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Course Description

In the first decade of the twentieth century, two new neighboring institutions in Boston’s Back Bay — the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—charted alternative visions of what an art museum might be and do. Oppositional strategies accentuated differences and tensions between public and private modes of exhibition and reception, collecting criteria and governance to offer generative examples, as well as foils, for later collectors and curators. Case studies and comparative analysis of these rivals on the Fenway yields fundamental insights into the essence, evolution, and current predicaments, of the American art museum as we know it today. Special themes include: art and interior decoration of the Aesthetic Movement in America; collecting Asian art; women as art patrons in the Gilded Age; origins of museum curating and museum education; Bernard Berenson and connoisseurship; museum gardens; philanthropy; private art museums, past and present. Field trips to both museums. Some art history background strongly recommended.

This is an in-person course that follows the published schedule of course meetings and requires attendance at all sessions. Tufts courses are designed to provide high-quality and interactive courses to Tufts and visiting students. For more information about course policies and expectations, please visit 

Basic Enrollment Requirements: Unofficial Transcript - Bachelor's + 3.0 GPA.

Refund Policy: The refund policy for Courses at Tufts offerings is dependent on the offering type: whether the offering is a course, workshop or short course, or in-demand offering. Please refer to the section details to confirm the type of offering as well as any exceptions to the standard refund policy. The refund policies for each offering type are viewable here:

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences