4.609 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

The Art Museum: History, Theory, Controversy


[Duncan] = Duncan, Carol. Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums. Routledge, 1995. ISBN: 9780415070126. [Preview with Google Books]

[McClellan] = McClellan, Andrew. Art Museum from Boullee to Bilbao. University of California Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780520251267.

[Preziosi and Farago] Grasping the World:The Idea of the Museum. Edited by Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago. Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2004. ISBN: 9780754608356.

[Rothfield] = Unsettling Sensation: Arts–Policy Lessons from the Brooklyn Museum of Art Controversy. Edited by Lawrence Rothfield. Rutgers University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780813529356.

1 Introduction  
2 Museum, Nation, Citizen

McClellan, Andrew. “The Revolutionary Louvre.” In Inventing the Louvre: Art, Politics and the Origins of the Modern Museum in Eighteenth Century Paris. Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 91–123. ISBN: 9780520221765. [Preview with Google Books]

Thakurta, Tapati Guha. “The Demands of Independence: From a National Exhibition to a National Museum.” In Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India. Permanent Black, 2004, pp. 175–204. ISBN: 9780231129985.

[Duncan] “Introduction,” “The Art Museum as Ritual,” and “Public Spaces, Private Interests.” pp. 1–47 and 135–45.

[McClellan] “Ideals and Mission” and “The Public.” pp. 13–52 and 155–92.

3 Guest Lecture: Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. Tea with Nefertiti, or How the Arts Shape Culture

Bardaouil, Sam, and Till Fellrath. Tea with Nefertiti: The Making of the Artwork by the Artist, the Museum and the Public (PDF). Exhibition catalogue, Doha, 2012.

Esposito, Alana. “A Cultural Icon Tells Her Own Story,” New York Times, 5 December, 2012.

ArtAsiaPacific: Interview With Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath (PDF), 4 December, 2012.

4 The Museum as Arbiter: Episodes in Exhibition History

Kuenzli, Katherine. “The Birth of the Modernist Art Museum: The Folkwang as Gesamtkunstwerk.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 72 (2013): 503–29.

Wallach, Alan. “The American Cast Museum: An Episode in the History of the Institutional Definition of Art.” In Exhibiting Contradiction: Essays on the Art Museum in the United States. University of Massachusetts Press, 1998, pp. 38–56. ISBN: 9781558491182. [Preview with Google Books]

Wilson, Fred. “Mining the Museum: Artists Look at Museums, Museums Look at Themselves.” In Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson. Edited by Lisa Corrin. New Press, 1994, pp. 1–22. ISBN: 9781565841086.

[Duncan] “The Modern Art Museum: It’s a Man’s World.” pp. 102–32.

[McClellan] “Collecting, Classification, and Display.” pp. 107–54.


Destination Museum: The Bilbao Effect, with particular emphasis on the exhibitions Primitivism in 20th Century Art, 1984, Magiciens de la Terre, 1989, and the new Quai Branly museum by Jean Nouvel, 2006

Fraser, Andrea. “Isn’t This a Wonderful Place? (A Tour of the Guggenheim Bilbao).” In Museum Frictions: Public Cultures / Global Transformations. Edited by Ivan Karp, et al. Duke University Press, 2006, pp. 135–60. ISBN: 9780822338949. [Preview with Google Books]

McClellan, Andrew. “Museum Expansion in the Twenty-First Century: Abu Dhabi.” Journal of Curatorial Studies 1, no. 3 (2012): 271–93.

[McClellan] “Architecture.” pp. 53–106.

Browse: Saddiyat.

6 Western Museums and the Rest of the World: The “Primitive” and the Global International

McEvilley, Thomas. “Doctor Lawyer, Indian Chief (1984).” In Primitivism and Twentieth–Century Art–A Documentary History. Edited by Jack Flam. University of California Press, 2003, pp. 335–50. ISBN: 9780520215030. [Preview with Google Books]

[Preziosi and Farago] Clifford, James. “Histories of the Tribal and the Modern (1985).” pp. 636–62.

Altshuler, Bruce. “1989: Magiciens de la Terre.” In Biennials and Beyond : Exhibitions that Made Art History, 1962–2002. Edited by Bruce Altshuler. Phaidon Press, 2013, pp. 281–94. ISBN: 9781409954828.

Clifford, James. “Quai Branly in Process.” Mit Press Journals, no. 120 (2007): 3–23.

Kimmelman, Michael. “A Heart of Darkness in the City of Light,” New York Times, July 2, 2006.

[Preziosi and Farago] Araeen, Rasheed. “From Primitivism to Ethnic Arts.” pp. 663–85.

Browse the exhibition catalogue

7 The Artist as Curator: A Discussion with Arlene Shechet on Meissen Recast

Arlene Shechet: Meissen Recast

Arlene Shechet

As told to Dawn Chan

Claytime! Ceramics Finds Its Place in the Art-World Mainstream

8 Looting and Restitution, or, the Universal Museum Reconsidered

Quatremère de Quincy, C. “Extracts from Letters to General Miranda 1796.” In Witnesses to History: A Compendium of Documents and Writings on the Return of Cultural Objects. Edited by Lyndel V. Prott. United Nations Educational, 2009, pp. 19–25. ISBN: 9789231041280. [Preview with Google Books]

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?” In Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. W. W. Norton, 2006, pp. 115–35. ISBN: 9780393061550.

Singh, Kavita. “The Universal Museum: View from Below.” In Witnesses to History: A Compendium of Documents and Writings on the Return of Cultural Objects. Edited by Lyndel V. Prott. United Nations Educational, 2009, pp. 123–29. ISBN: 9789231041280. [Preview with Google Books]

Wood, Paul. “Display, Restitution and World Art History: The Case of the ‘Benin Bronzes.’” Visual Culture in Britain 13, no. 1 (2012): 115–37.

[McClellan] “Restitution and Repatriation.” pp. 233–68.
Appendix: “Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums” (PDF) pp. 275–6, 2002.

9 The Private Museum

The Old and the New:

[Duncan] “Something Eternal: The Donor Memorial.” pp. 72–101.

Chong, Alan. “Mrs. Gardner’s Museum of Myth.” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, 52: Fall 2007. Peabody Museum Press, 2008, pp. 212–20. ISBN: 9780873657907. [Preview with Google Books]

Additional reading TBA (at request of the curator):

Smee, Sebastian. “What Fate for the Carriage House that Mrs. Jack built?Boston Globe, May 2009.

Smee, Sebastian. “Mystery Achievement,” and browse additional selections from “The Gardner Grows.” Boston Globe, January 2012, special issue on the Gardner expansion Browse: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

10 Beyond the Nation: The Americas Galleries at the MFA

Director’s Forward and Davis, Bostwick, et al. “A New World Imagined: Artistic Innovation and Inspiration in the Americas.” In A New World Imagined: Art of the Americas. MFA Publications, 2010. ISBN: 9780878467600. [Skim rest of book]

Cotter, Holland. “Seating all the Americas at the Same Table,” New York Times, November 18, 2010.

The MFA Takes Wing.” Boston Globe, November 2010, special issue on the MFA expansion.

11 Lightning Talks No readings.
12 Museums and Money

[Preziosi and Farago] Haacke, Hans. “Museums, Managers of Consciousness (1987).” pp. 400–12.

Wallis, Brian. “The Art of Big Business.” Art in America, June 1986, 28–33.

[Rothfield] “The Brooklyn Controversy: A View from the Bridge.” pp. 1–11.

[Rothfield] Cuno, James. “‘Sensation’ and the Ethics of Funding Exhibitions.” pp. 162–70.

[McClellan] “Commercialism.” pp. 193–232.

Browse the exhibition catalogue: Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, 1998.

13 Sneak Preview of new Harvard University Art Museums with Elizabeth Rudy, Theodore Rousseau Assistant Curator of European Paintings No readings.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples