2018 Special Lecture: Thinking and learning through museums

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Academic unit or major
Humanities and social science courses
Bektas Yakup 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
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Syllabus updated
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Course description and aims

Thinking and learning through museums:
Museums are keepers and interpreters of the cultural treasures of the world. Flourishing in number and capacity now as never before, they have evolved into highly diverse forms, yet they always present themselves as centers of aesthetic enjoyment, intellectual stimulation, and learning, in some form. This new course (still a work-in-progress) hopes to make them the subject, source, and actual location of a uniquely direct thinking and learning experience. It aims to explore not only how museums display and tell the story of art, science and technology through material artifacts, but also reciprocally, how visitors learn from the stories of objects and artifacts on display. It encourages students to get to know museums and galleries of all forms and sizes, to view and evaluate comprehensive and individual artworks, artifacts, and specimen, and then discuss their impressions in the class and write short reviews.

Student learning outcomes

Getting to know about museums and galleries and to recognize them as cultural assets; and to learn from what they put on display. Developing the ability to appreciate and interpret museum displays and artifacts from diverse perspectives.


Museums, museology, museum studies, museums and culture, displaying science and technology, museums and nationalism, museums and teaching

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Conducted in a seminar format except the first couple of classes. Students individually or in groups or in class visit a museum, and view its exhibitions. In the class they introduce these museums and exhibits and discuss the ideas behind them and how well they are designed, organized and presented. They may take a single object or artifact, and relate its history and meanings as revealed or not by the labels and context. (The museums can be limited, for example, to those of science and technology in Tokyo, such as Titech, Ueno (The National Museum of Science and Nature), Tepco, Miraikan; or there may be no limitation depending on students’ interests and convenience. Some class sessions may be held in in museums.)

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 The idea of museum in history: treasures natural and artificial, glory, power, and prestige; imperialism and nationalism; popular education and moral uplift None
Class 2 Displaying art, culture, science and technology, and history at the world’s major museums (British Museum, London Science, Smithsonian, Louvre, Deutsches Museum) None (or be determined later)
Class 3 Museums in Japan; The Shōsō-in at Nara: the world’s oldest curated collection Selected Museum-Exhibitions (view)
Class 4 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Discussion Selected Museum-Exhibitions (view)
Class 5 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Discussion Selected Museum-Exhibitions (view)
Class 6 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Discussion Selected Museum-Exhibitions (view)
Class 7 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Discussion Selected Museum-Exhibitions (view)
Class 8 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Discussion Selected Museum-Exhibitions (view)



Reference books, course materials, etc.

Recommended List: Will be completed later

Assessment criteria and methods

Based on attendance, class performance, and writing assignments (short essays): roughly %80 for attendance and performance, and %20 for writing assignments

Related courses

  • Be determined later

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)


Office hours

One hour after every class. Other times by appointment by email or call.

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