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History of Museums and Collecting

Cultural Studies


GENG-7821.6 Topics in Visual Cultures, offered simultaneously with
GHIST-7830.6 History of Museums and Collecting
Fall/Winter 2015-16
Thursday 2:30- 5:15 p.m.
Professor S. Borys

Museums and galleries do more than collect, document, and exhibit objects; they display and produce culture and history, and engage with a diverse public and community of stakeholders. This course examines the collecting and exhibiting practices of European and North American museums and galleries over the last three centuries with the goal of understanding their evolving role and mission in society. We explore how museums developed in part with and response to the ideas of collecting and connoisseurship, and the disciplines of art history and museology, and how these institutions reflect or relate to different ideologies, such as nationalism and colonialism, and other historical and social precedents. Students will study and discuss how artworks, artifacts and collections as a whole function in the construction of cultural, community and national identities and agendas. Public and private institutions from the 18th century to the present day will be considered, with particular focus on a select group of European and North American museums, including the Winnipeg Art Gallery.