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Level 5

5AACAR14 Museums of London

Credit value: 15 credits                                      
Module convenor/tutor 2018/19: Dr Eóin O'Donoghue
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20: Dr Ellen Adams 
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminar (weekly), 5 of which are based in museums.
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment pattern 2019/20: 1 x 750-word floor plan commentary (30%); 1 x 2,000 word essay (70%)

Assessment Pattern pre-2019/20:

Assessment: 1 x essay of 3,000 words (75%), 1 x floor-plan analysis of 1,000 words (25%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

NB: Module open to Study Abroad students only.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

London is a global cultural capital served with an amazing array of institutions, including universal, urban, university, house and art museums. But how did these organizations develop, and what social functions are they expected to fulfil? Why do people collect objects, and how do their collections transform over time, sometimes to become institutionalized as a museum? And why did the cultures and antiquities of ancient Greece and Rome play such a key role in these developments? 

We will focus on four main themes: 1) the cultural history of London’s museums; 2) the collection and appropriation of classical (Greek and Roman) antiquity; 3) neoclassicism in London; and 4) themes in museum studies, such as education versus entertainment, museum ethics, and museum as theatre. 

The central location of King's enables easy access to many great cultural institutions. Frequent trips (tour-led or independent) form a key part of this module, and include: the British Museum, the Tate Britain, the Museum of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery, with talks by curators where appropriate.  Worksheets are provided for guidance on the weekly independent trips. The organized tours include a 'hands-on' session at the British Museum to handle and draw Greek vases.  Depending on student numbers, the class may be divided into two groups for tours, and a cap of 24 students will be imposed.  No detailed prior knowledge of classical antiquities is required.  

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • Coltman, V. 2006. Fabricating the Antique: Neoclassicism in Britain, 1760-1800
  • Jenkins, I. 1992. Archaeologists and Aesthetes in the Sculpture Galleries of the British Museum 1800-1939
  • MacGregor, A. 2007. Curiosity and Enlightenment: Collectors and Collecting from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century
  • Scott, J. 2003. The Pleasures of Antiquity: British Collectors of Greece and Rome
  • Sloan, K. (ed.) 2003. Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century
  • Stourton, J. and C. Sebag-Monteflore. 2012. The British as Art Collectors: From the Tudors to the Present
  • Swain, H. 2007. An Introduction to Museum Archaeology
  • Taylor, B. 1999. Art for the Nation
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