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Museum History of Florence


Admission requirements

Admission to MA Arts and Culture: Museum Studies / Art History, research master Arts and Culture, research master Arts, Literature and Media. Priority is given to students of the MA Arts and Culture.


The spectacular “density” of artworks and architecture in Florence, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site (1982, 2015), reflects a nucleus of some of the most important collecting histories and museums in the world. This course will introduce students to these rich collecting histories, ranging from the unparalleled Renaissance acquisitions of the Medici dynasty displayed in their palaces, gardens and offices, to the extraordinary house museums and showrooms of 19th and 20th century collectors, dealers and restorers. The city’s important museums that opened during its brief tenure as state capital (1865-1869), including Italy’s first anthropology museum, the Bargello Museum of Sculpture and Applied Arts, and Museo dell’Opera di Duomo, will be studied for the intellectual and political motivations that formed them, as well as for their sumptuous collections. The role that architecture plays in these museum identities will be addressed, as will the emergence of Italian and foreign educational and research institutions and modern museums in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The excursion to Florence will be anticipated with seminars that introduce students to the museum and collecting history of Florence, masterworks in the collections, and theoretical frameworks that place these museums in a broader historical context of European museum formation. Seminar topics and discussion will also help students develop paper topics and plan research for the Florence excursion.

Course objectives

  • Critically review important concepts in museum studies and art history regarding museums, collecting and museum history and theory and relate them to collections and institutions in Florence, Italy.

  • Demonstrate skill in formulating a research question within the framework of this course and put together a relevant bibliography.

  • Be able to independently research a museological or art historical topic; critically review the relevant scholarly literature and primary sources; and present research results in a written report (c. 5000 words).

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the development of museums in a city with some of the most renowned artworks and cultural institutions in the world.

  • Research Master students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (6000 words excluding annotations and bibliography instead of 5000 words).


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Excursion

Attendance is compulsory. Students can miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to apply to the Examination Board in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Assessment method


  • Active participation/cooperation in class/group (25%)

  • Research Paper of 5000 words (excl. references) (75%); 6000 words (excl references) for ResMA-students


The final grade is the average of the two grades (25% and 75%) A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher. Marks for class participation and the paper must both be a 6.0 or higher.


The re-sit can consist of one or two parts: there is a re-sit for the paper (75%) and/or an alternative assignment for class participation/cooperation (25%).

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

To be announced on Brightspace


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


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

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


The excursion to Florence is mandatory for this course. It will take place in the second week of May. Students don’t have to arrange accommodation or travel. These costs will be covered by funds.