Term: Fall, Spring
This course focuses on the theories, philosophies, and aims that underpin modern and contemporary art museum exhibitions. Students explore in depth the rise, during the nineteenth century, of the first public museums and the history of collectors and collections. Through visits to Florence’s main art museums, students learn how the private Medici collections became the cornerstones of several great public museums and how museum displays may be rethought so that different perceptions of key aspects of art history can be stressed and communicated. The on-site visits enable students to gain direct knowledge of how contemporary museums work; students learn about the ideological orientations, financial structures, approaches to cultural events programming, departments of education, and press offices of public foundations and institutions in Florence. In the first part of the course, students examine the role of the collector, who in possessing and displaying objects prefigures the role played by the public museum curator. In the second part of the course, emphasis is placed on problems of contemporary art museums and the relationships of these institutions with artists, philosophers, critics, art historians, and the “everyday” public. The course concludes with visits to contemporary museums near Florence, such as the Pecci Foundation of Contemporary Art in Prato, where curators and educators discuss the ways they work with artists; organize, hang, and install exhibitions; conserve, insure, store, and pack artworks; and provide an array of educational services to the public. Students are required to work on a group project relating to an Italian museum and to write an original research paper.
(See syllabus below. An updated syllabus will be posted at the beginning of each term.)
Syllabus & Faculty