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Curating in a Digital Age


Admission requirements

Students who are not enrolled in the Master Arts and Culture should contact the Coordinator of Studies in order to enroll. Students registered in the (Research) Master Arts and Culture: Museums and Collections, take priority. Students who are not enrolled in the Master Arts and Culture should contact the Coordinator of Studies in order to enroll.


The role of digital data is becoming relevant in all aspects of contemporary society, and museums are no exception. They are increasingly responsible for not only physical collections, but also fast-growing data collections generated through the acquisition of digital-born heritage, as well as digitization, imaging and citizen science. How can this enable curators to gain new insights in the past and offer unique perspectives in exhibitions? In this module, we will take a cross-disciplinary view on curating by focusing on both physical and digital collections.

You will design your own exhibition, which will introduce you to various stages of exhibition-making, like exhibitions research and the challenges of proposal writing. In hands-on sessions you will learn basic data skills and explore the potential of digital humanities methods for making exhibitions. Through readings, discussions and field trips, you will also develop critical thinking about how museums shape knowledge through their classification and ordering of collections, as well as their interpretation and presentation in exhibitions.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • gain insight into current issues and controversies concerning museum curating and exhibitions;

  • gain theoretical knowledge of and practical experience in curating;

  • learn basic data analysis and visualisation skills;

  • practice their communicative skills in weekly debates and in the presentation of their own research topic;

  • develop their research skills in formulating a relevant research question and writing a paper on this subject of their own choice.

  • Research Master students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (5000 words excluding annotations and bibliography instead of 4000 words).


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

Attendance is compulsory. Students can miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to apply to the Examination Board of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Assessment method


  • Active participation and assignments (pass/fail);

  • Research paper (80%);

  • Oral presentation (20%)


The final grade is the average of the two grades (20% and 80%) A student passes the class if the average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.


The re-sit consists of two parts:

  • When a student fails their project portfolio, the resit assessment is a paper (80%)

  • When a student fails their oral presentation and/or active participation and assignments, the resit assessment involves alternative assignments (20%)

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Readings will be made available via Brightspace.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: Please see the website Study in Leiden for information on how to apply/register for this course.

Students who are not in the MA Arts and Culture programme, but who would like to take this course as an optional course, please contact Drs. E.C.(Els) Munter the co-ordinator of studies.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. K. (Karin) de Wild


  • Fieldtrips and guest lectures are an important part of the course. Students will be expected to make frequent visits to museums in order to analyze exhibitions;

  • in the specialisation Museums and Collections of the MA Arts and Culture, this course focuses on contemporary practices of the museum as sites of knowledge production and platform of discussion and debate regarding issues of cultural value, identity and memory. As a free component course it also holds value for the specialisation Art of the Contemporary World and World Art Studies.