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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 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. Special attention will be devoted to the experimental exhibition ‘Multiple Modernities’ (Centre Pompidou, Paris 2013-2015), which aimed to look beyond an Eurocentric focus and presented modern art worldwide.
Keywords: curating / curator / objects / exhibitions and / audiences.

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

Course Objectives

  • General knowledge about curating practices including the role of the curator, the object and the audience.

  • Basic understanding of relevant theories in the field of curating/exhibition display.

  • Basic understanding of underlying exhibiting structures, narratives and canon formation.

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

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


  • Wednesday 13-15 hrs (draft)

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

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture series

Course Load

Course load in summary: 5 ects (140 hrs)

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

Assessment method

To be announced.


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




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.

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Mw Prof.dr. C.J.M. Zijlmans