History and Theory of Curating - HA826

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 30 (15) DR BDH Thomas
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 30 (15)




This module is available as a wild module



This module will introduce you 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

Weekly two-hour seminars

Method of assessment

100% Coursework: 5000 word essay

Preliminary reading

Malcolm Baker and Brenda Richardson (eds), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1997.
Emma Barker, Contemporary Cultures of Display, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999.
Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Charles Harrison, Looking Back, London: Ridinghouse, 2011.
Francis Haskell, The Ephemeral Museum, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000.
Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube, University of California Press, 2000.
Peter Vergo (ed), The New Museology, London: Reaktion Books, 1989.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the module History and Theory of Curating you will:
- have acquired a knowledge of aspects of the history of collecting, including both private collections and public institutions, through relevant case studies.
- have acquired a knowledge of aspects of the history of exhibitions and a sense of their wider cultural impact through relevant case studies.
- have developed a knowledge and understanding of the institutions of the museum and of the gallery in their wider historical context through relevant case studies.
- have been introduced to aspects of museology, the study of various approaches to the display of collections and how such displays address their audiences, through relevant case studies.
- Have encountered a series of debates about the cultural role of museums, galleries and exhibitions in relation to wider society, and their educational, recreational and other roles.
- Have developed an understanding of the role of the curator in relation to collections management and exhibition design and development.

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