Class Highlight - Federal Laws and Museums


Class Highlight - Federal Laws and Museums

What class?

LSMS 5700 – Federal Laws and Museums

Why is it cool?

Museums are repositories for art and artifacts that have both monetary and cultural value. Not only are they charged with protecting these collections materially, but they also must protect them legally.

Laws like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) dictate how and when museums can obtain and keep certain objects of significance. NAGPRA, for example, requires museums to keep inventories of Native American artifacts and work with tribes to return artifacts that are associated with specific tribes, including unidentifiable remains.

“Situations often arise that do not require a lawyer’s knowledge of the laws, but it’s important for today’s museum professional to have a working knowledge of the federal laws that could impact the museum and its policies,” said course instructor Barbara Bilek.

Federal Laws and Museums is cool because students will learn all the information museum professionals need to stay in compliance with federal law. Specifically, students will learn about laws governing Native American materials, culture and artifacts––a unique skill set that makes students more marketable and employable.

“It’s not just about laws governing museum collections in general, but also those governing management and ownership of Native American items,” Bilek said. “This is pertinent to those students who wish to work in tribal museums or cultural centers, or in collaboration with tribal museums and cultural centers.”

After completing the course, students will have a clear understanding of how and when to apply federal regulations to a museum’s collection policy. They’ll be able to identify situations that require legal knowledge to protect collections, as well as advise a museum in developing policies that adhere to regulations required by law.

Talk to your advisor to see if this class might be right for you, or see what else is offered by the College of Professional and Continuing Studies.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.