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Then and Now: Displaying the Renaissance

Module Description
The course addresses the significance of setting, context and audience for Renaissance works of art – both today and in the past. In recent years, museum and exhibition curators have become increasingly exercised by displaying Renaissance objects and works of art in ways that echo practices of display that can be reconstructed within the Renaissance period (vis-à-vis lighting, eye-level, ensembles of objects and material that echo documented groupings). This is perhaps the single most fraught issue within current curatorial practice. Students on this course will consider the evidence for display within the historical period, and how modern museum practice seeks to evoke or copy arrangements that have been reconstructed through academic research. The ethics of reconstructing lost spaces and fragmentary originals will be analysed, together with the challenges modern displays pose to traditional divisions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ or ‘decorative’ art. Students will have contact with curators who have engaged with these problems when designing museum or exhibition displays.
Sample Syllabus (subject to change)
Domestic contexts
Devotional and secred contexts
The scholar's study and origins of the museum
Pre ninteenth century collectors
The formation of national collections
Displaying in the twentieth century
Displaying domesticity in the modern museum
Displaying sacred space in the modern museum
Displaying architecture in the modern museum