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Museums Of London: A Cultural History (Module)

Module description

London is a global cultural capital served with an amazing array of institutions, including global, urban, university, house and art museums. But how did these organizations develop, and what social functions are they expected to fulfill? Why do people collect objects, and how do such collections transform over time, sometimes to become institutionalized as a museum? For centuries London has been a key player in the cultural appropriation of the ancient world, and the central location of King's on the Strand enables easy access to many great cultural institutions.

We will focus on three main themes: 1) the cultural history of London since the Eighteenth century; 2) the collection and appropriation of classical (Greek and Roman) antiquity through the lens of this global capital; 3) themes in museum studies, such as ‘education versus entertainment’ and ‘museum as theatre’, with reference to relevant examples in London.

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.

Select bibliography

  • Caygill, M. 2003. The British Museum: 250 Years
  • Pearce, S. 1992. Museums, Objects, and Collections
  • Ross, C. and J. Clark. 2008. London: The Illustrated History
  • Skinner, P. 2007. Museums of London: A Guide for Residents and Visitors
  • 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
  • Willis, A. 2004. Museums and Galleries of London

Staff information

Not applicable

Teaching pattern

Not applicable

Module assessment - more information

1 x 5,000 word essay/project

Key information

Module code 5AACAR14

Credit level 5

Assessment coursework

Credit value 15

Semester Semester 1 (autumn), Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module Yes