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Curating in a Digital Age


Admission requirements

Students who are not enrolled in the Master Arts and Culture should contact the Coordinator of Studies in order to enroll. 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.


The role of digital data is becoming relevant in all aspects of contemporary society, and museums for arts and culture are no exception. They are increasingly responsible for not only physical collections, but also fast-growing data collections generated through the acquisition of digital-born heritage, as well as digitization, imaging and citizen science. How can this enable curators to gain new insights in the past and offer unique perspectives in exhibitions?

This module will challenge you to explore the potential of digital humanities methods for curating exhibitions. It will cover a wide spectrum of issues that you encounter while working with data collections. You will develop skills that you need for curating exhibitions, as well as a range of critical and (data) analytical skills. Through readings, discussions and field trips, you will also develop critical thinking about how museums shape knowledge through their classification and ordering of collections, as well as their interpretation and presentation in exhibitions.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • learn about current issues and controversies concerning (digital) curation;

  • be able to understand and critically analyse cultural data collections;

  • gain theoretical knowledge of cultural analytics and apply it to study art historical and cultural phenomena;

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

  • develop research skills in formulating a relevant research question to curate an exhibition;

  • Research Master students that take this course will curate an exhibition 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 go more in-depth within their writing (using 5000 words excluding annotations and bibliography instead of 4000 words).


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • 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 of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Assessment method


  • Active participation and assignments (pass/fail);

  • oral presentation (20%);

  • portfolio (80%).


The final grade is the average of the two grades (20% and 80%) A student passes the class if the average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.


The re-sit consists of two parts:

  • When a student fails their project portfolio, the resit assessment is a paper (80%)

  • When a student fails their oral presentation and/or active participation and assignments, the resit assessment involves alternative assignments (20%)

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

Readings will be made available via Brightspace.


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 the study adviser

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


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

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


  • Fieldtrips and guest lectures are an important part of the course. Students will be expected to make visits to museums and libraries;

  • In the specialisation “Museums and Collections” (MA Arts and Culture), this module 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, this module also holds value for the specialisation Art of the Contemporary World and World Art Studies.