By Melissa Mertsis and Jordan Vetter

Hi everyone, welcome back to Living the iLife! Writing to you today you have Melissa, the President, and Jordan, the Vice President, of your Master of Museum Studies Student Association (MUSSA) – we are so excited to e-meet you!

MUSSA is the student government for Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) and Combined Degree Program (CDP) students in the iSchool. Made up of about 18 members, MUSSA is always for the students – we are responsible for fun social events, professional development activities, museum studies merch, and also keeping you in the loop on the latest initiatives and updates!

Over the last year, we’ve been keeping pretty busy with exciting events and opportunities for our Museum Studies cohort. In the Fall of 2019, we embarked on a professional development trip to Ottawa, where we met active museum professionals, got behind-the-scenes tours, and explored impressive institutions! A personal favourite of ours was the discussion led by Jaime Morse, the Educator of Indigenous Programs and Outreach at the National Gallery of Canada. Jaime led us through an intimate, challenging, and meaningful tour of the Canadian and Indigenous Art Gallery and it was an incredible learning experience.

Museum Studies students engage in a conversation with Jaime about the artwork behind her, Luke Parnell’s “A Brief History of Northwest Coast Design” (2007), at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

MUSSA has also hosted a number of smaller, local events to give students a chance to relax, hang out, and get to know each other (and the faculty!). Pizza with Profs is a well-loved event where we order pizza and get to spend some time socializing with our profs in a more informal setting. We have also hosted board game nights, pub nights, trivia nights, and end-of-semester parties! We hosted our Winter party at Duke of York Pub, where we had food, drinks, and a great time. We also had a raffle sponsored by the Tech Fund, and students won portable chargers, memory banks, and more!

Museum Studies students hold up the raffle prizes they won at the Winter end-of-semester party.

The Museum Studies program also celebrated its 50th birthday last year, and the faculty organized an “Unconference” event with the theme of risk-taking. Alumni, current museum professionals, and students all attended to participate in round-table discussions centered around risk-taking, what that means for museums. For many of us, this was our first taste of professional networking and conferences, and it was very exciting (also a great excuse to break out the dress clothes that have been hiding in the back of our closets since undergrad).

Museum Studies participating in the MMSt 50 “Unconference.”

Although the end of this last year has been a little more virtual than we’re used to, we’ve still been hosting online events to keep everyone involved and socializing. We have been hosting virtual movie nights over the summer (where we watched movies like Woman in Gold and 13th), and we hope to continue this tradition into the fall – keep an eye on your inboxes as we often ask for student input on movie choices! MUSSA has recently started an online book club, with a different book choice every few months and facilitated discussions. We hope to continue regular virtual get-togethers into the school year to make sure there is always time to check in with our friends in the program, take a break from school work, and work on our personal development. MUSSA is also very receptive to feedback – if you have an idea for an event you and your peers would love to see, don’t hesitate to let us know! As mentioned before, we’re here for the students, and we’d love to know what you all want and need.

While we know starting a new program, and potentially even at a new school, is challenging in the best of times, we can guarantee that the Museum Studies program is a friendly and collaborative place to be, and we want you to feel a part of our community regardless of where we all are. Whether you join us on council (there are positions on MUSSA specifically for first years!), participate in events, or write for our student blog Musings, MUSSA and the entire cohort of second years are looking forward to meeting you!

Have any questions? Want to get involved? We’d love to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram (@mussauoft), or reach out via email ( A council member will gladly be in touch!

Photos provided by MUSSA.

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