Cooperstown Graduate Program Celebrates 50 Years

Cooperstown Graduate Program Celebrates 50 Years
In 1963, the Cooperstown Graduate Program sent out an advertisement announcing the first graduate degrees ever to be offered in museum studies. The brainchild of Louis C. Jones, director of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA), the new program offered master’s degrees through the State University of New York system.

Its goal? To provide professional training for people who wanted to work in history museums. It had never been done before. It was located in a small town in upstate New York that was difficult to get to. The winters are notoriously horrendous.

And yet, the fledgling program welcomed its first class of 28 students in 1964. Not only is CGP still going strong 50 years later, it remains on the cutting edge of new developments in the museum field.

The Program, as it is referred to by students, alumni, and faculty, recently opened a brand new building. It is the only facility in the country, perhaps in the world, that was specifically designed for a museum studies curriculum.

A climate-controlled classroom boasts an oversized table that was expressly made for examining large quilts or coverlets laid flat. A state-of-the-art computer lab with individual workstations allows students to learn about graphic design and other new technologies with ease. Modern equipment, including a large format printer and a fully functioning wood shop, provide students with the tools they need to build first-class exhibitions.

When entering the new building, visitors immediately encounter a large gallery space used by students to create an exhibition that is traditionally unveiled for Interview Weekend in March. An applicant’s first impression of the Program will now match the rigorous standards and academic excellence that have always been a hallmark of the Cooperstown experience.

The Program is also a leader in a brand new field, rolling out a new a certificate program in Science Museum Studies. A faculty position for science was recently created to answer a new demand within the museum field.

More than 250 alumni recently returned to Cooperstown for a weekend of workshops, tours, and celebration. As CGP celebrates its heritage, it continues to look toward the future. What began as an unlikely dream in the wilderness of upstate New York has truly become “A Bold Vision Realized.”

The author is a member of the Class of 1999 at the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

You Should Also Read:
Finding Your First Museum Job
Is a Museum Career Right for You?
Master's Degree in Museum Studies

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