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Curating Cultures



This course focusses on the concept of curating: the caring for, researching and interpreting of (cultural) objects. Objects from culture and nature, artworks, material and immaterial heritage, these are all kept in museums and collections. They are taken care of but they are also displayed, and this can happen in innumerable ways: in exhibitions, different displays of the permanent collection, dioramas, temporary displays, workshops, websites, etc. These displays all communicate something, a certain message, underlying ideas and concepts, narratives, and canons.

What then is an exhibition and what are the exhibition agents? What is a curator? What role does the curator play and what is the role of the audience(s)? In this course we will study the changing roles of past and recent practices, ways of displaying and curatorial practices, narratives and canon formation. Introductions into relevant theories and practices will alternate with in-depth case-studies.

Keywords: curating / curator / objects / exhibitions / audiences.

Course Objectives

  • Students acquire general knowledge about curating practices including the role of the curator, the object and the audience.

  • Students acquire a basic understanding of relevant theories in the field of curating/exhibition display.

  • Students acquire a basic understanding of underlying exhibiting structures, narratives and canon formation.

  • Students gain insight into how exhibitions and displays are created (selection processes, technical and practical conditions).

  • Students gain insight into modern and contemporary art practices on the basis of the case-studies.


Please note: for the final schedule refer to Collegeroosters / Timetable BA Art History on the Art History website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture series

Course Load

Course load in summary: 5 ects (140 hrs)

28 hrs: Attending lectures (2 hrs weekly x 13 weeks)
26 hrs: Lecture preparations (reading texts)
20 hrs: Preparing mid term assignment
62 hrs: Exam preparation (reading, writing abstracts etc.)
04 hrs: Exams
140 hrs

Assessment method

  • Mid term assignment (written): 40% of final grade.

  • Final exam (written): 60% of final grade.

Compensation: The weighted average of the (constituent) examinations must be at least 6.0 (= a pass). For both the mid-term exam and the final exam a mark below 5.0 is not allowed.

Re-sit: 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.

Exam review: 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 be organized.


Blackboard will be used for announcemnets, course materials and communication.


  • E. Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture. London / New York: Routledge, 2005. See Blackboard for further reading materials.


Via uSis.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

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

Registration Studeren à la Carte and Contractonderwijs

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Send an e-mail to the study coordinator of the BA Art History / Arts, Media and Society