MUSEUM 7002 - The Secret Life of Objects: Museums in Practice

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2022

This course focuses on the life of objects as they move into, through and, sometimes, out of cultural institutions. It explores the complex histories of how objects have been acquired by museums and art galleries and how they continue to be managed, conserved and displayed by different institutions. Providing unprecedented access to local museums and the professionals who manage objects throughout their journeys, this course addresses key practical skills in museum practice including conservation, collection management, significance assessment and curation. Harnessing the diverse expertise of museum staff, scholars and heritage specialists, students will explore the broader principles, politics and ethics of contemporary custodianship.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MUSEUM 7002
    Course The Secret Life of Objects: Museums in Practice
    Coordinating Unit School of Humanities
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Course Description This course focuses on the life of objects as they move into, through and, sometimes, out of cultural institutions. It explores the complex histories of how objects have been acquired by museums and art galleries and how they continue to be managed, conserved and displayed by different institutions. Providing unprecedented access to local museums and the professionals who manage objects throughout their journeys, this course addresses key practical skills in museum practice including conservation, collection management, significance assessment and curation. Harnessing the diverse expertise of museum staff, scholars and heritage specialists, students will explore the broader principles, politics and ethics of contemporary custodianship.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: John Carty

    Associate Professor Sally K. May
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Mondays 10am-1pm
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Demonstrate an understanding of the history of collecting in museums and art galleries
    2. Demonstrate an understanding of current best practices in the acquisition, cataloguing and processing of objects into collections
    3. Show an understanding of a range of intercultural issues concerning care, storage and display of objects and artworks
    4. Show an awareness of the specific conservation issues around different materials as stored and displayed in museums and galleries
    5. Show an understanding of the range of professional skills and proficiencies required to move objects and artworks into collections, how to care for them there, and how to share them in public-facing experiences. 
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1,2, 4

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    4

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    2,4

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    5

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    2, 3

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.

    3

    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    2, 5

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    3
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Relevant texts for class discussion will be available via Course Readings.
    Recommended Resources
    Readings will be made available via Course Readings.
    Online Learning
    Where possible lectures will be recorded and made available via MyUni.

    The classes will regularly involve hands-on activities and visits to museums/galleries and, as such, recordings will not be available.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is taught via a 3 hour session. Most weeks will be a 1 hour lecture immediately followed by a 2 hour workshop. Workshops will be highly interactive. They will focus on a range of key museum concepts and practices that are introduced via the lectures, online content and weekly readings. Practical engagement with cultural institutions is a key part of this course, so lectures and workshops will often take place off campus at the nearby South Australian Museum and other cultural institutions.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.


    Directed learning
    1. 3 hour session usually in the form of a 1 hour lecture followed by a 2 hour workshop.
    2. Up to 1 hour of online activities per week

    Self-directed learning
    1. Up to 8 hours of reading per week
    2. Up to 7 hours of assignment preparation per week
    3. Up to 7 hours of research per week
    Learning Activities Summary
    The core teaching in the course will take place in the weekly seminars. Classes will generally begin with a 1 hour lecture followed by a 2 hour practical (hands-on workshop or visit to museum/gallery). There will be a range of themes covered in seminars and a schedule for each class will be made available via MyUni. Students are expected to attend the classes in person. Topics include:

    Histories of collecting
    Assessing the significance of collections and objects
    Conservation
    Collection management
    Curating exhibitions
    Repatriation

    In addtion to the readings, a range of online materials will be made available for seminar preparation.
    Specific Course Requirements
    In order to complete the course students will have had to have attended and participated in 80% of the seminars.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Significance Assesment of an artwork or object

    Late Semester

    60% 1-4
    Online Activities ongoing  30% 1-4
    Presentation to be scheduled during semester 10% 1-4
    Assessment Related Requirements
    In order to achieve the learning outcomes it is essential to attend and participate in the seminars. For this reason, attendance and participation comprise hurdle requirements for this course. Students are required to attend 80% of the seminars. Frequent absences, other than those on (documented) medical or compassionate grounds, are unacceptable.

    No work will be accepted in lieu of seminar attendance and participation.
    Assessment Detail

    Significance Assesment of an artwork or object 60%
    Learning outcomes: 1-4

    Online Activities 30%
    Learning outcomes: 1-4

    Class presentation 10%
    Learning outcomes: 1-4

    Further information on assignments will be available via MyUni. 
    Submission
    All assignments to be submitted electronically via MyUni.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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