2023 Special Lecture: Thinking and learning through museums

Font size  SML

Register update notification mail Add to favorite lecture list
Academic unit or major
Humanities and social science courses
Bektas Yakup 
Class Format
Lecture    (Face-to-face)
Media-enhanced courses
Day/Period(Room No.)
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
Access Index

Course description and aims


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 course makes 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. The course will encourage students to get to know museums and galleries of all forms and sizes, to view and evaluate comprehensive exhibitions and individual artworks, artifacts, and specimens, and then discuss their impressions in the class and write short reviews.

Student learning outcomes

To become familiar with museums and galleries and to recognize them as cultural assets; and to learn from what they put on display. To develop the ability to appreciate, interpret and criticize museum displays and artifacts from diverse perspectives.

Course taught by instructors with work experience

Applicable How instructors' work experience benefits the course
Worked at the Smithsonian Institution (Museum of the American History) for several years. There, participated in courses and work on museums and exhibitions.


Museums, museology, museum studies, museums and culture, museums and artwork, 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 two or three 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. Presently (this year) no limitations. Will be explained briefly at the beginning of the first class. Some class sessions may be held 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; Enlightenment ideals; popular education and moral uplift None
Class 2 Displaying art, culture, science and technology; history at world’s major museums (British Museum, London Science, Smithsonian, Louvre, Deutsches Museum) None (or determined later)
Class 3 Museums in Japan; The Shōsō-in at Nara: the world’s oldest curated collection - (plus Reviews and Discussions) Selected Museum-Exhibitions (virtual or free)
Class 4 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Reviews and Discussions Selected Museum-Exhibitions (virtual and more)
Class 5 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Reviews and Discussions Selected Museum-Exhibitions (virtual & more)
Class 6 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Reviews and Discussions Selected Museum-Exhibitions (virtual & more)
Class 7 Selected Museum-Exhibitions - Reviews and Discussions Selected Museum-Exhibitions (virtual & more)

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.



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

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

Page Top