Course Description

“The Narrative vehicle of the museum is particularly powerful because of its multi-dimensionality. Whereas storytelling in literature is determined and confined by the linear arrangement of text on a page; in cinema to visual images on a screen; and in traditional theater to the static audience with its singular perspective, the museum represents a fully embodied experience of objects and media in three-dimensional space, unfolding in a potentially free-flowing temporal experience.”

– Laura Hourston Hanks, Jonathan Hale & Suzanne Macleod in Museum Making (2012)

This course will focus on the complex relationship between architectural space and exhibit curation in museums through critical reading, museum site visits, and most-importantly, through hands-on creation of virtual exhibits for online delivery. Course texts will include selected articles bound in the 2014 book Museum Making: Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions, (Routledge 2012, Edited by MacLeod, Hanks & Hale) as well as additional sources published in a variety of media. No specific technical skills will be required, but there will be an emphasis on learning how to create 3D virtual environments as part of a final collaborative project.

Students will learn the components of exhibition narrative by digitizing objects from the University of Virginia’s special collections. When these digital objects are exhibited within a virtual space that has an infinitely elastic scale, students will be challenged to make spatial, temporal and textual choices that will best communicate their intended narrative. Finally, students will document their progress through the course in six short blog posts.

The art objects that will provide the subject of our exhibitions this semester will be Chinese seals held within the special collections library. These seals have been catalogued, but they have never been exhibited online until now. Each student will curate their exhibit by choosing seals from among a pre-selected subset of the 300+ object collection that will allow them to tell a particular story. This story can be historical, biographical, aesthetic, material, or iconographical. The final project will be a virtual museum containing galleries for each student that will be connected to each other in a single architectural space.

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