BA Art History and English Literature

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
How to be a Curator: Art Collections and Collection Management

Unit code AHCP33301
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Art History and Cultural Practices
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This course is designed to spotlight the particular skills, initiatives and general decision-making processes   associated with running art collections owned by the University of Manchester. On top of all this, it promotes research-based learning through direct engagement with significant holdings of paintings, prints, drawings, rare books, photographs, textiles, ceramics, archives and other forms of material culture.

 The first section of this course focuses on Tabley House, which contains internationally-important examples of decorative and fine arts from the period c.1650-1850. The second part of the course concentrates on the world-famous examples of works of art photography, manuscripts and objects with associational value held in the Special Collections at The John Rylands Library. The final part of the course examines the world-class collection of fine art, works on paper, textiles, wallpaper and sculpture at The Whitworth. In sum, students will work on-site alongside senior curators to discover how they:

document, manage and enrich their collections;

provide access to audiences (academic and public);

identify potential exhibition and display topics;

arrange loan transfers, and address conservation and other collection-management issues.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Collecting, Museums, Display: The Afterlife of Objects AHCP20111 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Aims

To engage with art works and documentary sources within our chief collections;  to support and enhance research-based learning; to  give an understanding of the nature of  collection development management in general and of its critical, interpretive and  operational contexts  in particular; to identify how, why and in what contexts curators and cultural managers utilize their collections to encourage public engagement and scholarly activity; to support the development of critical and argumentative skills in written and oral contexts.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Syllabus

INTRODUCTION

Week 1: introduction to the course by the course unit director (3 hrs)

BLOCK 1

Weeks 2-4:

3 x 2 hr field trips to Tabley House (on-site teaching will be delivered in partnership with colleagues from Tabley House), plus 3 x 1 hr group tutorial with the course director.

Week 2: introduction to the Tabley collection (2 hrs); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 3: Workshop at Tabley on collection-based project or activity (2 hrs); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 4: Presentation seminar at Tabley on collection-based project or activity (2hs); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

BLOCK 2

3 x 2 hour field trips to the Special Collections, John Rylands Library (on-site teaching will be delivered in partnership with colleagues from  the University of Manchester Library’s Special Collections, John Rylands Library), plus 3 x 1 hour tutorials with the course director.

Week 5: Introduction to the Special collections (2 hrs.); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 6: Special Collections Workshop on collection-based project or activity (2 hrs.); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 7: Special Collections Presentation Seminar on collection-based project or activity (2 hrs); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

BLOCK 3

3 x 2 hour field trips to The Whitworth (on-site teaching will be delivered in partnership with colleagues from The Whitworth), plus 3 x 1 hour tutorials with the course director.

Week 8: Introduction to The Whitworth Collection (2hrs.); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 9: Workshop at The Whitworth on collection-based project or activity (2 hrs); 1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 10: Presentation seminar at The Whitworth on collection-based project or activity (2 hrs);

1 hr group tutorial with course director.

Week 11: Student Symposium at the Study Centre, The Whitworth (3 hrs).

Teaching and learning methods

Classes will be taught in seminar groups and field trips.

Course unit text , images and seminar PowerPoints will be available via Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Critically  analyse and contextualise  particular art work, archives, and curatorial systems at Tabley House, The Whitworth and The Special Collections, John Rylands Library
  • Identify and evaluate a range of critical and operational contexts pertaining to collection management and display

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Reflect critically on relevant art historical and cultural scholarship
  • Apply ideas of classification and display to a range of case studies
  • Develop skills of linguistic criticism and interpretation

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Strengthen research skills through assessed work
  • Engage with on-line research using relevant websites and databases contained in the course unit guide bibliography

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Work independently
  • Collaborate in seminar group work
  • Develop and complete assessments to specified deadlines
  • Participate constructively in seminar discussions and projects

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 50%
Oral assessment/presentation 50%

Feedback methods

  • oral and written feedback Critical Executive Summary of Field Work undertaken during session in week 3 during session at Tabley House
  • oral feedback and written feedback on presentations
  • oral and written feedback on  placement report
  • additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Archer, John, H. G. (ed.), Art and Architecture in Victorian Manchester, 1985

Althshuler, Bruce,The Avant-Garde in exhibition : new art in the 20th century, 1994

Althshuler, Bruce, Exhibitions That Made Art History, 2 vols, 2008-13

Barlow, Paul, & Colin Trodd (eds.), Governing Cultures: Art Institutions in Victorian London , 2000

Harrison, Charles, et al( eds), Art in Theory 1648-1815, 2000.

Harrison, Charles, et al( eds), Art in Theory 1815-1900,1998

Macdonald, Sharon, A  Companion to Museum Studies, 2005

Obrist, Hans-Ulrich, A Brief History of Curating, 2008

Obrist, Hans-Ulrich,  Ways of Curating, 2015

O’Neil, Paul, Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), 2012

Pointon, Marcia (ed.), Art Apart, Manchester, 1994

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Colin Trodd Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Students selected based on academic record in prior years and written application to course head.

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