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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423

In addition to the assignments listed below, students will be responsible for presenting certain readings throughout the semester.

In the first half of the semester, each week, students will be responsible for presenting a short summary of one of the assigned readings. This 5-minute presentation will include a brief summary of the article or book chapter as well as three discussion questions for the class.  Students will have to present twice during the first half of the semester. All students are required to do all the readings and to participate in the discussion; each student, though, will be the point person for a particular reading.

 In the second half of the semester, each week, 2-3 students will act as the “expert curators” on the particular religion that is the focus topic of that week (students will get to choose between Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Indian, or Byzantine and medieval).  All students are required to do all the readings assigned for that week. The “expert curators” will be asked to come to class prepared with 2 discussion questions. Through these class discussions and the readings, students will develop their individual research projects on and investigation into the particular selected culture and its religious objects for the final poster and paper at the end of the semester (see description of assignment below)

Assignment #1 WATCH NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM (the original, not #2)

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“Night at the Museum is a 2006 American adventure comedy film based on the 1993 children's book with the same name by Milan Trenc. It follows a divorced father trying to settle down, impress his son, and find his destiny. He applies for a job as a night watchman at New York City's American Museum of Natural History and subsequently discovers that the exhibits, animated by a magical Egyptian artifact, come to life at night.” (

The movie is available from Netflicks, libraries, and local video rental stores. We will use the film for class discussion about perceptions about the value of museums, stereotypes of museum professionals, and other themes. Keep in mind the YouTube video by Mimi and Kim ( and the issues that are raised in that video when answering the questions.

Night at the Museum Discussion Questions:

1. What are some of the very obvious stereotypes about museums in the film?

2. What staff members are evident in the film, and what is their role in the Museum?

3. What inaccuracies do you notice (examples: things in the wrong time or place)?

4. Where are issues of gender and race evident in the film?

5. Though it changes by the end, what is the nature of this museum in its relationship to community?

6. People seem to have fantasies about staying overnight in a museum (think Lisa Simpson and others as well as this film). Why?

7. What other observations would you make about the film?

8. Does this film help or harm museums? Why?

Be prepared to discuss these questions in class and have a 2-3-page essay addressing the questions. DUE February 4th, 2011

Assignment #2 Virtual Museum Visit

1. Choose a museum and visit virtually. Make sure that the museum you choose has a mission statement (either posted on their website or available if you contact the museum director). Explore their activities, programs, collections, and displays to see how they meet their mission.

2. Choose a museum (online) that meets each of the following criteria. You will be asked to explain your rationale with supporting evidence from the class readings and the museum wesbite.

- A museum you think provides the greatest benefit to its community

- A museum you think should not exist

- A museum you find inspiring

- A museum you find bizarre

- A museum in which you would most like to work.

Be prepared to discuss these questions in class and come to class with a 1-page summary to hand in. DUE February 18th, 2011


After visiting the Greek and Roman galleries at the RISD Museum and at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, students will write a brief (3-4 page) critical review of the displays in both museums. Questions to consider (among others) are:

-          How are the galleries arranged and organized? Geographically? Chronologically? Thematically?

-          Does the organization of the galleries aid the visitor in any way?

-          Are the galleries educational?

-          How are objects grouped?

-          Are the history of objects and their provenances made clear?

-          What are the collection polices of the museums and are they posted publicly?

-          What might you do differently in each museum?

-          Is there a particular type or material of artifact that receives the most attention?


Due via e-mail March 25th by midnight


DUE April 29th

Each student will play the role of a curator who is the expert on one culture’s religion and its artifacts (choices from Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Indian, or Byzantine and medieval). From the readings and class discussions in the second half of the semester, each student will become an ‘expert’ on the key components of his or her specific culture’s religion and religious values and beliefs, and what objects or types of objects might be most representative of those beliefs and acts.


POSTER: Based on each student’s understanding of the major tenets of his or her selected religion of study, each student will “curate” his or her own “case” on religious objects from one of the cultures focused on in the second half of the semester. Each student will be required to use 2 objects from the RISD Museum (images and object label information) and collect at least 10 other objects (images and object label information) from collections available online. Students will get to select any religious objects they wish from museums around the world. This “case” will take the form of a 2D poster, designed as a display case, and exhibiting the selected photographs of religious artifacts from that culture. Students will not be asked to create labels for each individual object in their case (they will take this information from the museum’s websites or from the museum itself). They will be asked to create a ‘wall text’ (a short narrative description of the themes of the case and what they represent) to accompany their display cases.


PAPER:  Students will write a final paper to accompany their poster display case (ca.10pages). Students must use at least 10 sources (properly cited) and sources must be a mix of articles and books. This paper must include research on and an explanation of the religion for which the student is the “expert curator.” The paper must also discuss the specific selection of the objects chosen for their case and the rationale behind such a selection (i.e., does the case represent that culture’s religion in general? Or is it representative of a more specialized aspect of that religion- funerary practice, sacrifice, divination, etc.?). Students will consider such questions as:, How does their case differ from or resemble displays of religious objects from the same culture in other museums?; Might there be any legal or controversial issues concerning the display of any of the objects in their case?; How representative of the particular religion is their case?; Does their case it represent a specific era or time period of that culture? Do contemporary belief systems need to be taken into account?

This paper will require some research about the specifics of the religion studied as well as analysis of articles on case studies concerning the display of sacred objects in a museum. You may use the articles included in the course readings, but you need to use at additional sources. You must use at least properly cited sources. Please feel free to get in contact with me regarding topics or areas of research.


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