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Journeys, Histories & Methods of Display - HOA00092I

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Ana Bilbao Yarto
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

From the cabinet of curiosities, through the question of online curating, and ending with current debates on decolonising the museum, this module will offer students a journey through histories of display.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Beginning with issues raised by the cabinet of curiosities, passing through the question of online curating, and ending with current debates on decolonising the museum, this module will offer students a journey through histories of display. Given that collecting and curating have always been responsive to the conceptions of art and artistic practices of their time and location, we will analyse how this responsiveness has been reflected in the development of the different kinds of spaces for display, including various types of museums and exhibitions of differing scales.

Through seminar discussions, in this module, we will explore a variety of case studies and critically engage with texts that provide insights into different approaches and methods of curating. Students will be able to identify paradigm shifts in collecting, curating, and exhibiting in the West and will have the opportunity to explore histories and formats of display developed in non-Western contexts.

The module will develop a greater understanding of a variety of methods of display across different periods, from the cabinet of curiosities to the present where students will gain awareness of the strong links between artistic practice and the emergence and development of various display methods. It will introduce students to different types of cultural institution and expose students to curating on different scales (from online to large-scale curating).

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, the student should have the following:

  • A firm grasp of the history of exhibition-making in Western and non-Western contexts;

  • Knowledge of the history and development of diverse art institutions;

  • Familiarity with the historical interdependency of collecting, archiving, and curating;

  • An understanding of the concept of ‘exhibition’ in its expanded sense;

  • The ability to challenge the canons of art history and its presuppositions;

  • The ability to critically engage with current debates in curatorial theory and practice;

  • The confidence to subject the texts studied to interpretation and critical analysis;

  • Excellent bibliographical and practical research skills.


Task Length % of module mark
Intermediate Assignment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Intermediate Assignment
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on assessed work within the timeframes set out by the University - please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

The purpose of feedback is to help you to improve your future work. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further, you are warmly encouraged to meet your Supervisor during their Office Hours.

Indicative reading

  • Abt, Jeffrey. “The Origins of the Public Museum.” In Companion to Museum Studies. Edited by Sharon Macdonald. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

  • Auerbach, Jeffrey A. The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

  • Barron,Stephanie. “1937: Modern Art and Politics in Prewar Germany.” In ‘Degenerate Art’: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. Edited by Stephanie Barron. Los Angeles: LACMA, 1991.

  • Baudelaire, Charles. Art in Paris, 1845-1862: Salons and Other Exhibitions. London: Phaidon, 1981.

  • Carrier, David. "The Display of Art: An Historical Perspective." Leonardo (Oxford) 20, no. 1 (1987): 83-86.

  • Cocotle, Brenda Caro. “We Promise to Decolonise the Museum: A Critical View of Contemporary Museum Policies.” Afterall Online. January 7, 2019.

  • Filipovic, Elena. “The Global White Cube.” In The Manifesta Decade: Debates on Contemporary Art Exhibitions and Biennials in Post-Wall Europe. Edited by Barbara Vanderlinden and Elena Filipovic, 63-80. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

  • Graham, Beryl and Sarah Cook. “Introduction.” In Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010.

  • Impey, Oliver and Arthur MacGregor. The Origins of Museums: the Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

  • Jolles, Adam. “Artist into Curators: Dada and Surrealist Exhibition Practices.” In A Companion to Surrealism. Edited by David Hopkins. Wiley Blackwell, 2016.

  • Klonk, Charlotte. Spaces of Experience: Art Gallery Interiors from 1800 to 2000. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

  • López, Miguel A. “Redrawing Global Aspirations of Exhibition-Making from a Southern Perspective: Latin American Biennial of São Paulo (1978) and Coloquio de Arte No-Objectual (1981).” In The Curatorial Conundrum. Edited by Paul O’Neill, Mick Wilson and Lucy Steeds, 73-84. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2016.

  • Martin, Lee-Ann. “Anger and Reconciliation: A Very Brief History of Exhibiting Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.” Afterall 43 (Spring/Summer 2017): 108-115.

  • Marchart, Oliver. “The Globalization of Art and the ‘Biennials of Resistance’: A History of the Biennials from the Periphery”, World Art 4, no. 2 (2014): 263-276.

  • Meijers, Debora J. “The Museum and the ‘Ahistorical’ Exhibition.” In Thinking About Exhibitions. Edited by Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W. Ferguson, and Sandy Nairne, 7-18. New York: Routledge, 1996.

  • Mignolo, Walter D. “Coloniality is Far from Over, and So Must Be Decoloniality.” Afterall 43 (Spring/Summer 2017): 38-45.

  • Santos, Paula Assunção dos. “To Understand New Museology in the XXI Century.” In Sociomuseology III: To Understand New Museology in the XXI Century. Edited by Paula Assunção dos Santos and Judite Primo, 5-10. Lisbon: Museology Department ULHT, 2013.

  • Staniszewski, Mary Anne. “Grand Illusions: The ‘New’ Museum of Modern Art.” In Curating Subjects. Edited by Paul O’Neill. London: Open Editions, 2007.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.