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Museum Experiments


Module description

Museums are changing: this module focuses on activist, online, mobile, crowd-sourced and otherwise experimental museums that are operating in the contemporary public sphere. We will investigate why they were established, the forms that they take, the subjects they address and how they bring conventional concepts of a museum into question. Classes will focus on individual organisations including the Museum of Homelessness, the Museum of Transology, Denis Severs House and the Museum of Ordinary People to examine the importance of authentic objects, of neutrality and of objectivity for museums. We will consider the necessity for museums to have a physical site or a boundary, or to exist in the long term.

You will be expected to make independent museum visits both before and during the module. Class discussion will build on your observations.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introduction
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology
  • Online museums
  • Activist and protest museums
  • Crowd-sourced museums
  • Pop-up, mobile and outreach museums
  • Fictional narratives
  • Models and replicas
  • Empty and eco museums
  • Concepts of experimentation

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will have:

  • an enhanced understanding of how and why experimental museums are established, and by whom
  • an expansive conception of museum practice
  • critically reviewed the methodologies for studying museums
  • engaged constructively in current debates concerning the discipline and its changing nature
  • a more detailed knowledge of specific museums
  • a critical perspective on appropriate methodologies
  • developed a reflective approach to museum visiting
  • developed the ability to analyse digital and material museum site.