Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Gallery Evaluation fieldtrip - 1
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Coursework: 2500 word essay  30%
Semester Assessment Gallery evaluation  20%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Present museums as a manifestation of a complex interaction and evaluation of social, political and cultural determinants
2. Account for the current trends in musuem provision
3. Describe how displays have influenced art historiographical frameworks
4. Discuss the origins and development of fine art in the museum context and how it relates to the roles of the art historian and curator
5. Consider different approaches to writing about museums, collections, and exhibitions
6. Explain the issues surrounding the presentation of art and craft to the public and how it is used to communicate ideas

Relation to assessment:
Museum/Gallery/Exhibition Evaluation (1,2,3,5,6) Essay (1,3,4,6), Examination (1,3,4,5,6)

Brief description

A historical and theoretical introduction to museums and collecting from the Merchant-Princes of the Early Modern Period to the Museum in the Modern World. The course examines the rationales that underpin collecting as a private or public activity. It examines 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 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. to examine the nature of collecting and collections
2. to consider and discuss the presentation of `fine art? in the museum context
3. to consider the role of a National Museum with reference to the current debate concerning the National Museums and Gallery of Wales
4. to analyse the contributions private collectors have made to the formation of public museums by the study of historical and contemporary examples
5. to compare collecting activities of collectors and institutions
6. to discuss the idea that collecting activities are in certain respects gender determined
7. examine the effects of traditional methods of display and interpretation and consider how they can be improved upon to engage a wider audience


The module will cover:
  • The Urge to Collect
  • Ways of Looking at Museums and Collections
  • Shaping the World: from Archaic to Early Modern Collecting
  • From Classic to Contemporary Collecting
  • Princes as Patrons: Patronage at Court in Renaissance Italy
  • 18th Century British and European Collectors & Collections
  • The National Museum from the Nation State to Post-Colonialism
  • University Museums
  • 19th Century Collectors and Collecting
  • 20th Century Collectors and Collecting
  • The Impressionist Phenomenon: Burrell, Lane, Courtauld and the Davies Sisters
  • The Gender of Collecting: William Burrell and the Davies sisters (Impressionist paintings), Lady Charlotte Schreiber and Eric Milner White (Ceramics), Peggy Guggenheim and John Paul Getty (Contemporary Art)
  • The Contemporary Setting: current curatorial practice, challenges for the future
  • The Heritage Industry: the tourist and leisure provision
  • Collecting Culture, Collecting Cultures

Transferable skills

  • Independent project work
  • Museum or Gallery Evaluation
  • Essay
  • IT and information handling
  • Word Processing
  • Internet Searches and Information Retrieval
  • Writing in an academic context
  • Seminar Discussions and Presentation
  • The module is specifically for students considering a career in museums, art gallery administration, public art organisations, freelance curators and exhibition organisers, and in private galleries.
  • Seminar Preparation
  • Group activity
  • Group Projects within Seminars

Reading List

Annie Coombes (1994) Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture and Popular Imagination Yale University Press, Newhaven and London Primo search Carol Duncan (1995) Civilising Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums Routledge, London Primo search Daniel J Sherman & Irit Rogoff (eds.) (1994) Museum Culture, Histories, Discourses, Spectacles Routledge, London Primo search David Boswell & Jessica Evans (eds.) (1999) Representing the Nation: A Reader. Histories, Heritage and Museums Routledge & the Open University, London Primo search Eilean Hooper-Greenhill (1992) Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge Routledge, London Primo search Giles Waterford (ed.) (1992) Palaces of Art, Art Galleries in Britain 1790-1990 Lund Humphries & Dulwich Picture Gallery, London Primo search I Karp & S D Levine (1991) Exhibiting Cultures. The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display Routledge, London Primo search John Elsner & Roger Cardinal (eds.) (1994) The Cultures of Collecting Reaktion Books, London Primo search Louisa Buck & Philip Dodd (1991) Relative Values or What?s Art Worth? BBC Books, London Primo search Moira Donald and Linda Hurcombe (eds) (2000) Gender and Material Culture in Historical Perspective MacMillan, London Primo search Peter Vergo (ed.) (1989) The New Museology Reaktion Books, London Primo search R. Lumley (ed.) (1989) The Museum Time Machine Methuen/Routledge, London Primo search Ruth B Phillips and Christopher Steiner (1999) Unpacking Culture: Art and Commodity in Colonial and Post Colonial Worlds University of California Press,Berkley and London Primo search Susan M Pearce (1994) Interpreting Objects and Collections Routlesge, London Primo search Susan M Pearce (1992) Museums, Objects & Collections Leicester University Press, Leicester Primo search Susan M Pearce (ed.), (1989) Museum Studies in Material Culture Leicester University Press Primo search Susan Stewart (1993) On Longing, Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection Duke University Press, Durham & London Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4