Art History and Museum Studies

... the Enlightenment invention of the modern museum was an event as profound and far-reaching in its implications as the articulation of central-point perspective several centuries earlier...

Donald Preziosi, 2009 (1998), The Art of Art History. A Critical Anthology. Oxford: Oxford UP. p.490

Art can be defined as the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects such as painting and sculpture, which are appreciated for their beauty and emotional power.

Art History at University College encourages both an appreciation of art and its academic study. Key works of art, which are important both aesthetically and for their place in the history of art, are studied through different approaches. Art History investigates how painting, sculpture, architecture, industrial design and photography exemplify the ways humans have found for portraying, decorating, and designing the world, across the centuries. Shared methodologies form the basis for understanding art and engaging in scholarly debate. Learning how to look at the world in these ways, Art History contributes to a Liberal Arts and Sciences education.

The second thread of Art History is Museum Studies which focuses on the display and management of art and other collections in the public museum context. We approach key cases, from the Enlightenment to the present, through methodologies and concepts that enable an understanding of this crucial institution of modernity. Tracing the historical monument, from prehistory through Classical Antiquity, to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to the Enlightenment; in the subsequent debates of Romanticism, in 20th-century urban planning and heritage situates the public museum in broader transnational contexts.

One place to which the two threads of the track can be traced back is the 17th-century kunstkammer and the systematic visual representation it tried to create. Printed images of the kunstkammer situate the beholder in an idealized position, commanding a central perspective over the room and its ordered collection. Modern image technology positions the museum and its contents within an array of visual regimes – through photography, film, and digital media. Art History adds a vital perspective and content to many fields, which often converge through the spaces of the museum. 

UCU Cultural Heritage Programme (CHIP)

Students have the opportunity to participate in CHIP. The UCU Cultural Heritage Program (CHIP) entails learning about heritage from the various perspectives
of the arts, the social sciences and the sciences. As part of this program students can do an internship at a Dutch museum (for example the Van Gogh museum) or a museum in the UK (for example the British Museum). It enables students, while still undergraduates, to gain experience of and contribute to the crucial practices of managing, preserving, researching, and exhibiting cultural heritage.

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