74798 - Art and Cultural Mediation: History, Methods and European Trends (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student: acquires critical knowledge about the conditions of creation, production, dissemination, mediation and teaching that characterize the art and its history; knows how to situate the cultural object and the work of art in a specific historical and social context recognizing the major actors involved and the dialectic aspects between the artist's expression and the use of the work by the community; acquire the tools, to understand the links between the cultural heritage institutions (museums, archives, libraries, historical monuments and major archaeological sites) and citizens. In particular, through the study of trades between artistic heritage and society, the student learns to provide the capacity to interpret and discover the art to an evolving international audience.

Course contents

Learning outcomes a.a. 2018/2019

After completing the course, the student acquires historical, theoretical and methodological knowledge about communication strategies fostering the relationship between publics, art, museums and cultural heritage. The student has also key tools to evaluate disclosure and informal/non-formal educational actions in art museums, as well as to project knowledge sharing activities for the broad-ranging museum community in accordance with the European guidelines and the international policies.

Course contents

The course aims to deal with the notions of gaps and mediations in art museums from an inter- and intracultural perspective. It is organized in two parts, one general and one specific:

  1. Museums&Spectators: from barriers to mediations;
  2. Art&Science: overcoming the “two cultures”.

These issues will be considered from the following related standpoints:

  • relationships between museum display, mediation and cultural action, with best/worst practices examples;
  • museum experiences, with a focus on visitors’ imagination and creativity;
  • narratives, i.e. syncretism, matches, boundaries and conflicts between words and images;
  • negotiations of meaning and translations of knowledge, with a specific attention to the relationship between art and science in museums and exhibition spaces.


Students are required to prepare the mandatory bibliography, i.e. 5 texts: all the texts from section A plus two texts from section B.

Section A – Museums&Spectators: from barriers to mediations (3 books)

M.T. Balboni Brizza, Immaginare il museo. Riflessioni sulla didattica e sul pubblico, Jaca Book, Milano 2006 (2018).

E. Nardi (ed.), Musei e pubblico. Un rapporto educativo, FrancoAngeli, Milano 2004.

S. Zuliani, Effetto museo. Arte, critica, educazione, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2009.

Section B – Art&Science: overcoming the “two cultures” (a choice of 2 books)

A. Lugli, G. Pinna, V. Vercelloni, Tre idee di museo, ed. by G. Pinna, Jaca Book, Milano 2005.

M. Merzagora, P. Rodari, La scienza in mostra. Musei science centre e comunicazione, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2007.

C. Tartarini, Quadri di sintomi, FrancoAngeli, Milano 2015.

C. Tartarini, Il pennello di Cupido. Il dottor Meige e il mal d’amore nella pittura olandese del Seicento, Carocci, Roma 2017.


Recommended readings [Section C] 

Students are also required to read 1 of the following books:

H. S. Becker, I mondi dell'arte [or. title: Art Worlds], il Mulino, Bologna 2012.

A. Bennett, Una visita guidata [or. title: Going to the Pictures], Adelphi, Milano 2008.

S. Bodo (ed.), Il museo relazionale. Riflessioni ed esperienze europee, Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, Torino 2003.

P. Bourdieu, A. Darbel, L'amore dell'arte, le leggi della diffusione culturale: i musei d'arte europei e il loro pubblico [or. title: L'amour de l'art: les musées et leur public], Guaraldi, Rimini 1972.

L. Branchesi, V. Curzi, N. Mandarano, Comunicare il museo oggi. Dalle scelte museologiche al digitale, Skira, Milano 2016.

S. Chaumier, F. Mairesse, La médiation culturelle, Armand Colin, Paris 2013.

J. Clair, La crisi dei musei [or. title: Malaise dans les musées], Skira, Milano 2008.

J. Elkins, Dipinti e lacrime. Storie di gente che ha pianto davanti a un quadro [or. title: Pictures& Tears. A History of People who Have Cried in front of Paintings], Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2007.

D. Freedberg, Il potere delle immagini. Il mondo delle figure: reazioni ed emozioni del pubblico [or. title The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response], Einaudi, Torino 2009.

K. Gibbs, M. Sani, J. Thompson J. (eds.), Musei e apprendimento lungo tutto l’arco di vita. Manuale europeo (or english version: Lifelong learning in Museums. An European Handbook), Edisai, Ferrara 2007.

G. E. Hein, Learning in the Museum, Routledge, London-New-York 1998.

E. Hooper-Greenhill, I musei e la formazione del sapere [or. title: Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge], Il Saggiatore, Milano 2005 [or online English version]

E. Hooper-Greenhill, The Educational Role of the Museum, Routledge, London-New York 1999 (2nd edition).

M. Maggi, Musei alla frontiera. Continuità, divergenza, evoluzione nei territori della cultura, Jaca Books, Milano 2009.

S. Mastandrea e F. Maricchiolo (eds.), The Role of the Museum in the Education of Young Adults. Motivation emotion and learning, RomaTre Press, Roma 2016.

A. Mottola Molfino, L’etica dei musei, Allemandi, Torino 2004.

I. Pezzini, Semiotica dei nuovi musei, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2011.

C. Ribaldi (ed.), Il nuovo museo 1. Origini e percorsi, il Saggiatore, Milano 2005.

A. Somaini (ed.), Il luogo dello spettatore. Forme dello sguardo nella cultura delle immagini, Vita & Pensiero, Milano 2005.

L. Weschler, Il gabinetto delle meraviglie di Mr. Wilson [or. title: Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology], Adelphi, Milano 1999.

N.B. Further readings and bibliographical information will be provided throughout the course to attending students.

For specific interests or requirements, students are asked to contact Chiara Tartarini.

Teaching methods

Traditional lectures; active/collaborative learning; case studies; debate and class exercises.

Assessment methods

The final examination consists in an interview about texts listed in section Readings/Bibliography (A, B [C]).

The students are required to demonstrate the acquisition of a critical understanding of the texts and, if they are attending students, of the topics discussed throughout the course.

  • It will be assessed as “excellent” the performance of students achieving an in-depth knowledge and an organic vision of the course contents, the ability to connect different topics and to use a proper specific language.
  • It will be assessed as “good” the performance of students showing a correct knowledge of the topics, a good analysis and synthesis capability, and using a proper language.
  • It will be assessed as “sufficient” the performance of students showing mostly mnemonic knowledge, not articulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, a correct but not always appropriate language.
  • It will be assessed as “insufficient” the performance of students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability to analyse the main topics.

To take the examination, students shall register in the list by AlmaEsami service, respecting the deadlines. If students already registered decide not to sit the examination, they are asked to cancel their name from the exam list.

Teaching tools

Traditional lectures, slides and audio-visual projections, web resources, shared materials with students, debate, course tests.

Office hours

See the website of Chiara Tartarini