Course: Collecting the World in Rome

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Rome is home to almost one hundred museums and countless collections from the four corners of the worlds. How did these collections of ethnographical, natural and archaeological objects come about and what do they reveal about Rome’s and Italy’s engagement with the expanding world, its colonies in Africa, and the ‘New’ World after 1492? In what way were collections less standard than those of painting and sculpture presented, to which public and with what aims? And what is the current museum practice? How are objects kept and displayed in the city’s museums, exhibitions and galleries? What are the challenges faced by curators in making use of these collections and how can they engage in current debates?

This course aims at exploring the cultural and historic richness of Roman museums with world collections by means of lectures, museum visits and assignments, and guest lectures by researchers, experts and museum staff. It will also take a practical viewpoint on collecting and display, thus allowing students to engage in the world of museums and heritage. Taking a combined diachronic and synchronic approach, the course discusses topics such as the history of colonialism and collections, early modern Kunstkammer, missionary collecting, Rome’s changing museum landscape, and how these critical topics connect to contemporary exhibition and curatorial practices.

Museums to be visited include (among others) the Vatican Museums and the Sapienza Museum Network, Museo Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Museo Civico di Zoologia, Rome’s Botanical Gardens, and a day excursion outside Rome.

Dr. Mariana Françozo (Leiden University)
Dr. Annemarieke Willemsen (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden/KNIR)
Guest lecturer Dr. Laura Overpelt (KNIR)
Guest lecturer Dr. Maria Urban (KNIR)

Dr. Laura Overpelt (KNIR)

Assessment and Grading
All assessment and grading will be done via Moodle. The assessment is comprised of:
– Individual ‘practical’ assignment (20% of final grade)
– Presentation in pairs (30% of final grade)
– Final paper: exhibition plan (50% of final grade)

Target group and entry requirements
The course welcomes PhD, RMA, and MA students.

The study load is the equivalent of 6 ECTS (168 hours), based on an intensive course in Rome with lectures, discussions, and museum/site visits; practical assignments at museums; and a final written assignment.


Participating students will receive free tuition, excursions (including most entry fees for museums and archaeological sites), and accommodation in Rome. After successful completion of the final assignment, travel costs will be reimbursed up to €100,- for students (or €125,- in case you make the complete trip by train), enrolled in one of our NWIB partner universities.

Application and admission
Please submit a CV, grade transcript, and letter of motivation. Please note that the decision of the selection committee is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

20 September 2024

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621


Photo header: Showcase at the Basilica Santi Cosma e Damiano, Rome (© M. Françozo)
Photo tile: Showcase at the Museo Civico di Zoologia (© M. Françozo)

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