The art museum in the United States is a unique social institution because
of its blend of public and private support and its intricate involvement
with artists, art historians, collectors, the art market, and the
government. This course will study the art museum’s history and status
in our society today. Special consideration will be given to financial,
legal and ethical issues that face art museums in our time. Short
papers, oral reports and visits with directors, curators and other
museum officials in nearby museums will be included along with a
detailed study of a topic of one’s choice "More than a physical place,
the museum represents certain sets of ideas and ideals of a specific
culture. This course provides a historical and theoretical overview of
museums and their exhibitions."
COURSE OUTCOMES: Students attain an understanding of the social
and historical development of the institution of the museum. Through
critical readings and writings, they are able to analyze the fundamental
assumptions of museums and exhibitions as a medium of and setting for a
specific ideology. Students gain in-depth knowledge through analysis of
specific case studies.
-I. Karp and S. D. Lavine, eds. Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and
Politics of Museum Display. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
-E. Alexander, Museums in Motion. Nashville: American Association
for State and Local History, 1990.
-S. Crane, Museums and Memory. Stanford: Stanford University
-G. Kavanagh, Making Histories in Museums London. Leichester
University Press, 1996.
-S. M. Pearce, Museums, Objects and Collections. Washington:
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
-D. Maleuvre, Museum and Memories. Stanford: Stanford University
-S. Lee, ed. On Understanding Art Museums. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Prentice Hall, Inc. 1995.
-B. Sylvan, A Short Guide to Writing About Art. New York:
Prentice Hall, 1992.
WEBSITES: See the Art History website "links" section for museums
throughout the world.
CLASS COMPORTMENT: Since this is a professional presentation at
the university level, students are not permitted to eat, drink and use
cellular phone during class lectures and discussion. Students are not
permitted to tape the lectures. Disable students must see me on the
first day of class to accommodate their individual needs.
EXAMINATION: There will be two take home examination, an oral
presentation and final paper based on your oral presentation. In
addition there will be four museum reports based on visiting and
studying those museum Examination misses without prior excuse from the
instructor or excuse for medical or other emergencies cannot be made up.
No voice mail, email or fax will be acceptable.
VISUAL AND WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: In order to familiarize yourself
with museums of different nature in your area, your Museum Report
Assignment will be as follows. You will visit 4 museums, including art,
science or technology, enhancing your cultural and aesthetic experience
as well. After careful study of the function and structure of the
museum, you will write a two-page commentary for each museum. See
The museum visit that you will attend or select may be from the
following categories. However, you may not choose more than two museums
from the same category. You need to produce an item of proof that you
participated in any of these events, for example, a photograph or
postcard of the object or museum visited, an entrance fee stub, purchase
ticket, or a pamphlet from the visited site. The categories are:
1. Visit a museum of science
2. Visit a museum of technology
3. Visit a museum of art
4. Visit a museum of textile
5. Visit a museum of furniture, cars, trains, etc
6. Visit a museum of numismatic
7. Visit a historic house
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: All paper assignments are due on May 9. All
late papers will be penalized or not accepted constituting course
failure. Each cultural event commentary should be approximately of two
pages long (200 to 250 words per page), double-spaced and typed with
copied illustrations or support information regarding your attendance to
the cultural event. The written assignment will be graded on form as
well as content so that spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax are
to be considered with some car. You are to consult with me before
participating in any of the cultural events. All work done outside of
class must be type written or computer printed, double- spaced. Make
sure that you keep a copy of your paper.
GUIDELINES FOR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: All written material presented
for evaluation should follow these guidelines.
CONTENT: You must have an introduction, stating the purpose of
your paper, a development explaining thesis of your project and a
conclusion, a summary of your findings. Always include information that
you have learned from the lectures or the assigned readings. If sources
are consulted (books and articles) make sure they date post 1975 with
the exception of encyclopedias. You must credit the sources you use in a
footnote or endnote. Although you may read survey texts, such as those
of Janson, Hartt, or Gardner; however, these do not count among the
acceptable sources for research for this art history course at the 300
level. You may consult The Encyclopedia of World Art and The Oxford
Companion to Art and other pertinent encyclopedia of science and
technology at the Reserve Section of the O'Leary Library/South Campus;
however; these do not count among the acceptable sources. The Art Index
(an annual index of periodical literature on art) is very helpful source
for books and articles in art history. In addition, you may be assisted
by internet and websites information; however, be aware of always
recording and listing the source of your citation with name of the
author, title of the article and date. Downloading information from the
internet without proper citation constitutes plagiarism Bibliographical
references must be included to demonstrate the sources you have
consulted. Illustrations should follow the bibliography. In your paper
define the limits of the topic you are considering, clarify the issues
surrounding the topic with respect to the relationship between art and
culture, comment on the scholarly problems involved, and offer some
original incite into the topic. Be sure to see and read critically. You
will find little agreement among various authors.
FORMAT: The computerized typing must be as follow: accepted fonts
Arial, New York, Geneva, Courier, Palatino and Bookman; only 12 points
in character. A computerized page contains approximately 200 to 250
words, less than this is not acceptable. Papers written in any other
format is not acceptable. All pages must be numbered.
NOTE ON PLAGIARISM: Be careful never to copy directly or directly
adapt from another author without crediting the source. General sources
must be listed in a bibliography; any indirect or direct quotation or
paraphrase must be footnoted. Any unacknowledged copying will receive an
F (failure) for the course. Student will be subject to academic
suspension from the university.
ORAL PRESENTATION: On May 1 notify me of your oral presentation
assignment topic. The presentations are scheduled for May 8, 11 and 15.
During the course further information and guidelines will be given
regarding the structure of the oral format. Honors students are
encouraged to participate in this learning activity. See Instruction
HANDOUTS: A series of mimeographed materials will be given out
throughout the course in order to help you with your reading
EVALUATIONS: The take home exam will count 40% of your final
semester grade. The museum paper and oral presentation will count 30% of
your final semester grade. And the museum reports will count 30% of your
final semester grade.
MUSEUM VISITS: Students are individually responsible for
visiting, in particular, the Fogg Art Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine
Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum, the Worcester Art Museum,
Museum of Science in Boston, The Harvard Museums of Science, and the
museums and historic houses in Lowell and surrounding area.
OPTIONAL MUSEUM VISITS: Probably during the semester the Art
History Club will sponsor some field trips to the Boston Museum. Also,
there will be scheduled one or two trips to New York City, Worcester,
Hartford, New Haven (CT) in order to visit some major exhibitions or
museums. You will not be penalized for not participating in these trips.
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday and Thursday between 5:00-7:00 P.M. Also,
other times by appointment. My office is in Coburn Hall, Room 201.
EMAIL FORMAT: When sending me an email, kindly use as subject the
A. SUBJECT: Museum Studies
B. GREETING: Start your message with Dear or Hello Dr. Cheney,…and then
write your message
C. SIGN OFF: with your name.
LECTURE, ASSIGNMENT AND EXAMINATION SCHEDULE:
(N.B. Syllabus information subject to change without prior notice)
Week 1 & 2: Jan. 30-Feb. 1 & Feb. 6-8: Introduction: The History of
Alexander, "What is a Museum," "The Art Museum," and "The History
Museum"; Crane, "Introduction" and "Thinking Through the Museum";
Henietta Lidichi, "The Poetics and Politics of Exhibiting
Other Cultures," [handout pp154-160].
Recommended: Pearce, "Museums: The Intellectual Rationale" and "Making
Week 3 & 4: February 13-15, February 20-22: Establishing Definitions,
Negotiating Meanings, Discerning Objects
Alexander, "The Natural History Museum," "Botanical Gardens and Zoos"
and "Museum of Science and Technology"; Henietta Lidichi, "The Poetics
and Politics of Exhibiting Other Cultures," [handout 184-194];
Recommended: Kanavagh, "Time Heals: Making History in Medical Museums";
Timothy Mitchell, "Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order" [handout];
Carol Duncan, "Art Museums and the Ritual of Citizenship "in Karp, pp.
88-103; Pearce, Chapter Two.
March 1: Take Home Exam I
Week 5 & 6: Feb. 27-March 1, March 6-8: Culture and Representation
Alexander, "The Museum as a Cultural Center and Social Instrument";
Crane, "Memories in the Museum"
Recommended: Kaavanagh, "Try to be an Honest Woman"; "Hard Men, Hard
Facts"; "Making Family Histories..Australia," "African
Americans…""Making Histories of African Caribbeans," "History of
Folklore" and "Making Cultural Diverse Histories"; Svetlana Alpers; "The
Museum as a way of Seeing" in Karp, pp. 25-32; Michael Baxandall,
"Exhibiting Intention" in Karp, pp. 33-41; Masao Yamaguchi, "The Poetics
of Exhibition in Japanese Culture" in Karp, pp. 57-67; B. N. Goswamy,
"Another Past, Another Context, " in Karp, pp. 68-77;
Maleuvre, "Museum Times"
Week 7 & 8: March 13-15, March 20-22 Semester Break
Week 9: March 27-29: Museums and Identity
Alexander, "Museum as Conservation," "Museum as Research," and "Museum
Recommended: Maleuvre," Bringing the Museum Home" and "Balzacana";
Kavanagh, "Making Histories from Archeology," Making Histories of
Sexuality," "Making Histories of Wars," "Making City Histories" and
"Making Histories of Children"
April 5: Take Home Exam II
Week 10 & 11: April 3-5, April 10-12: Museums Collecting
Alexander, "The Museum as Collection"; Crane, "Collectors and
Institutions"; Spenser Crew and James Sims, "Locating Authenticity;
Fragments of a Dialogue" in Karp, pp. 88-103; Susan Vogel, "Always True
to the Object, in Our Fashion" in Karp, pp. 191-204; Patrick Houlihan,
"The Poetic Image and Native American Art" in Karp, pp. 205-211.
Recommended: Jeanne Cannizzo, "Gathering Souls and Objects: Missionary
Collections" in Barringer, 153-166; Pearce, "Objects Insides and
Outsides Museums," "Museum, Objects and Collections," "Collecting: Body
and Soul," "Collecting: Shaping the World" and "Objects in Action."
Week 12 & 13: April 17-19, April 24-26: Museum Functions
Pearce, "Meaning as Function," "Meaning as Structure," and "Meaning in
Recommended: Kavanagh, "Making Histories, Making Memories" and "Why Not
Invent the Past…"; Lee, On Understand Art Museums.
Week 14: May 1-3: Museum Profession
Alexander, "The Museum Profession"
Recommended: Pearce, "Problems of Power," "Projects and Prospects" and
"Models for Object Study"; Kavanagh, "Making the History Curriculum"
Week 15: May 8-10: Oral Presentations
Week 16: May 15: Oral Presentations cont.