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Museum Matters II: Curating Collections


Admission requirements

See Teaching and Examination Regulations.


Museums are powerful and influential institutions in their ability to shape knowledge through their collections and exhibitions. But besides being educational bodies of authority, they are also becoming sites of infotainment in their quest to attract and please the public. Curating has become a crucial tool for museums.

In this seminar we will study the important role of curating and exhibiting in museums throughout the world. Current issues and controversies concerning curating and exhibiting will be discussed and narratives of exhibitions will be analyzed. We will examine the politics and ethics of exhibitions in a wide variety of museums. Various curatorial practices and theories will be scrutized. Special attention will be given to canonization, exhibition rhetoric and the ‘educational turn’. As part of the course, we will design and install our own exhibition.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • gain knowledge of museum theory with an emphasis on theory of exhibiting and curating;

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

  • gain knowledge of and experience in exhibiting;

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

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


Please consult the timetable on the MA Arts and Culture website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Course Load

Museum Matters II: Curating Collections

  • 15%: active participation in class and weekly assignments;

  • 20%: oral presentation;

  • 15%: contribution to exhibition;

  • 50%: paper (3000 words).

The final grade is the average of the four grades (15%, 20%, 15%, 50%). A student passes the class if the average is a 6.0 or higher and obtained at least a 6.0 for the paper.


Re-sit is only allowed if the average is below 6.0. The re-sit consist of two parts (paper 50% and/or alternative assignment 50%). Students only re-take the part that was insufficient.


Blackboard will be used for special announcements, assignments and required weekly reading. Students will be expected to post questions (weekly) and assignments in Discussion Board.

Reading list

Reading list will be posted on Blackboard.


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 Mrs. Martine van Leeuwen MA the co-ordinator of studies.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • 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.

Contact information

Mw. Dr. M.A. (Nana) Leigh