Curation and Context: From Museums to Marketing Winter 2024

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Class Details

Nothing is truly “presented without context.” The circumstances and framing of an image or information matter as much as the object, artwork, or datapoint itself. This course will examine how curation is always at play, complex layers of context exist, and a specific perspective is always being presented–whether we’re in a museum, looking at a website, or anything else humans make. You’ve heard of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the British Museum in London, but what about the Wine Cultures and Civilisations Museum in Bordeaux or the Sex Machines Museum in Prague? Or perhaps you’ve scrolled through insta photos taken at the Museum of Ice Cream or the Color Factory? Speaking of social media, perhaps you’ve already begun to build your brand online? While we may be introduced to some concept of a critical eye towards curation & the information we’re being presented during our classes and research at Williams, it only becomes more important as we encounter art, advertisements, stories, products, and propaganda in the real world. In this course, we will explore how different museums, exhibits, and experiences curate and contextualize art & other assets for visitors–and we will apply that same analytical approach to brands, business, and individuals in the digital and online space. We will practice asking ourselves – What am I looking at? What am I being told about it? Who is showing this to me, and why? Where does this fit into larger narratives of culture and history? And with all that in mind–what do I think about it? Evaluation will be based on class participation (2 hours x 3 days / week), two short (2-3 page) papers, and a final project presentation. Outside of class, you will have reading assignments as well as researching & developing your final project. We will take advantage of the local museums available by taking class field trips to WCMA, The Clark Art Institute, and Mass MoCA.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 18
Expected: NA
Class#: 1045
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Paper(s) or report(s); Presentation(s)
Prerequisites: Preferred experience with any Art History course
Enrollment Preferences: Prefer juniors and seniors; can send short 1-2 paragraphs about why they are interested in this course.
Unit Notes: Katherine Conaway '09 is a freelance consultant, writer, and remote worker who has traveled to 50+ countries. She's the Marketing Director for a non-profit, has been a producer at design agencies, on a museum board, and was an ArtH major.
Materials/Lab Fee: $25
Attributes: SLFX Winter Study Self-Expression
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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