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Level 5

5AACAR25 Grand Tour: Antiquities in London from the Enlightenment to the Present Day

Credit value: 15 credits
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Ellen Adams
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminar (weekly), 5 of which are based in museums
Assessment: 1 x essay of 3,000 words (75%), 1 x floor-plan analysis of 1,000 words (25%)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
4AACAA01 Art & Archaeology of Greece & Rome preferred.

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 through the lens of this global capital; 3) Neoclassicism in London; 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 form a key part of this module, and may include: the British Museum, Soane's Museum, the Museum of London, the Hunterian museum and the National Gallery, with talks by curators where appropriate. 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. 2009. Classical Sculpture and the Culture of Collecting in Britain since 1760
  • 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
  • Pearce, S. 1992. Museums, Objects, and Collections
  • Sloan, K. (ed.) 2003. Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century
  • Swain, H. 2007. An Introduction to Museum Archaeology
  • Taylor, B. 1999. Art for the Nation
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