Photo overlooking the totem pole in the Pitt Rivers Museum


During the Final Honour School, students delve more deeply into the subject areas which have been introduced to them in the first year. They will also decide on which three options they would like to take from the following list of 30 subjects. One option is studied in the second year, two are studied in the third year.

Understanding Museums & Collections

This paper provides an introduction to the study of museums and collections, with particular reference to approaches drawn from archaeology, anthropology, history of art, history of science, and science and technology studies (STS).

The classes will provide students with an introduction to four main areas in the study of museums and collections: the history of museums; museums and time; museums, culture and nature; and collections as practices. These areas will be explored through examples drawn the earliest archaeological evidence for collecting (including hoarding and deposition) through the first museums in the ancient world, to medieval, early modern, modern and contemporary collections and museums. The development of 19th- and 20th-century ideas of preservation and heritage will also be introduced.

The tutorials will provide students with the opportunity to explore aspects of particular museums and collections through a series of themes, including the history of ideas of assemblage and collection; art and aesthetics; science and the natural world; objectivity and knowledge production; curiosity, performance and colonialism; identity, politics and cultural repatriation; material, digital and virtual museums; and preservation and heritage.

Last update on 09/12/16 by Robyn Mason.

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