Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies

  • Department Art and Art History
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Minor

Students hang art for a gallery exhibit/ Students hang art for a gallery exhibit/

This multi-disciplinary minor allows students to complete work in the departments of art history, chemistry, classics, history, and sociology and anthropology. Required coursework introduces students to aspects of cultural heritage and museum studies including looting, trading, marketing, unearthing, conserving and curating.

Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies 

Students take innovative courses with small class sizes that are led by dynamic professors. W&L’s Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies courses prepare students to engage critically and ethically with cultural institutions. The minor affords student the opportunity to handle artwork and curate their own art exhibitions on campus.

About the Department

This minor reflects a broad set of concerns related to how we think about and treat cultural heritage objects and sites. In the 21st century, museum institutions — whether historic sites and battlefields, museums of science, art or natural history — stand at an intersection between education and cultural diplomacy where thorny issues about ownership, repatriation, preservation, tradition and looting are often very publicly debated. Courses of this minor relate to issues of ethical treatment of cultural heritage concerning the manipulation, production and destruction of objects and sites in pursuit of generating specific narratives of history and cultural identity. Through course work and experiential learning, the CHMS minor provides students the opportunity to examine both the theory and practice of cultural heritage and the museum world.

Internships and Awards

Summer internship in museum work: The Department of University Collections of Art and History offers an eight-week paid summer internship. The program provides students with an introduction to basic museum policies and practices through hands-on experience with the collection including: accessioning, cataloging, proper storage methods, research, database management and loans. After eight weeks, students will leave the program with a basic understanding of the major curatorial and administrative issues all museums face, regardless of the different types of collections they possess.

Thomas V. Litzenburg Award: The Thomas V. Litzenburg Award was created by the Reeves Center in 2004. The award is made annually, at the discretion of the University Collections staff in consultation with the Art Department or another relevant department, to the student who submits the best paper on artwork in the Collections. This annual prize is named in honor of Thomas V.  Litzenburg Jr., Class of 1957, and former director of the Reeves Center.

Andrea Lepage

Department Head

Caryl Bryant

Administrative Assistant

News


Meet a Colleague: George Bent

George Bent is the Sidney Gause Childress Professor of Art History.

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W&L’s Staniar Gallery Presents “Florence As It Was”

The interactive exhibition will run from Feb. 13 through March 25.

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W&L’s Staniar Gallery Presents Rare Salvador Dalí Collection

‘Salvador Dalí: Les Chants de Maldoror’ features original etchings from the surrealist and will run from Jan. 11 through Feb. 8.

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Six W&L Students Awarded Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards of up to $5,000 to U.S. undergraduate students who are Pell Grant recipients.

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Melissa R. Kerin Selected as Next Director of the Mudd Center for Ethics

The associate professor of art history will serve as the Mudd Center Director for three years beginning July 1, 2024.

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John K. Delaney to Deliver Annual Pamela H. Simpson Lecture

Delaney will discuss the scientific imaging of paintings in his Oct. 30 lecture.

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Thierry Greub to Deliver Lecture on Cy Twombly’s Artwork

Greub will explore physical and emotional responses to Twombly’s works in his Oct. 16 lecture in Northen Auditorium.

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Students talk through the curatorial process with Patricia Hobbs.

W&L Students Curate Fall Art Exhibition

“Mohammad Omer Khalil: Musings,” co-curated by four Washington and Lee students as part of a seminar course in museum studies, will be on display in the Watson Galleries Sept. 28, 2023 through June 1, 2024.

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The DeLaney Center to Present Opening DeLaney Dialogue Discussion for the 2023-24 Academic Year

Professor Wendy Castenell kicks off the series on Sept. 19 at noon in Leyburn Library.

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Josh Caraballo ’25 Receives National Accounting Scholarship

Caraballo is one of 369 students from across the U.S. to receive the merit scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

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Museums at WLU

Museums at W&L: Fall 2023 Programs and Exhibitions

The Museums at W&L invite the public to their opening reception for “Musings” on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

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George Bent’s “Florence As It Was” Project Featured in Case Study and Documentary

Leica Geosystems followed Bent and his team of W&L students on a day spent mapping the city of Florence.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

ARTH 246

Questions of Ownership

This course explores the ways art and cultural heritage objects have been stolen, laundered, purchased, curated and destroyed in order to express political, religious and cultural messages. Case studies and current events are equally studied to shed light on practices of looting and iconoclasm.

ARTH 398

Seminar in Museum Studies

An exploration of the history, philosophy and practical aspects of museums. Topics of discussion include governance and administration, collections, exhibitions and education. The course alternates weekly readings and class discussion with field trips to regional museums.

ARTH 356

Science in Art

This course involves a survey of 17th-century Dutch history, art history, etc., which links the scientific analysis to the art and culture of the time. The first 12 weeks (CHEM 156) involving primarily the scientific and technical background are taught on campus at W&L during the Winter Term. The second four weeks (ARTH 356) involving art and culture, are taught at the Center for European Studies (CES) Universiteit Maastricht in The Netherlands.

CLAS 338

Pompeii

The site of ancient Pompeii presents a thriving Roman town of the first century AD, virtually frozen in time by the devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. In this course, we examine Pompeii’s archaeological remains — public buildings, domestic architecture, painting, artifacts, inscriptions and graffiti — in order to reconstruct the life of the town. We also consider religion, games and entertainment, politics and the structure of Roman society.

HIST 230

Discovering W&L’s Origins

This course introduces students to the practice of historical archaeology using W&L’s Liberty Hall campus and ongoing excavations there as a case study. With archaeological excavation and documentary research as our primary sources of data, we use the methods of these two disciplines to analyze our data using tools from the digital humanities to present our findings.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Andrea Lepage
Andrea

Andrea Lepage

Pamela H. Simpson Professor of Art History and Department Head

Andrea Lepage offers classes in the following areas: contemporary Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o art, modern and colonial Latin American art, arts of Mesoamerica and the Andes, and Early Modern European art (Italian, Spanish, Dutch).

Rebecca Benefiel
Rebecca

Rebecca Benefiel

Abigail Grigsby Urquhart Professor of Classics

Benefiel teaches classics and Latin courses such as Pompeii, Classics in a Digital Age, and The Poetry of Ovid. She studies Latin epigraphy, Roman social and cultural history, Latin literature and Roman archaeology.

George Bent
George

George Bent

Sidney Gause Childress Professor in the Arts

Bent teaches courses on medieval art, Renaissance art and gothic art. He has researched Italian art extensively and recently taught a course called Digital Florence in which students helped to digitally reconstruct the city.

Curriculum Vitae

Isra El-Beshir
Isra

Isra El-Beshir

Director of Museums

Ron Fuchs III
Ron

Ron Fuchs III

Curator of Ceramics; Manager of the Reeves Center

Fuchs manages the Reeves Collection at W&L, which was founded in 1967 with a gift of ceramics from alumnus Euchlin Reeves and his wife, the painter Louise Herreshoff. The collection contains ceramics made in Asia, Europe and the Americas between 1500 and today. Fuchs\'s areas of interest include Chinese export porcelain and the China Trade.

Donald Gaylord
Donald

Donald Gaylord

Research Archaeologist and Instructor of Anthropology

Gaylord teaches courses in archaeology including Field Methods in Archaeology and Discovering W&L’s Origins Using Historical Archaeology. He researches the anthropological analysis of property ownership and land use.

Curriculum Vitae

Melissa R. Kerin
Melissa R.

Melissa R. Kerin

Associate Professor of Art History

Kerin teaches courses in South Asian and East Asian art and architecture. Her research focuses on the intricate and multifaceted relationships between art and identity formation, cultural memory and religious praxis.

Elliott H. King
Elliott H.

Elliott H. King

Associate Professor of Art History

King teaches courses in American and European Art, 1750 to the present. His research specialization is Surrealist art and thought with particular concentration on Salvador Dalí\'s production after 1940.

Michael Laughy
Michael

Michael Laughy

Boetsch Term Associate Professor of Classics and Department Head

Laughy teaches courses in ancient Greek religion, history, art and archaeology. His research interests are Greek religion, Greek epigraphy and ancient Athens.

Erich Uffelman
Erich

Erich Uffelman

Bentley Professor of Chemistry

Uffelman teaches courses in upper-level inorganic chemistry. He also teaches courses that overlap with the Art and Art History Department, such as Science in Art. Uffelman regularly supervises summer research students.

Curriculum Vitae

Rebecca Benefiel
George Bent
Isra El-Beshir
Ron Fuchs III
Donald Gaylord
Melissa R. Kerin
Elliott H. King
Michael Laughy
Erich Uffelman
Andrea Lepage