MUSEUMS 401 - Contemporary Issues in Museums
Section: 001 The Ethical Museum in Global Context
Term: WN 2010
Subject: Museums (MUSEUMS)
Department: LSA History of Art
With permission of instructor.
Enforced Prerequisites:
MUSEUMS 301 or MSP 601.
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:

Shifts in perceptions of social responsibility and a rapidly changing global environment have recently been presenting curators and scholars with a number of unprecedented challenges. In this course, these challenges will be examined from a variety of vantage points in order to understand why they have attained particular resonance today and why many practices and conceptions that once seemed self-evident now seem questionable and/or unsustainable.

The course will emphasize in-depth study of cases that illuminate not only the rise of ethical concerns for museum practitioners and scholars, but also the growing need to think about museums in global terms. Special attention will be paid to situations in which museum traditions and historical contingency can give rise to competing ethical arguments. As such, the course will develop a nuanced historical and theoretical framework for thinking about museums today. In the process, the course will also consider whether recent developments demand rethinking of accepted views of museum history and museums’ cultural, economic and political functions.

Topics likely to include:

  • looted art/artifacts and demands of return/repatriation (from Napoleon and Elgin to the Nazis and beyond);
  • the ethics of global bodily procurement, display, and profit (Body Worlds and its supporting institutions);
  • defining and serving plural audiences: new responsibilities, new missions?;
  • the rise of the memorial museum;
  • paying the bills, selling out — sponsorship and deaccessioning in global context.

MUSEUMS 401 - Contemporary Issues in Museums
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
M 3:00PM - 6:00PM
002 (SEM)
Th 3:00PM - 6:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for MUSEUMS 401 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)