research and teach in our institution.
2. Become the research and exchange center of Museum Studies in Asia.
Joining Together Interdisciplinary Attributes and Resources
A. TNUA Advantages and Resources 
The National Taipei University of the Arts maintains numerous graduate-level programs related to museums and the performance arts. These are delivered through the TNUA Graduate Institutes of Art History, Creative Arts, Design Arts, Technology Arts, Drama & Theater, Theatrical Arts, Musicology, Performance & Creative Dance, Art Administration & Management, Architecture & Cultural Heritage, and Filmmaking as well as TNUA Departments of Theatrical Design & Technology and Fine Arts. Campus spaces suited to the display, exhibition and interpretation of art in various formats include TNUA’s Performance Theater, Dance Theater, Huang Shan Theater, 929 Amphitheater (outdoor), Music Theater, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, and Ecological Arts Complex Movie Theatre as well as planned facilities such as the TNUA Museum of Performance Arts, organized to exhibit and interpret the artistic “tools of the trade” of TNUA’s various performance art departments (e.g., stage design, costume production, props production, setting planning / design, lighting).    
The above are all education resources critical to TNUA’s Graduate Institute of Museum Studies. TNUA has consistently used a “university museums” framework to encourage dynamic sharing among the various art disciplines. Our ability to tap into TNUA’s exceptional faculty resources not only facilitates our program, but also further enhances TNUA’s overall capabilities and growth. Ability to tap other departments’ expertise in the performance, visual and other arts benefits the TNUA Graduate Institute of Museum Studies directly in the realms of exhibit design / presentation and art education methodology. TNUA’s nationally recognized leadership in the research of topics in art administration and cultural heritage studies and the experience and results accrued from such are today the solid foundation supporting the further growth and development of museum studies in these areas. Similarly, this foundation further enriches and nourishes TNUA’s culture & arts administration curricula with the accumulated experience and expertise of the Graduate Institute of Museum Studies and technology museums. Research in the realms of museum conceptualization, policy, planning & design, administration & management, visitor / audience assessment, exhibition criticism, museum evaluations, and the relationship between museums and their social context both helps give current relevance and purpose to cultural research institutes and supply the innovation necessary to expand the breadth and depth of ongoing education and research work.
B. Challenging Boundaries as a Path to Innovation 
Terry Eagleton wrote in his book After Theory (2003) that, “To be inside and outside a position at the same time – to occupy a territory while loitering skeptically on the boundary – is often where the most intensely creative ideas stem from. It is a resourceful place to be, if not always a painless one.” (p 50) TNUA’s Graduate Institute of Museum Studies thus leverages its numerous cooperative relationships with museums and academic departments both at home and abroad to challenge boundaries in search of innovation in order to place our faculty, students, institute, education and research collectively into a position aptly described by Victor Turner as, “between and betwixt.” Organizations with active cooperative relationships with the TNUA Graduate Institute of Museum Studies include Japan’s National Museum of Ethnology; France’s Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle; the UK’s Tate Modern; and Taiwan’s National Museum of Natural Science, National Taiwan Museum, National Taiwan Science Education Center, NTU Museum of Medicine & Humanities, National Museum of Prehistory, Taiwan Indigenous Culture Park, the NTU Department of Anthropology, and the NCCU Department of Ethnology.  
Our cooperative relationships with these organizations focus on the innovative and research facets of planning and design. Researchers and educators on both sides of the partnership cooperate as an academic and pragmatic team, fostering core expertise in museum, art and science interpretation and communication research / implementation so desperately needed in Taiwan. These teams also further pursue topics in sociocultural development via new museum installations and ongoing research efforts. We train pioneering museology researchers through a comprehensive education and research program covering the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences as well as museum planning, design, exhibit design and exhibition criticism. Such is necessary to clarify the social and scientific natures of object (individual items as well as the “museum” entity) information and aesthetics, explore how to further cultivate general public appreciation / understanding, and address issues of current importance to the development of Taiwan’s museums, arts, sciences and sociocultural landscape. The learning and advancement of effective museum interpretation and communication techniques (planning, design, execution) is important not only to raising the efficacy of museum work, but also to improving the protection and conservation of threatened cultural and natural resources and monitoring government policies (related to museum organizational structures, community development programs, the cultural-creative sector, etc.).

Core Development Goals and Directions: Museology as a Field of Knowledge
Awareness of the importance of cultural construction had its beginnings in the 1980s. This decade saw the opening of the preparation office for the National Taiwan Science Education Center (NTSEC, Taiwan’s pioneer contemporary museum); the creation of county / city-level cultural centers and their preliminary search for direction, purpose and distinction; and the start of domestic discussion and debate on museology. Related journals launched during the decade included NTSEC’s Taiwan Museum Studies Quarterly (still publishing, with 19 volumes to date), the National Taiwan Museum’s Taiwan Natural Science, the National Museum of History’s Bulletin of the National Museum of History, the National Palace Museum’s National Palace Museum Bulletin, the Taipei Fine Art Museum’s Modern Art, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts’ Journal of the NTMFA, the National Taiwan Arts Education Center’s Journal of Aesthetic Education, and the National Science and Technology Museum’s Technology Museum Review. These journals were critical in introducing ideas and academic discourse from abroad.     
This discourse on museology exhibited several characteristics. First and foremost, the process of Taiwan museology cognition shifted gradually from descriptions of historic events and timelines to their interpretation, synchronic understanding, and theoretical / dialectical consideration. This process also underscored the significant progress made in domestic museology, increased the relative number of empirical studies being done, and added to cumulative knowledge on certain issues. It also gave domestic museum studies hallmark examples of various types of museums in various sociocultural settings as well as the means to reflect upon inherent museum functionalities, the influence of social culture and sociocultural change, and the distinctive nature and qualities of various types of museums. Multidisciplinary contributions by experts in fields such as anthropology, architecture, history, biology, administration & management and education give Taiwan museology a solid basis for productive, substantive growth. The great strides being made in museology require that exhibit curators at Taiwan museums have not just practical skills and knowledge, but also the passion to weave together compelling narratives that relate exhibit information to the life and experiences of the visiting public. Taiwan’s dynamic museum movement, however, is currently overwhelming the few domestic curators with such qualifications and thus severely limiting the potential for the meaningful and systematic accumulation of relevant skills, experience or insight. Inadequate academic research and the limited opportunities available to share / disseminate research results represent significant limitations on domestic museum theory development and professional training. Growing awareness of the importance of making our museums and their exhibits accessible, experiential and future-directed makes it all the more important that we infuse effective new ideas and perspectives into both museology and related social and cultural endeavors. Training and basic research related to museum competence thus deserve significantly more of our attention and focus. 
To achieve this, museum studies must explore the core concerns of the museum as well as develop / extend methodologies and theory in order to further expand and enrich the aggregate body of museum knowledge. In practice, we must develop a practical framework to teach and research museum techniques as well as judiciously handle issues related to administration & management, collection handling & conservation, museum planning & design, exhibit & education planning, media development & utilization, and exhibition criticism. It is important that we explore the full body of knowledge and methodologies related to museums’ philosophical and practical underpinnings while apprehending the social context and addressing sociocultural needs. Thus, while conducting research designed to enhance museum literacy among the general public, we must also extend museum literacy and competency within the professional museum community.
Based on the above, what can we say about the characteristics and nature of museology as a distinct field of knowledge? The four primary areas of current museum research focus, respectively, on: 1) museum collections; 2) the philosophical meaning, goals and functions of museums; 3) the museum (collections, exhibitions, education, research, social outreach, etc.) and its operations; and 4) the relationships between the museum researcher and his / her environment (e.g., natural, sociocultural). Although making significant strides over the past three decades toward establishing itself as a distinct field of study, museology must still better rationalize its sub-branch organization, define / clarify its methodologies, and formalize fundamental relationships with its local context. Thus, apart from researching museum collections and relationships between museums and the general public and sociocultural milieu, museology has in recent years increasingly focused its research and education efforts on museum exhibit / education interpretation and communication. Responding to the rapid growth of Taiwan’s museum sector, TNUA’s Graduate Institute of Museum Studies developed an integrative curriculum that bridges the liberal arts and sciences and encourages active dialogue between theory and practice. Our goal has always been to give students the planning, design and implementation skills and vision they need to excel as professional museum curators and educators in order to raise the level of professionalism at domestic museums and further advance domestic museology.
The Basic Literacy and Core Competencies of The Graduate Institute of Museum Studies
Approbated by the first Curriculum Committee meeting of the 2nd semester of year 2013
  Basic Literacy     Core Competencies
Learning and comprehension of knowledge    1.
Understanding and reflection on the development of museum and theory
Interdisciplinary integration and innovation   2.
Planning and assessment of museum exhibitions
Planning of educational programs and visitor studies
3. Social caring and connection   4. Museum collection research and practices
4. Critical and independent thinking   5. Strategic planning and implementation of museum policies
5. Interpretation and communication   6. Understanding and practice of museum ethics

Curriculum, Teaching Methods and Program Goals
The TNUA Graduate Institute of Museum Studies’ academic curriculum centers on the liberal arts and social sciences with support from the natural sciences. Our three academic concentrations in Comparative Museum Research, Research on Museum Interpretation and Communications, and Applied Museology each include required, elective and Masters’ thesis courses. Apart from regular coursework, students participate in internship programs that provide practical experience in the realms of independent research and museum propagation.
Museum research - the study of the plurality of museum entities - may be further subdivided into museology, which adopts theoretical / epistemological approaches, and museography, which records and narrates the professional growth and development of museum work. The objective of museology is to interpret the museum as a sociocultural construct and mechanism for transmitting knowledge value. Its focus is on the “museum” entity and its associated ideas, thought patterns, value systems and organization. Museography, on the other hand, focuses on museum operations to elicit knowledge and techniques critical to enhancing operational efficiencies and effectiveness. Theoretical research on museums and the study of museum operations, while related, are distinct. Both deserve to develop independently and to bolster education, research and action systems in order to organize networks of practice and communities of practice.

Education, research and activities under the TNUA Graduate Institute of Museum Studies leverage the nature and character of museology’s theoretical and practical aspects. The former makes direct use of science-based knowledge structure and research methodology, while the latter works to inspire and nurture professionals working in the museum sector. Our education objective is not simply to train professional museum staff, but to educate museology researchers and researchers knowledgeable and conversant in the liberal arts and social and natural sciences. Our academic and research content thus embraces multiple disciplines and addresses the social and existential nature of different types of museums (including art museums). It is our sincere desire to see our educators and students make the most of museum exhibitions and / or museum education to challenging boundaries and nourish innovation by using basic science methodology, creating a local / area-based category, and focusing on one type of museum.
In sum, the TNUA Graduate Institute of Museum Studies integrates multiple specialties to foster interdisciplinary research in the art, science and sociocultural realms based on a foundation that bridges the museum and the university. We embrace the best of western academic achievements while promoting nativist theoretical and pragmatic approaches as a way to leverage research, education and application to create a museology that is distinctively Taiwanese. We further look to the traditional arts and design aesthetics as catalysts for our active participation in Taiwan’s “New Museum Movement”.