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Art and Its Institutions - HOA00095I

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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: 2023-24
    • See module specification for other years: 2024-25

Module summary

This module examines how art operates in a range of institutions, both within and beyond the heritage sector.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

This module focuses on how art circulates within and beyond the world of heritage and culture. By actively engaging with institutions that shape, regulate, and often constrain our everyday behaviour, we will analyse how art is understood, employed, and valued in multiple societal contexts. We will learn first-hand from key actors and practitioners whose public roles entail dealing with art in one way or another. Contributors to this course may include, but are not limited to, people working in religious institutions, police detectives, British Army Commanders, NHS staff, lawyers, or diplomats. Through lectures and Problem Based Learning (PBL) activities, students will gain insights into the skills required to tackle the real-life problems that our contributors encounter in their jobs.

Our module will be divided into four main thematic blocks, each on an issue of public interest, such as health, diplomacy, or law enforcement. Each theme will be explored through two lenses: how art circulates within, and outside, the art world. To this end, seminars will first examine artworks that address the central themes. Students will interrogate how works from different periods deal with public interest issues, and how they are presented to the public today. This will give insights into how artworks operate inside arts and heritage institutions, such as museums, galleries, or the art market. The seminars will be followed by PBL case studies, where students investigate practical problems concerning artworks in institutions beyond the traditional art world, such as churches, hospitals, or law enforcement.

Through this approach, this module shows how art historians and curators have much to contribute to institutions in and beyond the heritage sector.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should have acquired:

  • A practical understanding of the range of art historical practices which take place in and beyond the arts and heritage sectors

  • A greater awareness of the variety of career pathways art historians and curators can follow

  • Insights into how artworks operate within a variety of contexts

  • Practical skills to tackle art-related issues happening within and outside cultural institutions

  • The ability to work individually and as part of a team


Task Length % of module mark
Written Task
N/A 100

Special assessment rules




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

  • Baron, J H. “Art in Hospitals.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 89, no. 9 (1996): 482–83.
  • Berends, Jolien. Cultural Property Protection Makes Sense: A Way To Improve Your Mission. The Hague: CIMIC, 2020.
  • Clifton, James. “Truly a Worship Experience? Christian Art in Secular Museums.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 52, no. 52 (2007): 107-15.
  • Durney, Mark, and Blythe Proulx. “Art Crime: a Brief Introduction.” Crime, Law, and Social Change 56, no. 2 (September, 2011): 115–32.
  • Marshall, Christopher R. “From Altar to App: Displaying Devotion in the Contemporary Museum.” Journal of Curatorial Studies 4, no. 3 (October 2015): 458-76.
  • Miles, M F R. "Art in Hospitals: Does It Work? A Survey of Evaluation of Arts Projects in the NHS." Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 87, no. 3 (1994): 161–63.
  • Lankston, Louise, Pearce Cusack, Chris Fremantle, and Chris Isles. “Visual Art in Hospitals: Case Studies and Review of the Evidence.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 103, no. 12 (2010): 490–99.
  • O’Keefe, Roger, Camille Péron, Tofig Musayev, and Gianluca Ferrari. Protection of Cultural Property: Military Manual. Sanremo: UNESCO, 2016.
  • The National Archive. “Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act 2017.” UK Legislation. Accessed November 28, 2022.

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.