MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Managing Collections and Exhibitions

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC61061
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course is designed to equip AGMS students with a range of critical, theoretical, methodological and professional knowledge and skills relating to the management and development of exhibitions and collections. It provides, also, a brief introduction to issues involved in ‘reading’ and understanding the social life of ‘things’ and the different meanings that are constructed by users of museum collections. It offers students an introduction to exhibition planning and development. In particular, it focuses on strategies and current/good practices of documentation, collection management and conservation; and overviews of exhibition briefs, media and audiences.

Seminars and workshops on the above themes run by staff and visiting museum professionals will be followed by a relevant group project student activity every week. The group project will draw on scenario-based practical collection management activities. The outputs of these activities will form sections of a group project portfolio.


  • To provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in key areas of museum operation, namely collection management, documentation and conservation
  • To introduce students to contemporary theoretical and practical approaches to exhibition development, audiences and media.




Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe and analyse the relationship between theory and practice in collection management and exhibition development.
  • Examine and define key issues in relation to documentation, conservation, collection management, exhibition planning and text writing in museum environments.
  • Demonstrate ability in articulating the relevance of objects and collections for museums and audiences
  • Analyse the role of audiences in collection documentation and exhibition development
  • Position the role of objects and collections in the overall museum strategy and operation.
  • Identify ethical issues relevant to conservation and documentation of collections

Intellectual skills

  • Understand the links between theory and contemporary practice in key areas of the museum operation
  • Draw on relevant current and best practice and theoretical discussions to inform the management of collections and development of exhibitions.

Practical skills

  • Use a collections management software
  • Plan for and perform basic object conservation
  • Design an exhibition brief
  • Write exhibition panels and labels

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Design and plan projects
  • Team work and communication skills
  • Time Management skills
  • Negotiation skills

Employability skills

- Communicate the value and applicability of digital thinking into organisational practice - Articulate clearly key challenges related to collection management - Get experience in using a collections management software - Acquire skills in project management and exhibition development - Manage time efficiently

Assessment methods

Group Project Proposal 0%
Group Project Portfolio 40%
Individual Public Engagement Plan 60%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Individual Public Engagement Plan surgery and written comments


Group Project surgery and written comments


Academic advisor meeting





Recommended reading

Alberti, S.J.M.M. (2012) ‘Preparing and conserving’, in Dudley, S.H. Museum Objects. Experiencing the Properties of Things, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 90-94

Altshuler, B. (ed). 2005. Collecting the new: museums and contemporary art. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Bann, S., (2003) 'The Return to Curiosity: Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Museum Display' in McClellan, A. (ed) Art and Its Publics. London: Blackwell.

 Baudrillard, J. 1994. ‘The System of Collecting’ in Elsner, J and Cardinal, R (eds) The Cultures of Collecting London: Reaktion Books pp. 7-24

Belk, R.W. 1995. Collecting in a Consumer Society. London and New York: Routledge

Bouquet, M. (2001) 'The Art of Exhibition Making as a Problem of Translation' in Bouquet, M. (ed.) Academic Anthropology and the Museum, New York: Berghahn, pp. 177 – 197

Dadson, E. 2012. Emergency Planning and Response for Libraries, Archives and Museums. Facet Publishing, London.

Elsner, J and Cardinal, R. 1994. The Cultures of Collecting London: Reaktion Books

Ferguson, Bruce W. (1995) ‘Exhibition Rhetorics: Material Speech and Utter Sense’ in R. Greenberg, B.W. Ferguson and S. Nairne (eds.) Thinking about exhibitions, London: Routledge, pp. 175-190

Greenblatt, S. (1991) 'Resonance and Wonder’, in Ivan Karp and Stephen D Lavine (eds),

Exhibiting Cultures, The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and London, pp. 42 – 56

Harrison, M. And McKenna G. (2008) Documentation. A practical guide, Cambridge: Collections Trust

Hillhouse, S. 2009. Collections Management: a practical guide. Collections Trust

Knell, Simon J. (ed.) 2004. Museums and the future of collecting. 2nd edn. Aldershot: Ashgate. [especially introduction]

Lang, R. & Woollard, V. (eds) (2006) The Responsive Museum, Ashgate Press

Pearce, S.M. 2002. The Collector's Voice: Critical Readings in the Practice of Collecting, Ashgate, London

Pearce, S.M. 1995. On Collecting: An introduction into Collecting in the European Tradition, Routledge, London and New York

Ravelli, L. J. (2006) Museum Texts. Communication Frameworks. London: Routledge.

Sandell, R. (2006). Museums And The Combating Of Prejudice, London: Routledge.

Serrell, B. (2006) Judging Exhibitions: A Framework for Assessing Excellence, Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.



Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Work based learning 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 245

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Konstantinos Arvanitis Unit coordinator

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