Museums and Representations

-  Prof Kavita Singh

In the age of Enlightenment, modern ‘science,’ with its emphasis on observation and evidence, provided the first impetus for making the vast collections of objects, that eventually turned into museums. Since then, museums have become influential and authoritative institutions that have been central to the construction of many disciplines, not least of which is the history of art.

As the key site for the formation of art historical canons and the articulation of authorized heritage discourses, the institution of the museum has come under great scrutiny in recent decades. This course studies the museum as a site where objects, histories, knowledge systems and cultures are ordered and represented, and through which publics are constituted for the reception of these objects and knowledges.

Topics covered in this course will include the early history of museums and collecting; the uneasy relationship between empire, anthropology and theethnographicmuseum;museums,nationhood and decolonization; issues of heritage, cultural property and repatriation; the career of Indian art within the museum; museumising modernity; blockbuster exhibitions; museum architecture and starchitects; holocaust museums and the memorialization of trauma; and the global proliferation of the art museum form.