Topics in Museum Studies: Museums and the Law (MSMS-GA 3330-001) Hima Gleason. 4 points.
Legal issues pervade so many aspects of the world of museums. The law can both constrain and enable the behavior of museum staff, administration, and others who work with these cultural organizations. Therefore, it is difficult to work in, for and with museums without some training in or familiarity with the law. In this course, we will examine how museums are affected by a variety of legal regulations, including cultural heritage legislation, intellectual property issues, such as copyright, trademark and moral rights, first amendment and censorship claims, work-place hazards, contracts, and nonprofit and tax laws, such as valuation, charitable transfers, payments in lieu of taxes and the unrelated business income tax. Readings will consist of case law and secondary sources detailing the most pressing legal issues facing different types of museums, and group discussions will be supplemented by mock case studies and negotiation exercises.
Topics in Museum Studies: Art Exhibition History After 1960s (MSMS-GA 3330-002) Bruce Altshuler. 4 points.
This seminar will investigate the history of exhibitions and various approaches to the study of exhibition history. The focus will be on art exhibitions after 1960, with an emphasis on group exhibitions. Among the topics to be discussed are the significance of exhibitions within art and cultural history, the notion of an exhibitionary canon, the relationship between artworks and exhibition practice, and the major developments of this period. These developments include the growth of independent curating and new curatorial strategies, an increasing focus on thematic exhibitions, the expansion of biennials outside the Euro-American centers, and the use of discursive forms. Students will present the results of research on a particular exhibition or series of exhibitions, and submit a final paper on that topic. The permission of the instructor is required before registering for this course.
Topics in Museum Studies: The Museum Life of Contemporary Art (MSMS-GA 3330-003) Glenn Wharton. 4 points.
The topic of this seminar is the life of contemporary artworks within museums. Sessions are organized around the trajectory of complex artworks from acquisition, to documentation, storage, exhibition, and conservation intervention. Installation, media, and performance works serve as case studies to analyze social, legal, and material dynamics as they move through this life cycle. Examination of these stages engages various contemporary debates around artist rights, artist intentions, authorship, and authenticity. Students learn about museum processes as they assess practical challenges and theoretical questions posed by contemporary art in the museum. Students engage in project-based research to conduct artist interviews and/or investigate curatorial and conservation problems in artist archives. One group will research questions about the work of David Wojnarowicz, who was active in downtown New York during the 1970s and 1980s. His archive in the Fales Library & Special Collections will serve as a resource for the research. Other groups will conduct interviews with artists and museum staff concerning problematic artworks in local museums.
Topics in Museum Studies: Museums and Political Conflict (MSMS-GA 3330-004) Jeffrey Feldman. 4 points.
In contemporary Museum Studies, it is often said that museums are inherently political institutions. But how do politics actually happen in museums? What has "politics" meant for key exhibitions and collections and what avenues of political theory emerge from the museum in general? In this seminar, we will move beyond the general to examine how specific political concepts took shape in historic exhibitions and museum practices from the 1930s to the present. As such, our challenge will be twofold. On the one hand, we will consider how political movements have used the museums as an implement for advancing power and influence. On the other hand, we will consider how museum practices have "taken up" various kinds of politics: how museum objects and officials have engaged and advocated the agendas and outcomes of political parties, governments, policies, revolutions, and elections. Case studies will include: Degenerate Art (1937), Paris World Exhibition (1937), Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads" (1934), The Guggenheim Museum (1959), Yad Vashem (1965), Harlem on my Mind (1969), The Perfect Moment (1990), The Last Act (1994), The Jewish Museum of Bologna (1998), Sensation (1999), The Apartheid Museum (2001), Holocaust Cartoons (2006), among others. Through these case studies, students will examine the museum's role in the public sphere and the process whereby exhibitions contribute to-- or undermined--key aspects of deliberative democracy.
Topics in Museum Studies: Museums and Community (MSMS-GA 3330-005) Monica Montgomery, Glenn Wharton. 4 points.
There has been a turn towards community engagement in recent museum practice. Museum programming today often includes community outreach, civic activism, and community participation in its core activities. This trend manifests in all aspects of museum activity, including exhibition, education, research, and collections care. This course investigates the theoretical underpinnings of community engagement, along with its practical outcomes. It builds an understanding of community programming in the context of critical museum theory. Student projects include a critique of a community-based museum program and a research paper on community engagement in museum practice.
Topics in Museum Studies: Anthropology of Museums (MSMS-GA 3330-006) Jane Anderson. 4 points.
This course considers "the museum" as an object of ethnographic inquiry, examining it as a social institution embedded in a broader field of cultural heritage that is perpetually under negotiation. We reflect on how museum principles of classification, practices of collection and exhibition, uptake of media, technology, and archiving have influenced the ways in which knowledge has been formed, presented, and represented; and interrogate the role of museums as significant social actors in broad anthropological debates on power, materiality, value, representation, culture, nationalism, circulation, aesthetics, science, history, and "new" technologies. The museum is never simply a repository of arts, cultures, histories, or scientific knowledges, but also a site of tremendous creativity and a field of complex social relations.
Topics in Museum Studies: Blockbusters and Building Booms (MSMS-GA 3330-007) Miriam Basilio. 4 points.
Recent exhibitions including Tutankhamun and the Age of the Pharaohs at LACMA have revived ongoing discussions about the motivations that lead museums to program blockbusters and their effects on museum practices. Although financial pressures are often cited as a cause for such large, well-attended exhibitions, scholarly motivations should not be disregarded. Many museums in the US have recently undertaken building projects, which may be examined as part of broader initiatives - such as re-branding and audience development - that have also been linked to the blockbuster phenomenon. Historical and contemporary cases of the blockbuster, and recent instances of museum building projects will be examined in the course, in light of these museums' missions.
Topics in Museum Studies: Heritage, Memory and Negotiating Temporalities (MSMS-GA 3330-008) Jane Anderson, Elizabeth Rodini. 4 points.
What is heritage, how is it produced and to what extent does it (re)arrange relationships between time, memory and identity? How do some heritages come to be memorialized and institutionalized and others excluded and rendered peripheral? This seminar will cover the historical development of the concept of heritage as well as exploring the genesis of international heritage administration, charters, conventions, and national heritage laws. It will highlight emerging trends and practices including exploring the concept of “social memory” and contrast it with the more formalized techniques of heritage didactics and curation. We will explore the increasing interest in “bottom-up” heritage programming that directly involves the general public in the formulation, collection, and public presentation of historical themes and subjects as an ongoing social activity. Case studies from different regions and social contexts will be explored: “conflicted heritage,” “minority heritage,” “indigenous heritage,” “diasporic heritage,” “sites of conscience,” long-term community planning and involvement in “eco-museums”, the relationship between heritage, development and tourism and public heritage interpretation centers. Students will be asked to address specific problems in sites or organizations presented during the course and will formulate socio-interpretive assessments of projects or research of their choosing in the U.S. or abroad.
Topics in Museum Studies: Collections and Exhibitions of Latin American Art, 1900-Present (MSMS-GA 3330-009) Miriam Basilio. 4 points.
The history of collecting and exhibiting Latin American art is still at a beginning stage. This seminar will examine significant public, private and corporate collections as well as major exhibitions in both the U.S. and Europe as a way to gauge the shifts of taste, market value, public awareness and the role of Latin American art within the ever-expanding and reconfiguring canon. Questions of reception of Latin American art outside of the region itself will be a principal subject throughout the course. Readings will include theoretical studies on collecting and curating, histories of individual movements within the development of criticism and analysis of Latin American art from c.1950 onward, and essays on its collecting and display. For their research projects students will choose a major collection or exhibition from the past or present and examine its historical and critical significance. Students must have the permission of the professors before registering for this course.