Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Cultures of Collecting
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 6 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 4 x 1 1/2 hours 1/2 hour for each student for essay/project feedback tutorial
Workload Breakdown Contact hours (above) 20 Seminar Preparation 40 General Reading 30 Independent museum/gallery visits 30 Project Research and Preparation 40 Essay Research and Preparation 40


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Museum/Gallery/Exhibition/Collection Project (1,500 words)  The Project is designed for students to be able to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards the display of art in different contexts and environments.  50%
Semester Assessment Essay (2,500 words+bibliography and annotated illustrations)  The Essay provides the opportunity to articulate ideas concerning the presentation of art and craft in public spaces within an historical framework and against a contemporary context.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Project- as above  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay- as above  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Discuss the presentation and display of 'fine art' in the museum context
Present museums as a manifestation of social, political and cultural determinants
Describe how museum displays have influenced art historiographical frameworks

Explain how the presentation of art and craft to the public is used to communicate ideas
Examine the nature of collecting and collections by comparing the collecting activities of collectors and institutions

Discuss the idea that collecting activities are in some respects gender determined

Consider how methods of display and interpretation can be improved upon to engage a wider audience
Analyse the contribution of private collectors to the formation of public museums


  • Develop museum practice and the study of material culture within the study of art history at the School of Art
  • Utilise further the School's collections of fine and decorative art

Brief description

The module provides an historical and theoretical introduction to museums and collecting from the Merchant-Princes of the Early Modern Period to the Museum in the Modern World. It examines the rationales that underpin collecting as a private or public activity, considering the way that museums and collections have been formed through the activities of the State, Royalty, the Church, artists, art historians, and patrons. It presents an introduction to museums in western Europe, from the Renaissance to the present, to examine and challenge the ways in which visual culture has been displayed to reflect art historical canons and the ways in which it has itself formed and influenced those canons. Both traditional and new approaches to museum displays are explored from a historical, theoretical, practical, formal and sociological standpoint. Case studies will be used to examine how specific institutions operate in relation to their audience and formulate policy to meet increasing demands for improved interpretation and access to the collections, and education provision, without sacrificing standards of collection management and care.


  1. Ways of Looking at Museums and Collections: Some Definitions (seminar)
  2. The Urge to Collect (seminar)
  3. Shaping the World: From Archaic to Early Modern Collecting
  4. Princes as Patrons: Patrongage at Court in Renaissance Italy
  5. From Classic to Contemporary Collecting
  6. 18th Century British and European Collectors and Collections
  7. 19th Century Collectors and Collecting
  8. Early 20th Century Collectors: Collecting Impressionism (seminar)
  9. Collecting Cultures and the Gender of Collecting (seminar)
  10. The Contemporary Setting: current art curatorial and museum practice, challenges for the future

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication * Seminar Discussions and Presentation * Academic Writing
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent study through assignment seminar and assignment preparation as well as independent museum/gallery visits.
Information Technology Information retrieval
Personal Development and Career planning The module is specifically for students considering a career in museums, art gallery administration, public art organsiations, freelance curators and exhibition organisers, and in private galleries.
Problem solving * Museum or Gallery Evaluation * Essay * Seminar Preparation * Collections Analysis
Research skills * Seminar Preparation * Course Work
Subject Specific Skills The project is designed for students to be able to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards the display of art in different contexts and environments. The essay and examination give the opportunity to articulate their ideas of issues concerning the presentation of art and craft in public spaces within an historical framework and against the contemporary context.
Team work Group projects with seminars


This module is at CQFW Level 4