History and Theory of Curating - HA826

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 30 (15) DR B Thomas




This module is available as a wild module



This module will introduce students to the history and theory of curating through a series of detailed case studies from the early modern period to the present day. These will focus on how collections have been formed and maintained, the nature of key institutions in the art world like museums and galleries, and in particular it will examine the phenomenon of the exhibition. Different approaches to curating exhibitions will be examined, and the responsibilities of the curator towards artists, collections, and towards the public will be analysed. Broad themes in the theory of curating and museology will be examined. Wherever possible the case studies chosen will draw on the resources and expertise of partner organisations, such as Canterbury Museums and the Institute for Contemporary Art.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay (5,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Baker, M. and Brenda Richardson (eds), (1997). A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications
Barker, E. (1999). Contemporary Cultures of Display, New Haven and London: Yale University Press
Guilbaut, S. (1983). How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press
Harrison, C. (2011). Looking Back, London: Ridinghouse
Haskell, F. (2000). The Ephemeral Museum, New Haven and London: Yale University Press
O'Doherty, B. (2000). Inside the White Cube, University of California Press
Vergo, P. (ed), (1989). The New Museology, London: Reaktion Books

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

- Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of aspects of the history of collecting, including both private collections and public institutions, through relevant case studies;
- Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of aspects of the history of exhibitions and a sense of their wider cultural impact through relevant case studies;
- Demonstrate full knowledge and understanding of the institutions of the museum and of the gallery in their wider historical context through relevant case studies;
- Demonstrate understanding of aspects of museology, the study of various approaches to the display of collections and how such displays address their audiences, through relevant case studies;
- Debate about the cultural role of museums, galleries and exhibitions in relation to wider society, and their educational, recreational and other roles;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the curator in relation to collections management and exhibition design and development.

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