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Museum Matters II: Curating Collections


Admission requirements

Students from other programmes are welcome to enroll in this course. Students registered in the (Research) Master Arts and Culture: Museums and Collections, take priority.
Students who are not enrolled in the Master Arts and Culture should contact the Coordinator of Studies in order to enroll.


Museums are powerful and influential institutions in their ability to shape knowledge through their collections and exhibitions. Curating has become a crucial tool for museums in the representation of the (hi)stories they construct.

In this seminar we will study the important role of curators, 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 exhibition rhetoric and the growing role of audiences. 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

  • attending seminar: 13 × 3 hours = 39 hours;

  • preparation seminar (incl. reading, museum visits, weekly assignments): 8 × 13 hours = 104 hours;

  • installation exhibition 8 hours

  • attending and contributing to symposium: 7 hours;

  • research and writing paper: 122 hours.

Assessment method

  • Active participation in class and weekly assignments (15%);

  • Oral presentation (20%);

  • Contribution to exhibition (15%);

  • Paper, 3000 words (50%).


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
Administrations Office Huizinga