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Museums and Collections: A Practical Introduction


Admission requirements



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’ or legacy 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 ethics and provenance 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 two-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 different techniques used in exhibition-making;

  • Explain the importance of provenance research for understanding archaeological (museum) collections;

  • 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.

Assessment method

  • Final written assignment (80%);

  • Weekly class assignments (20%).

There will be one 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.

The final assignment should be handed in 3 weeks after the end of the course.

Reading list

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

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


Enrolment for all components of your study programme through MyStudymap. is mandatory. This applies to both compulsory elements and elective credits. If you are not enrolled, you may not participate.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and exam enrolment page.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please contact the exchange coordinator for information on how to apply.

All information for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


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


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • There is a maximum of 20 students for the course. Priority will be given to Bachelor Archaeology students in the track Heritage and Society who have to follow this course as part of their compulsory curriculum.