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Course Description

(Cross-listed with LAS 122) As museum collections have expanded so have their responsibilities, making of these institutions one of the premier disseminators of knowledge. In some instances, museum collections can reflect the values of collectors wanting to advance and secure both their economic and social interests, but not necessarily the interest of society at large. Some museums act as receptacles of social artifacts and artistic objects organized to display the historical development and notable artistic achievements of those cultures they exhibit.This course examines the constantly changing role of the museum and their complicated social, political and cultural agendas. The wide existence of museums worldwide (over 100,000 by some accounts) makes it clear, there is no single way to understand their complicated workings. However, students in this class will examine (through class lectures, discussions, assigned readings and museum visits) a variety of institutions and issues related their exhibiting and acquiring collections, to mine the ways museums operate in the twenty-first century.