Fall 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Brettell, Rick
Discipline and Number
HUAS 6318 Section 001
W Time 4:00 PM - 6:45 PM
Course Title
The Civic Art Museum

Description of Course:

Course taught by Richard R. Brettell, Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair, and Bonnie Pitman, Distinguished Research Scholar in Residence

American cities have been the locus of important art museums since the beginning of the museum movement in late 18th century Boston and Philadelphia. Although the most important of these were not founded until after the Civil War, the last three decades of the 19th century and the first two of the 20th saw the foundation of major urban art museums in virtually every American city--most named for the city of their founding rather than for a donor or civic official. These institutions attempted to unite the arts of humankind in all media and periods and, thus, to be as "universal" as museums in European countries with colonial agendas. None had any "national" aspirations or support, but were, rather, with the symphony orchestras, natural history museums, science museums, theaters, and operas, part of a pattern of civic cultural binding which held American cities together before the great age of professional sports and mass media in which we now live.

Richard Brettell and Bonnie Pitman, both former McDermott Directors of the Dallas Museum of Art and co-directors of UTD's CISMS (Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums in Society), are ideal leaders of this research-based graduate seminar in which each student will be part of a team working on a comparative study either of a small comparative group of civic art museums or on a particular problem or issue that links such museums.

The course will consider the broad history of the civic art museum in America in a series of seminars, but will then be rooted in a particularly deep study of the Dallas Museum of Art, which, under a different name, was established more than 100 years ago in 1903. The DMA has an archivist and is open to research projects as well as support for its own internal research. Thus, students will be able to do primary work on topics varying from collection development, curatorial definition, the role of the director, donor development, educational programs, exhibition design, etc.

Course Topics:
1.Class introduction: Introduction to CISMS, Museum program at UTD, and seminar members (RB and BP)
2. Types of Museums and the Study of Museums by Type (RB and PB)
3. The Forming and Early History of the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (RB)
4. The Art Institute of Chicago and the "Institute Model" of the Civic Art Museum: Museums with Art Schools (RB)
5. Civic Museums in City Parks: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle
6. Civic Art Museums in Texas: An Introduction to Developments Statewide (RB)
7. The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts: 1903-1950: The DMFA and the DMCA: Apart and Together: The Founding of the Foundation for the Arts: 1950-1980-- including an overview of directors, Board Members; and Key Staff (BP and RB)
8. The Dallas Museum of Art: 1980-present, a change of name, identity, and location
9. The Development of the Permanent Collection: Who owns and who defines a museum's permanent collection? (RB/BP/Olivier Meslay) HELD AT THE DMA
10. The DMA as a pioneer in Education and Public Engagement (BP and DMA Staff)
11. The Installations and Interpretation of the Collections ( DMA staff and BP) HELD AT DMA
12. The Exhibition Programs of the DMA from 1936 to the present (Tamara Wooten-Bonner and a curator)
13. Vision for the future (Max Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director, and Rob Stein, Deputy Director)
14. Future issues facing civic museums: collections development, audience changes and development, new technologies, and funding (BP and RB)
15. Concluding Discussion

Required Texts:


Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Each student will be expected to participate weekly in class discussions after doing specifically (and individually) assigned reading (40% of the grade). Each will also write a 15-20 page (3500-4000 word) essay on a topic selected with the professors; these will usually involve the DMA, but will consider that museum in a national/international context appropriate to the particular topic (60% of grade).

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