History and Philosophy of Museums

Subject AHIS90005 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

On campus

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2
Total Time Commitment: 120
Prerequisites: Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in art history, the Master of Art Curatorship or Cinema Management.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: None


Christopher Marshall


Subject Overview:

This subject examines the growth of the museum from its origins in the wunderkammer and antiquarian collections of the 16th century to the dynamic and constantly shifting field of possibilities available to museums today. The subject charts the progression of the museum from the private collections of the Renaissance and Baroque to the vast public institutional spaces of the late 18th and 19th centuries, and beyond. Special attention will be given to the ways in which the changing objectives of the museum (e.g. moral elevation, public instruction, mass entertainment, propoganda) are reflected in the architecture, design and display techniques developed in different counties in different times. Students should develop an understanding of the relationship between museums and concepts of national and cultural identity, focusing on their development within Australia. This will include visits to appropriate sites and institutions.

  • be able to understand the social, cultural and political history of museums and the history of collecting;
  • be able to understand the changing role of museums / galleries in society as reflected in their architecture, design and display techniques; and
  • be able to develop an understanding of the relationship between museums and concepts of national and cultural identity.
Assessment: A 2000 word exercise 40% (due during the semester), a 3000 word research essay 50% (due in the examination period) and 10% participation. A minimum 75% attendance at tutorials is also expected as a hurdler equirement in order to pass the subject.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have further developed their research skills;
  • have developed their ability to think and argue critically and to express their ideas in written communication; and
  • have developed skills in oral presentation.
Related Course(s): Master of Art Curatorship (Coursework and Minor Thesis)
Master of Arts Management
Master of Arts in Art History (Advanced Seminars and Shorter Thesis)
Master of Cinema Management
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Cultural Material Conservation)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Art History
Art History
Art History

Download PDF version.