ARTH 076. Colloquium: The History of Collecting and Museums (ca. 1476-2016)

This course examines the history of museums, from their origins in the private art collections and cabinets of curiosities amassed in early modern Europe to the globally conscious institutions of the early twenty first century. We will study the museum as a cultural monument that reflects the ideological concerns of the society in which it was created, and explore how the museum has adapted (or attempted to adapt) over time to meet the changing needs of its audience. Museums played a critical role in the construction of identity (local, regional, and national); they also helped shape western understandings of culture, society, power, and difference. We will analyze a variety of case studies to address such concepts and related issues, and trace the evolving objectives of museum theory and practices. An important focus of this course will be on the particular impact of art museums on the study, consumption, and production of art, such as the interpretive effects of organization and display.
Catalog chapter: Art and Art History  
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