Archaeology, Museums and the Public


Course Objective

Students who will have successfully completed this course will:
1. Have acquired an in-depth understanding of the various roles of
material remains with regards to the perceptions about the past by wider
2. Have developed a clear insight in the past practices and future
challenges of museum collecting.
3. Have a clear view on the roles of institutions and stakeholders
in the ways the material past is presented.
4. Have acquired expert knowledge about the challenges of modern
theories, trends and (digital) methodologies for archaeological
5. Have developed skills to make, assess and evaluate material
and/or digital presentations about the past.

Course Content

For centuries, archaeological collections have served to present the
past. Archaeological museums reconstruct and visualize national, local
and regional histories, or, alternatively, display material heritage
from different parts of the world. Archaeological collecting is
increasingly subject to changing regulations and (legal) restrictions.
Moreover, there are new ideas about the ways in which people perceive
and identify with the past. Also, we see an enormous influence of ICT on
museum collecting, registration and presentation. As a result, the role
of archaeological museums in collecting and presenting the material past
is increasingly problematic and currently a hot issue in academic and
professional debates.
This course will be about the relations between changing practices of
archaeological collecting and the ways in which the past is presented to
wider audiences. We will address the challenges posed to archaeological
museums in the modern world by looking at the intricate interplay
between material remains (archaeological artefacts, collections), people
(collectors, curators and a differentiated public), techniques (ICT) and
institutions (museums, universities). The collections and presentations
of the Allard Pierson Museum will be used actively during the course.

Teaching Methods

The course will have two sessions a week over a period of six weeks: a
lecture session at the beginning of the week and a seminar.
The lecture classes will have a theoretical and reflective character.
After an introductory class, the lectures will cover the history and
changing practice of collecting, the role of material remains in the
perceptions of the past and the challenges for archaeological museums.
The seminar sessions will have a practical character and will take place
in the Allard Pierson Museum. Students will actively interact with
museum’s collections and exhibitions. The exhibition Keys to Rome will
be used as a case study. Students will explore the various ways in which
archaeological collections are constituted and will be supervised in
creating archaeological exhibitions and visualizations. Presence to all
seminars is compulsory.
Contact hours: Total 4 hours: 2 hours lecture class; 2 hours seminar

Method of Assessment

The course will be assessed by a written exam on the lecture classes and
the associated literature from the electronic reader. The exam will
constitute 40% of the final grade. In case the exam is not passed, a re-
sit for the exam will be possible at the end of the semester
The seminar part of the course will be assessed by a practical
assignment in small groups (2-3 people). The grade for the assignment is
60% of the final grade. Individual grades will be given for the group
assignment, based on the final output, a short overview of each
participant’s contribution and the participation in the seminars. In
case the assignment is not graded as sufficient, an (individual) new
assignment must be chosen and re-submitted before the end of the
Both the exam and the practical assignment must be graded as sufficient
in order to pass the course successfully.


Compulsory literature will be made available through an electronic
reader on Canvas.

Target Audience

Accessible for MA students in all Archaeology programs, Classics and
Ancient Civilizations, Museum Studies, Heritage Studies and Art History

Custom Course Registration

This module is taught at the UvA by dr. G.J.M. van Wijngaarden (UvA) and dr. P.S. Lulof (UvA) (UvA subject code 140412206Y). Module registration with a UvaNetID at the UvA is required. Please note that course registration periods at the UvA and VU differ. For a ‘step-by-step guide to course and exam registration’ and the ‘dates for course and exam registration’ please consult the ‘course and exam registration’-page via the ‘A-Z list’ of your MA programme on

General Information

Course Code L_AAMAARC011
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. G.J.M. van Wijngaarden
Teaching Staff
dr. G.J.M. van Wijngaarden

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: