Adjunct Professor Marjorie Schwarzer

Marjorie Schwarzer

Adjunct Professor


An award-winning writer, critic, and educator, Marjorie Schwarzer joined the faculty at University of San Francisco in 2012, after serving as professor and chair of the Department of Museum Studies at John F. Kennedy University for over 15 years. She has held leadership positions in museums — including the Boston Children's Museum, Chicago Children's Museum and Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry — since completing her MBA in nonprofit finance and marketing from UC, Berkeley (1983). Schwarzer is author of the highly-acclaimed Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America, which was adapted for an award-winning public television episode; excerpts have been published in Museum News, ASTC Dimensions and WestMuse. She has published over 50 in-depth articles and reviews about trends in museum leadership, technology, education, exhibitions, and history, and keynoted museum conferences around the nation and in Japan, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates. Schwarzer has served on the boards of the Western Museums Association and AAM's Committee on Museum Professional Training, and has taught museum studies in the United Arab Emirates in addition to Bank Street College in New York City and University of Victoria (Canada). Recent publications include "Rules of the Game," a conversation about curatorial ethics in the United Arab Emirates co-written with Leigh Markopoulos and Aisha Deemas (Reimagining Museums: practice in the Arabian Peninsula, ed. Pamela Erskine-Loftus) and "No Heroes: Re-visiting the Museum Leadership Crisis," (Museums and the Paradox of Change, 3rd edition, ed. Robert Janes). In 2015, she was invited to present her research at Yale University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. She is currently an advisor to the Foster Youth Museum. Her forthcoming publications include "Museum Studies in the United States: A Pragmatic Approach to Excellence," in The Theory of Museology: Main Schools of Thought 1960-2000,” eds Delia Tzortzaki and Stefanos Keramidas. Papers and Monographs from the Norwegian Institute at Athens/UNESCO publication series.


  • Administrative Director, MA in Museum Studies


  • MBA, University of California, Berkeley
  • BA, Washington University, St. Louis

Awards & Distinctions

  • Harry Morrison Award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year, 2003, John F. Kennedy University

  • Excel National Award for Outstanding Professional Book of the Year, 2006.

  • Platinum Aurora Award (with Great Museums) for Best Educational Television Documentary of the Year, 2007.

  • CAMMY Award for Outstanding Museum Leadership (with John F. Kennedy University), 2008.

Selected Publications

  • Schwarzer, M. (2015). "Muscle Men in the Museum: Neil Harris's Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience." Reviews in American History, 43(2).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2014). "Tap into your Passions." In Teaching the Museum: Careers in Museum Education, ed. Leah Melber. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2014). "A Reply to Peter Singer's Thought Experiment on Art Museums and Effective Altruism." Museums and Social Issues, 9(1).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2013). “No Heroes: Revisiting the Museum Leadership Crisis.” In Museums and the Paradox of Change, ed. Robert Janes. London: Routledge.

  • Schwarzer, M., Markopoulos, L. and Deemas, A. (2013). “Social Change and the Rules of the Game: A Conversation about Museum Values in the United Arab Emirates.” In Reimaging Museums: Practice in the Arabian Peninsula, ed. Pamela Erskine-Loftus. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MuseumsETC.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2012). “Museum Studies at a Crossroads.” Museum, January-February.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2006; second edition 2012). Riches, Rivals and Radicals:100 Years of Museums in America. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2011). “The Culture of Incarceration.” Museums and Social Issues, 6(1).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2011). “From Berkeley to Dubai: Museum Studies as Soft Power.” Museum, July-August.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2011). “How Do Museum Studies programs address the Nature of Museums today?” Exhibitionist, Spring, 82-86.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2011). “Mining the Museum revisited: A Conversation with Fred Wilson and Paula Marincola." In Letting Go: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, eds. Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene and Laura Koloski. Philadelphia: The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, 230-241.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2010). “Butterflies in the Basement: Requiem for the Snow Museum of Natural History.” In The Marvelous Museum, ed. Andrew Leland. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2009). “Museum Studies." In Encyclopedia of Library Information Sciences. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis Group.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2009). "Careers and Education in Museum Work.” In Encyclopedia of Library Information Sciences. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis Group.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2009). “Lessons from the Great Depression.” Museum, May-June.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2009). “Shotgun Wedding: The new California Academy of Sciences African Hall.” Exhibitionist, 28(1), 355-360.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2008). “Literary Devices: Period Rooms as Fantasy and Archetype.” Curator, October.

  • Schwarzer, M., Koke, J. and Morrissey, K. (2007). “Civic Discourse: Can We Really Talk?” Museums and Social Issues, 2(2).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2007). “Broadcasting Dialogue: Citizen Journalism, Public Radio and Museums.” Museums and Social Issues, 2(2).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2007). “Gender in the Temple: Women and Leadership in Museums.” Museum News 85(3). Revised and reprinted in Gender, Sexuality and Museums (2010), ed. Amy Levin. London: Routledge.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2006). “Looking Back: 11 Touchpoint Exhibitions of the 20th Century.” Exhibitionist, April.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2005). “Revisiting Leadership.” WestMuse, Winter.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2003). “The “L” Word (Leadership)." Hand to Hand, Winter.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2002). “Turnover at the Top: Are Directors Burning Out?” Museum News, 81(3).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2001). What Students Need to Know: Graduate Training in Museum Studies. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2001). “Now Boarding: Airport Museums and the Global Audience." Museum News, 80(3).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2001). “Art and Gadgetry: The Future of the Museum Visit.” Museum News, 80(4).

  • Schwarzer, M. (2000). “Visions for the 21st Century Museum.” Tapestry, Journal of Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, Spring.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2000). “Contesting Popularity.” WestMuse, Fall, 7-9.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2000). “Decoding the Tech Museum of Innovation.” Exhibitionist, Journal of National Association of Museum Exhibitors, Spring.

  • Schwarzer, M. (1999). “The Mouse in the Museum: Technology Training and Museum Studies Programs,” Spectra, Journal of Museum Computer Network, 26, 18-19.

  • Schwarzer, M. (1999). “Guts and Glory: Designing San Francisco’s New Museums.” San Francisco Design Review, Summer.

  • Schwarzer, M. (1999). “Schizophrenic Agora: Mission, Market and the Multi-tasking Museum.” Museum News, 78, 40-47.

  • Schwarzer, M. (1995). "Challenges and Opportunities in Community Collaboration and Audience Development." Midwest Museums Annual Review, Spring. Reprinted in U.S. Army Museum Memo (1995) and in the user's guide to the Science Museum of Minnesota's video Journey: Museums and Community Collaboration (1997).

  • Schwarzer, M. (1994). "The New Atlantic Alliance: Children's Museums in Europe." Hand-to-Hand, 8(2).

  • Schwarzer, M. (1994). "Helping Visitors in Potent Exhibits." Hand-to-Hand, 8(1).

  • Schwarzer, M. (1980). "Collective Management in the Arts," Communities Magazine, 45.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2011). "Book Review: Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics." International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 26(3), 307-309.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2009). "Book Review: Museums in a Troubled World: Renewal, Irrelevance or Collapse?" International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 24(4), 389-392.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2009). "Book Review: A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World." Museum, July-August.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2007). "Book Review: Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Museum News, November/December.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2006). "Book Review: Civilizing the Museum, The Collected Writings of Elaine Heumann Gurian." Museum News, September/October.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2003). "Book Review: How to Become an Art Curator." Museum News, July/August.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2002). "Book Review: The Millennial Museum." Curator, August.

  • Schwarzer, M. (2000). "Victoria Newhouse's Towards a New Museum and Gerhard Mack's The Twenty-first Century Art Museum." Design Book Review, 44.

  • Schwarzer, M. (1998). "Book Review: Collective Vision: Starting and Sustaining a Children’s Museum." Curator, April.

  • Schwarzer, M. (1997). "Book Review: Museums A Place to Work: Planning Museum Careers." Curator, September.