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The History of Museums


Admission requirements

There are no additional requirements.


The central theme of this lecture course is the history and development of museums, beginning with the idea of the museum that developed with early modern collecting practices of princes and scholars of the Renaissance, including their vast interests in the global word and antiquities, as well as science, nature and art, through to the institutional collecting inspired by the French Revolution and Enlightenment, up to 19th-century nation building in Europe and the invention of national museums. The emphasis will be on the intellectual ideas that drove early modern collectors and modern museum founders and the political and theoretical issues that informed the rise of modern museums, in terms of their architecture, mission, collecting goals, colonial and postcolonial practices and other important social issues.

Course objectives

  • Students learn to distinguish the most important types of collections in various museums, archives, monuments and heritage sites and identify similarities and differences.

  • Students learn to know why and in what ways individuals and institutions have collected cultural objects and have established heritage collections.

  • Students acquire basic knowledge of the ways in which heritage collections in the course of time have been made accessible to, and have been used by various audiences.

  • Students learn to classify, characterize and analyse heritage collections.

  • Students learn to identify and understand crucial historical and contemporary museum practices and debates.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture series

  • Student visits to museums

Assessment method


Two digital examinations on the lecture series and readings.


  • Mid term exam: 50% of final grade

  • Final exam: 50% of final grade

The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average combined with an additional requirement.
Additional requirement: both constituent examinations must at least be graded 6.0.


A resit/ rewrite can be done for constituent examinations which are failed. As far as applicable all resits/ rewrites take place at the same time, after the final (constituent) examination.

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 posted on Brightspace


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.
For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Student administration Arsenaal


Not applicable.