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ARTH 246
Do You See What I See?! Museum Culture Fall 2020
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

We are all entangled in global visual culture, an endless stream of images, information, and experiences. However, how we make meaning of it depends on so many variables–who we are, where we are, and what we view and value. It also depends on what tools we bring to bear, especially in such challenging times! A critical question is how “art” figures and what agency it wields among people. By extension, what role do museums play in the education of individuals and the formation of communities? This class is an opportunity to explore these issues with particular reference to our own institution (Williams College Museum of Art or WCMA) and the objects enshrined therein. We will consider how the collection has grown and changed over time, and compare that trajectory with those of other museums to broaden our inquiry. How, for example, are local and/or globalizing agendas manifest in exhibitions and acquisitions? And how does the heritage industry factor in transnational museum culture? Along the way, we will consider diverse materials–from oil painting to wooden sculpture, numismatics to manuscripts, photography to performance—and how different cultures might be presented, distorted and even erased in gallery installations and public spaces. A primary focus will be the role of curators—what do they do and how does their work help to shape the world we occupy? This will be a hands-on class beginning with the following question: What have YOU curated lately?
The Class: Format: seminar; Class will be synchronous and remote. We will use Power Point and Zoom to support discussion about visual materials.
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 2900
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Mandatory class attendance and substantive participation, weekly Glow Posts, curatorial term project.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Sophomores and majors.
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: We will cover museums in diverse cultures, serving differences of power and communities of difference. The geographic spread will encompass the "Orient", Europe and America.
Attributes: ARTH post-1800 Courses

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