Date Awarded

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Danielle Moretti-Langholtz

Committee Member

Jennifer Kahn

Committee Member

Grey Gundaker


This thesis examines the role of university museums in the United States and their relationship to academic and local communities as well as their influence on a national and international level. The purpose of this study is to identify how changes in educational, social, and cultural issues have affected the role of university museums in the United States during their almost two hundred and fifty years of evolution. A second goal is to identify which audiences (academic or public) they chose to focus on. Taking a multifaceted approach, this thesis studies three museums from Ivy League institutions: The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, and The Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. Three major research questions are explored: (1) What function or role do university museums play? and how have these changed over time? (2) What were the reasons for the development and growth in university museums? (3) How and why do university museums include or exclude certain audiences? Ultimately, this study provides an in-depth examination of the role and function of university museums in the United States since the 18th century.



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