Skip to main content
CODE 106726
SEMESTER 1° Semester


The course aims to provide students with a summary of discussions on the museum and in particular will try to offer an answer to these questions:

  • What is a museum?
  • What are its purposes?
  • How do we encounter and think about objects?
  • How and why do museums look after them?



The course aims to provide information on the museum concept, the museum's role in contemporary society and the practices associated to it, including curating, preservation, public programming, and education.


In this course we will explore some of the key fundamentals concerning museums and galleries. Beginning with an examination of various definitions of ‘the museum’, as well as the changes in these conceptions and perceptions over time, this course will discuss the role and involvement of key international museology institutions before focusing on the question of what and - crucially - who museums are for.

We will also consider some conservation aspects in terms of the materials, their characteristics and matters of preservation in the museum environment; we will focus on how museums both shape and are shaped by the diverse communities, and the wider social and cultural landscapes within which they are situated.

This course will explore and assess how wider agendas, policy and current museology have impacted and continue to impact on these institutions. Key themes relating to the analysis of the museum’s place in society - investigated by looking at museums’ history, and at changing ideas about them as sites of knowledge and education - lie at the heart of this course. The debate animating the contemporary museum discourse and practice (with reference to decolonising practice, museum ethics and the postdigital museum) will be addressed. Lectures will also address the issue of the culture of sustainability, with a focus on local sustainable development with the promotion of a museum ecosystem.

The student will be able to:

  • understand and explain the topics covered during the classes and in the bibliography texts;
  • remember the contents of the classes they attended and of the set bibliography they studied;
  • demonstrate that they possess the critical tools necessary for the analysis of what a museum is and what are its aims and purposes;
  • apply the acquired theoretical knowledge to concrete case studies.

Students are advised to attend at least two thirds of the classes.


B1 level in English, with adequate skills in listening comprehension.


Fourty hours divided into twenty classes (two hours each), face-to-face classes, PowerPoint presentations; field activities (visits to palaces, museums etc.).

In the first part of the course seminars might be organized, where small groups of students will have to discuss and lead a debate on one of the readings from the bibliography. At the end of the first part of the course a practical workshop is scheduled, where students will have to produce something (a text, a leaflet etc) on a specific theme discussed during the module.

The second part of the lessons will be devoted to a focus on Genoese Museums (State Museums, City Museums, Private Museums): from local history and tradition on the display of painting collections and interiors to modern museology with a specific interest in the work of Franco Albini (1905-1977). Case studies on Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Rosso with guided tours of each museum. Students will have access to the collections, museums' departments for conservation and restoration, deposits; will learn how museums organize exhibitions, educational programs, communication, administration, restoration and maintenance; will talk to museum staff on topics such as museum organization, administration, accessibility security and safety, education and conservation.

Classes are held in person. Attendance, although not compulsory, is highly recommended. 

The teacher will make available on AulaWeb supplementary materials useful for the preparation of the exam.


Introduction to the history and the key elements of museums.

Topics covered:

  • The history and definition of museums
  • The social role of the museum
  • Museums and ‘decolonisation’
  • The educational role of the museum
  • Museums in social and cultural landscapes
  • The ‘postdigital’ museum
  • Museum conservation
  • Case studies




  •  Key Concepts of Museology, ed. by A. Desvallées and F. Mairesse, Paris, 2010, available at the link: <>;
  • A sea of museums. Sailing the cultural heritage of Genoa’s civic museums, ed. by A. De Pascale, Genoa, SAGEP, 2023.

Journal articles/papers:

  • P. Findlen, The Museum: Its Classical Etymology and Renaissance Genealogy, «Journal of the History of Collections», 1 (1), 1989, pp. 59-78;
  • O. Raggio, Collecting Nature in Genoa 1780-1870. From Aristocratic Patronage to Civic Patrimony, «Journal of the History of Collections», 10 (1), 1998, pp. 41-59;
  • I. Jenkins, The Elgin Marbles: Questions of Accuracy and Reliability, «International Journal of Cultural Property», 10 (1), 2001, pp. 55-69;
  • D. Preziosi, Art History and Museology: Rendering the Visible Legible, in, A Companion to Museum Studies, ed. by S. Macdonald, Oxford, Blackwell, 2006, pp. 50-63.

The above-listed recommended bibliography is valid for all exams; further reading options might be suggested by the lecturer during classes.

Programme for students attending classes (at least two third of lectures):

  • Notes from lectures; handbooks;
  • One paper chosen from the list (see “Papers”)

Programme for students unable to attend classes:

  • Handbooks;
  • Three papers chosen from the list (see “Papers”);
  • Experimental Museology Institutions, Representations, Users, ed. by M. Achiam, M. Haldrup, K. Drotner, London, Routledge, 2021, available at: <>.


Exam Board




ELENA PUTTI (Substitute)



Lessons will start on 19 th September, h. 13.00 (Classroom 4 [via Balbi 2 - Palazzo Gio Francesco Balbi]);

the course will have the collaboration of Dr. Andrea Paolini.

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



Oral exam on the recommended bibliography, the teaching material, notes taken by students (for students who attended classes).


Oral exam to assess learning of general concepts and specific contents tied to the themes of choice analysed by the candidate, as well as the candidate’s acquisition of methodological tools necessary for the understanding of museological issues.

Exam schedule

Data appello Orario Luogo Degree type Note
20/12/2023 12:30 GENOVA Orale Dear all, I would like to inform you that the examinations will be held in my office (via Balbi 4, 3rd floor). Best regards, Eliana Carrara
18/01/2024 13:30 GENOVA Orale Dear all, I would like to inform you that the examinations will be held in my office (via Balbi 4, 3rd floor). Best regards, Eliana Carrara
09/02/2024 13:30 GENOVA Orale Dear all, I would like to inform you that the examinations will be held in my office (via Balbi 4, 3rd floor). Best regards, Eliana Carrara
08/05/2024 13:30 GENOVA Orale
13/06/2024 10:30 GENOVA Orale Dear all, I would like to inform you that the examinations will be held in my office (via Balbi 4, 3rd floor). Best regards, Eliana Carrara
27/06/2024 10:30 GENOVA Orale
18/07/2024 10:30 GENOVA Orale
12/09/2024 10:30 GENOVA Orale


Examinations will be held in presence.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Gender equality
Gender equality
Sustainable cities and communities
Sustainable cities and communities