Museum Objects as Evidence: Challenging the Narrative
An exceptional opportunity for emerging scholars in the humanities. Connect, learn, and develop!
From July 8 to 19, 2024, the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), in collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center (New York City) will offer an interdisciplinary Summer School in Amsterdam devoted to object-based research within a museum setting - a unique international programme available for 16 participants by application only.
The programme at the Rijksmuseum aims to explore the potential of object-oriented research in reshaping historical narratives. By considering the distinct temporal dimensions and counter narratives that exist within the object, we hope to uncover the hidden complexities of museum collections and to inspire relevant questions in the in the context of contemporary museums and collections.
Over the course of two weeks, participants will work closely with an interdisciplinary team from the Rijksmuseum and Bard Graduate Center. Experts in the object-oriented fields of study will provide participants with an exclusive and in-depth look at the technical, analytic, and interpretive practices that take place behind the scenes, in the conservation studios, science laboratories, and curatorial departments. By focusing on how material objects provide primary evidence for historical research, this collaborative course introduces multiple techniques and perspectives for extracting the types of information museum objects generate and unraveling the many stories they can tell.
About the programme
The Summer School is anchored by a series of object-focused case studies drawn from the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. New questions, research approaches, as well as science-based methods will help broaden our knowledge and understanding of objects and the ways in which they can bring to the fore previously unknown histories of makers and owners, and help unravel the dense historical layers found in every object.
The summer school will help highlight the varied ways of gathering information about the material past, allowing us to ask more profound questions about the circumstances of objects’ production and use, and about the people who made and used them. Participants will also be introduced to the use of several advanced analytical and scientific techniques. Live demonstrations will be given by the conservators and scientists, so that the participants can gain first-hand information about the principles and, perhaps more importantly, the possibilities and limitations of technical analysis. Object-oriented sessions will be complemented by an interactive programme of seminars, lectures, and practical assignments highlighting the possibilities, challenges and limitations of studying and exhibiting cultural history in museums. Excursions to other museums and institutions form part of the program.
Key themes will include:
- Reading the object
- Object biography
- Objects as historical evidence
- Damage, loss and decay
- The question of authenticity
- Reconstructing the object
- Museum display and meaning
- Reimagining the object
- Thinking of the future through objects from the past
Participants will emerge from the Summer School with enhanced tools and perspectives for conducting innovative object-based research, and for using museum objects as historical evidence.
A concept programme will we placed on the website by the beginning of December.
Open to advanced students (MA and PhD) and young professionals specializing in the fields of history, history of art, archaeology, or anthropology. Students in the humanities and social sciences who are interested in questions of cultural heritage are especially welcomed. Selection is based on excellence, academic credentials, and work experience. A limited number of participants will be admitted to the course. All applications must be submitted online (via the following link) and in English before 2 February 2024. Candidates are advised to apply as soon as possible. The following documents need to be provided:
- A motivation letter
- A resume (in pdf-format – no longer than 3 pages)
Applicants selected for the Summer School will be notified by the end of February 2024. Only the selected applicants will be contacted. As we jointly amplify our efforts toward becoming truly inclusive, ensuring that diversity and equity are lived values, we actively encourage candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply to the Summer School. The organising institutions reserve the right to cancel the Summer School should the number of eligible applicants not meet the minimum requirement or in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
Payment will be processed by the Rijksmuseum in euros. The full course programme is offered at a subsidized fee of €1,250 (including VAT) per person. The fee covers participation in the programme, including accommodation in Amsterdam, sessions with experts, museum admission fees, field trip travel expenses, networking drinks reception, lunches, coffee breaks, and one joint dinner. Travel to Amsterdam will be arranged and covered by the participants.
Thanks to generous funding partners, we are able to award two US citizens a grant that covers the course fee and the round-trip flights between North America and The Netherlands. Should you want to apply for the scholarship, please include a travel grant request in your motivation letter.
Made possible by
Supported by the Fonds Beukenhorst/Rijksmuseum Fonds.
Organised in partnership with the Bard Graduate Center.
8 Jul. - 19 Jul. 2024
Object-focused case studies
MA students PhD candidates emerging professionals (3-5 years’ experience in a university or museum setting)
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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