ARTH 527
Acquiring Art: Selecting and Purchasing Objects For WCMA Fall 2019
Division I
Cross-listed ECON 227 / ARTH 327 / ARTH 527

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How do museums acquire art? Factors considered in selecting objects include: the museum’s existing collection, its mission, the availability of suitable objects, evaluation of the art historical importance of potential purchases, and the available budget. How can objects be identified and obtained at the most reasonable cost? How do auctions work and what strategies are best for purchasing works at auction? Is it more economical to purchase art at auction or to work with dealers or (for contemporary works) directly with artists? Do museums consider value in the same way as private collectors? What role does an object’s history and condition play in the evaluation process? In this course students will work as teams to identify and propose objects for addition to the collection of the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA). A significant budget will be made available for the acquisition. We will discuss approaches for identification, acquisition and evaluation of objects. Student teams will be responsible for identifying a set of objects that would make appropriate additions to the WCMA collection, and a strategy for acquiring one or more of those objects. Working with the advice of WCMA curatorial staff, one or more of these objects will be acquired using the agreed strategy, and the object will become part of the WCMA permanent collection. Graduate students will participate in all aspects of the class but may be required to undertake different assignments.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 2011
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three papers of 10-15 pages each and class participation; student teams will make proposals for objects;each student will be required to submit three papers, dealing with the objects, the likely cost, and the best strategy
Prerequisites: ECON 110 or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: senior majors in Art History, Economics and Political Economy; graduate students will be admitted only by permission of instructors
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ECON 227 Division II ARTH 327 Division I ARTH 527 Division I

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