The Museum





This course offers a survey of the history and typology of the museum from the Renaissance to the present. Emphasis is on establishing genealogies for the expanding varieties of museums today, from the museum of science to the virtual museum. The early part of the course examines the first public museums in Europe and their origins in cabinets of curiosities and princely collections. Students then look at the formation of major public museums in the 19th century, focusing on France, Britain, Germany, and the United States. Finally, the course examines the evolution of the museum in the 21st century into a repository of collective memory and nostalgia. Themes within that category include heritage sites and memorials. Also discussed are the increasingly reciprocal relations between national parks and amusement parks and museums of fine arts, decorative arts, or material culture, as museums become vital centers of education, experience, and social interaction. Course requirements include participation in class discussions; brief presentations on a specific museum and on the subject of a research paper; and the research paper itself, to be presented in the final session and handed in during exam week. 3 credits.