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New Course Highlights Museum Studies on the London & Florence Program

Published: January 22, 2016

Go to ACM Notes

From the British Museum, monumental in its size and scope, to the "Vault," a collection of rock memorabilia tucked into the shop at the Hard Rock Café, London's many museums cover a lot of ground. What do these widely-varied collections, on subjects ranging from advertising to zoology, have in common?

That's one of many questions that students on the ACM London & Florence: Arts in Context program will explore in Collecting the World in London, a new elective course taught by Andrew Kennedy.

Visiting the British Museum

London & Florence participant Elizabeth Mescher from Lake Forest College shows her excitement at visiting the British Museum.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Mescher

The course is part of the program's increasing offerings in museum studies, which include components of art history courses in Florence related to collecting works of art, as well as the opportunities for internships at museums such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Medici Chapels.

"The faculty advisors for the London & Florence Program at the ACM colleges have discussed themes that can connect the study of the arts across the two cities, and museology and collecting emerged as a theme that plays to the strengths of both places," said Joan Gillespie, ACM Vice President and Director of Off-Campus Study Programs.

"Andrew Kennedy’s new course in London draws on the role of Britain's empire in fueling museums and collecting," Gillespie added, "and in Florence, Program Director Jodie Mariotti's course titled The Medici as Patrons of the Arts examines that city's historic prominence as a center of artistic production and collection."

Read more about Collecting the World!
Andrew Kenneday
Andrew Kennedy talks about the new course in London.

Collecting the World will make its debut in the second half of the spring 2016 semester. Beginning in 2017, Kennedy will also teach it as a three-week intensive course in January to launch two new schedule options for the program:

  • London first, 18-week spring semester: Focused on museum studies, this option begins with the three-week intensive Collecting the World course, followed by the seven-week semester curriculum for a total of 10 weeks in London. Students then travel to Florence for seven weeks.
  • Winter quarter/trimester in London: This 10-week option includes only the London portion of the 18-week semester.
Jodie Mariotti teaching on site

Jodie Mariotti teaching a class on site in Florence.

Photo courtesy of Maisie Lewis

The museum studies curriculum in Florence will get a boost next year, as well, according to Mariotti. "The set of electives in 2017 will include a course offered by Affiliated Scholar Rebecca Tucker, an art historian from Colorado College, called Cultures of Collecting," Mariotti noted. "In that course, she will explore what collecting reveals about people and society from antiquity to the present, particularly as it relates to Italy and Florence."

"I'm adjusting some elements of the course I teach on the Medici family to complement the new museology course in London," she said, "so between Florence and London, students will be able to take a variety of courses during the semester that relate to museum studies."

For selected students with advanced Italian language skills and a keen interest in museum studies, the program has ongoing relationships with prominent Florentine museums to offer the rare opportunity for internship placements at the Uffizi Gallery and the Medici Chapels.

At the Sherlock Holmes Museum

Emily Sheeks (Ripon College) at the Sherlock Holmes museum.

Photo courtesy of Emily Sheeks

Kennedy, who already teaches a course for the program titled London as Visual Text, said that his new course is focused on "demystifying" museums for students by exploring the narratives that museums create.

Collecting the World will include visits to nearly 20 museums in London and Oxford, ranging from well-known institutions such as the British Museum and the National Gallery to more unorthodox choices, including the Sherlock Holmes Museum and the Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising.

Course readings and excursions will be grouped in themes, such as Museums as Power-Knowledge, Museums and Empire, Medicine and the Body, and Life Under Glass: Collecting Nature. Discussion topics will range from the historical development of museums to controversies surrounding the display of human remains and repatriation of objects to the relationship between museums and popular culture.

For more details, download the syllabus for Collecting the World on the Courses in London webpage.


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