History and Philosophy of Museums

Subject AHIS90005 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

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

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2
Total Time Commitment:



Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in art history, Master of Art Curatorship, Master of Cinema Management, Master of Arts & Cultural Management (Moving Image), Master of Arts in Art History (Advanced Seminar and Shorter Thesis).



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Alison Inglis


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.

Learning Outcomes:
  • 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.

A 2000 word exercise 40% (due during the semester), a 3000 word research essay 50% (due in the examination period), and 10% participation. Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% (or 10 out of 12) classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Any student who fails to meet this hurdle without valid reason will not be eligible to pass the subject. All required written work must be submitted in order to pass the subject. Essays submitted after the due date without an extension will be penalised 2% per day. Essays submitted after two weeks of the assessment due date without a formally approved application for special consideration or an extension will only be marked on a pass/fail basis if accepted.

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 Arts in Art History (Advanced Seminars and Shorter Thesis)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Management
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Art Curatorship
100 Point Master of Arts and Cultural Management
100 Point Moving Image
150 Point Master of Art Curatorship (Coursework and Minor Thesis)
150 Point Moving Image
200 Point Master of Art Curatorship (Coursework and Minor Thesis)
200 Point Master of Arts and Cultural Management
200 Point Moving Image
Art History
Art History
Art History
Art History

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