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Museums and Collections: A Practical Introduction


Admission requirements

Introduction to Heritage Studies 1 obtained.


Museum collections are heterogeneous assemblages, that were brought together in many different ways.
In this course, you will learn more about how collections are formed, how they are classified in museums, and the considerations involved in decision-making processes for exhibitions.

Special focus will lie on so-called ‘orphaned’ archaeological and ethnographic collections: those collections that are no longer cared for by curators and languish in storage without any form of attention by researchers and academics.

The course will include a practical assignment in which you will work with actual materials, attempting to ‘activate’ these collections by restoring their research potential, or finding creative ways to use them in future exhibitions. Questions of provenance and provenience will play an important role.

This combination of practical and theoretical study should prepare you for possible museum internships or educational work for a broad public, related to archaeological collections.

Course set-up

The course combines seven 2-hour lectures and discussion with an hour of practical collections-based work, every week.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the student can:

  • Describe the different ways in which archaeological collections are created and classified;

  • Distinguish the different interest groups involved in exhibition-making;

  • Explain the methodologies and importance of provenance research;

  • Apply concepts and techniques learned during the course to curate archaeological collections;

  • Identify the basic principles of collection management.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture;

  • Tutorial;

  • Assignments;

  • Readings.

Course load

  • 14 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 7 hours of tutorials (0,5 ec);

  • 210 pages of literature (1,5 ec);

  • Class assignments/discussion (1 ec);

  • Final written assignment (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Final written assignment (75%);

  • Weekly class assignments (25%).

There will be 1 final result. A pass of the average grade is sufficient. A retake is only possible for the final paper, not the assignments.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Reading list

  • Swain, Hedley. 2007. An Introduction to Museum Archaeology. Cambrigde University Press;

  • Additional readings for the course will be provided through Brightspace.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. M.E. (Martin) Berger.


Compulsory attendance.