AH40510 Museums & Modernity

Academic Year 2022/2023

The module examines the relationship between the museum and modernity with particular emphasis on the connection between the art gallery and modernism. The relationship between imperialism and the development of the collections and displays of museums in the 19th century is addressed. The module explores the development of the museum of modern art from the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris in the early 19th century to the establishment of the Tate Modern in 2000. The role of such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York in creating the canon of modernist art is assessed. Irish institutions such as the Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane and IMMA are placed within the international context of the gallery of modern art. The emphasis on individual collectors and artists in the development of displays of modern art is considered. The course analyses how modernist and post-modernist artists have engaged with the power of the museum and challenged its authority. It interprets key concepts such as the White Cube, Institutional Critique and Liminality. The module includes field trips to museums and galleries in Dublin.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

• Be conversant with the development of the museum of modern art from the early 19th century to the present.
• Have a critical understanding of how the art museum reflects wider social and cultural imperatives in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
• Be able to distinguish and explain the difference the modern and the post-modern museum.
• Be able to assess the relationship between the museum, the nation state and the city.
• Understand why and how artists have challenged the authority of the museum.

Indicative Module Content:

Museums of contemporary art in 19th century: Musée du Luxembourg
Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art
The Curatorial and Collection Policies of MOMA, New York.
Museums and colonialism - Dublin's Museum Quarter
The Post-modernist/Contemporary Art Museum
IMMA - its history and rationale

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and learning is based on small group teaching - lectures, discussions and presentations and in site visits to museums and galleries. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Participation in classes throughout the semester. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 3000 word essay Week 12 n/a Graded Yes


Presentation: Presentation on prescribed topic - 20 minutes. Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on presentation will be given individually during the semester, post-assessment. Feedback on end of term essay will be after examination process.

Name Role
Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty Lecturer / Co-Lecturer