Experiential Learning for History Students: Active History Project - Museums, Memory, and Visual Culture (HIST*3560) | College of Arts

Experiential Learning for History Students: Active History Project - Museums, Memory, and Visual Culture (HIST*3560)

Code and section: HIST*3560*02

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Shauna McCabe (Art Gallery of Guelph)


AD-S Virtual:

This course will be taught online in a Synchronous format on the following scheduled day(s) and time(s):

W    2:30 pm - 5:20 pm

Details provided by instructor: Classes will primarily entail synchronous online lectures and discussion.

Course Synopsis:

Issues that have catalyzed Black Lives Matter and movements in support of Indigenous rights and sovereignty have had a substantial impact on museums, highlighting that they are in no way neutral in their communication of messages about history, memory, culture, and identity. Whether exhibitions or collections, the core work of museums and art institutions reflects a long record of excluding and marginalizing Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) in terms of selection, interpretation, and care of art and other objects – exclusions that reflect and shape values that give museums, art, and other objects meaning and significance in the public sphere.

This course is designed to deepen students' understanding of the ways museums actively define and communicate cultural memory and how history has been selectively remembered and represented to the public. We will look at art objects themselves to explore the ways visual culture influences thoughts about place, history, ethnicity, and identity. We will also examine the roles and responsibilities of arts and heritage institutions in relation to these movements and examine how museums address and respond to the need for social change. Engaging the Art Gallery of Guelph and its art collections, this project will provide students with a vital opportunity to explore the practice of history. Students will develop the skills involved in critically evaluating various elements of visual culture by participating actively in museum activities that may include collecting, exhibiting and interpreting art practices.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Through lectures, readings, and discussions, develop a broader and deeper understanding of how images and objects reflect and inflect our understanding of historical events
  2. Through independent research and writing, apply critical concepts and develop skills to evaluate and express the ways history is communicated in the public sphere
  3. Through class discussions and presentations, gain skills in the communication and demonstration of ideas related to the historical, social and ethical significance of the visual realm
  4. Through collaborative projects, gain experience and insight into museum practices in a contemporary context


Students do not require any previous History or Art History credits to enroll in this class.  

Method of Evaluation:

  1. Weekly inquiry contributions 10%
  2. Article summaries 20%
  3. Essay (artwork/object analysis) 20%
  4. Independent fieldtrip report 10%
  5. Presentation 10%
  6. Research Project 30%

Texts Required:

There is no textbook for this course.  Weekly readings can be located on course reserve or through CourseLink.

*Please note: This is a preliminary website description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.