Topic outline

  • Course Description

    The museum seems to be a uniquely modern institution. A place where works of art, identified as such by trained experts, are displayed for the most part outside of the original context of their making and use. Through this process these same works gain new meaning and new identities. They become representative of cultures and peoples of the past, a past that is processed, defined and sometimes created by the display itself. This class takes a critical approach to museum exhibits, to collecting and to the classification of cultures and art that goes on in curatorial studies today. Our approach will look across cultures to understand not just how display creates meaning and provides a framework for interpretation of works of art, but for the cultures that those works come to represent. This class is designed to develop the following key skills: collaboration, global competence, creativity in expression and problem solving and network and information literacy. In addition, of course, you will learn something of the history of museum display, art historical methods and practices, and issues of design and viewing that are key to the museum experience.  

    • Expectations and Competencies

      It is expected that we will:

      • not miss class unless ill.
      • have completed assigned readings before the class period in which they will be discussed and complete all written assignments by the due date.
      • work diligently to get work done and help our classmates to do the same.
      • be respectful, courteous and kind to ourselves and our classmates.
      • click on all the links offered on this website and suggest others to be added if we come across them.
      • ask questions regularly.

    • Assignments

      Please note no late papers will be accepted. There are no exceptions to this. Every assignment that is not turned in will constitute half a letter grade reduction in the final grade.

      Due Dates:

      September 20 - First Assignment

      October 4 - Second Assignment

      October 11 - Outline of Final Project

      October 25 - In-class preliminary presentation

      December 3, 6 or 10 - In-class presentations

      December 10 - Final Project

    • Readings and Topics

      Class Texts (available for purchase at the bookstore)

      Henning, Michelle. Museums, Media and Cultural Theory. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2006.

      Selected articles from: Carbonell, Bettina M. Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2nd ed, 2012.

      All additional articles available through links on the schedule of reading below.

    • Museums to Look at and Know about

      Below are links to websites for a number of museums that will act as the primary examples in our on-going conversations. Please send me suggestions for others to be added to this list.