Museums, Collections, Exhibitions: An Introduction to Museology

Academic Year: 
Course Code: 
CHSP 5034
Course Description: 

This course provides an overview of museum operation visible to and hidden from the public, revealing how museums fulfill their key roles in collecting, preserving and displaying the cultural heritage assets in their custody.  The first part of the course offers first-hand information on the processes behind the scenes through visits to collection depos and conservation studios led by museum professionals and presentations by curators and other experts. In the second part of the course we’ll focus on the activities of museums directed towards the public: exhibitions, museum education, visitors' programs, etc. By analyzing the textual and visual aspects of selected exhibitions, we’ll decipher the messages they convey to the public. We’ll also be interested whether the various museum functions and communication tools work together in transmitting well-formulated and coherent narratives. We’ll devote about two-thirds of the classes to museum visits and the rest to in-class discussions.

Learning Outcomes: 

Familiarity with various types of museums, collections and operation models. Awareness of the ways museums fulfill their role in preserving, interpreting and communicating cultural heritage. On-the-spot observation of museum work behind the scenes and open to the public. Ability to contextualise and describe selected aspects of museum operation.


Regular class attendance is mandatory which in this case will involve visits to museums where students are required to arrive on time and respect security and other regulations. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions, reflecting on the presentations, asking questions and formulating their views. They will be expected to make some museum visits outside of classes too (40%).

Students will have to prepare minor group assignments on selected topics (to be specified in Week 1). This will be due at mid-term and will include joint presentations by the groups (power point, 20 minutes long) (25%).

Each student will be required to prepare a final paper (5-6 pages, Week 12) which should be a critical assessment of a selected topic (to be specified in Week 1) (35%).