UC Santa Barbara > History Department > Prof. Marcuse > Courses > Hist 201e > Collective Memory Seminar Homepage
The Persistance of Memory, by Dali 1931 Salvator Dali, "The Persistance of Memory," 1931
see: Wikipedia page & MOMA interpretation

Museums and History
(UCSB Hist 201E-Museums)

by Professor Harold Marcuse (homepage)
contact: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu

class Gauchospace website (course use only)

page begun Jan. 5, 2009; last update: 7/21/10

(at top)
Old Announcements
( at bottom)
Course description
& requirements
2009 syllabus;
Weekly Topics
My other courses
Hist 2C, 33D, Hitler;
Hist 133
A, B, C, P, Q;
200E-Germany: 2002;
233AB Seminar
: 2003

Announcements (old announcements move to bottom)(visitor stats)

To start with, an apology for the chaotic nature of this course website.
We used UCSB's "CMS" (Course Management System) Gauchospace as the primary forum for the course, so everything was posted there, and I did not have time to maintain this site at the time. What you find here is a somewhat random repository of what I could reconstruct after more than a year.

Course Description & Requirements (back to top)

This graduate seminar addresses aspects of the development and functioning of history museums and exhibitions (conceived of as temporary museums). First of all, what makes a museum a museum? Then: What is a history museum--what features distinguish one from other types of museums? What range of institutions or exhibitions might be considered history museums? Where, when and why did they originate? How have they changed over time--can we make out phases in their development, or key events/exemplars that changed the nature or purpose of (history) museums? What functions have they had and do they perform, and how have those changed over time? Finally, what effects do they have? How well have they fulfilled their functions? How can we assess that?

The course is designed for students with an emphasis in public history or reception history (how historical events have been portrayed and perceived over time). However, since most historical topics have some type of museum associated with them, any advanced student should be able to participate with profit in their area of specialization. Since my own expertise is in contemporary and European history, many of the examples are drawn from that area, but participants are encouraged to establish foci in the areas they know best as well.

This seminar is more research- than reading-based. Although there are some common core readings, the topics are to be developed by examining specific museums.


  1. The format of the weekly sessions is that everyone read the core reading, and select one museum or site that they will research and present under that week's aspect. The research is not to be exhaustive, but what one can find out in a few hours of focused searching and reading. A 1-2 page handout on each museum should be distributed to each participant each week. It should contain core information such as dates, descriptions, varying interpretations, and annotated resources.
    Additionally, as the seminar progresses and participants choose "their" museum (see no. 5, below), each of us will be expected to contribute about that museum as well.
  2. For each seminar meeting one student will take minutes summarizing the main results of the discussion. This should be posted on Gauchospace by Wednesday 8pm.
  3. I would like to use the Gauchospace website forum to extend discussion beyond the classroom, with post-seminar postings each Tuesday, and pre-seminar postings by Sunday evening, 8pm. The post-seminar contributions can be thought of as follow-up on discussion, open questions or reading suggestions; the pre-seminar postings should contain preliminary thoughts about the core reading, perhaps additional references with brief annotations (why it might be relevant, how found, notes on content), or interesting results about the individually researched museum for that week.
  4. There will be one Saturday field trip to several historical museums in Los Angeles. The selection will be made from: Autry Museum for the American West, Japanese-American National Museum, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Museum of Tolerance, Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  5. The formal written requirement for the course is a ca. 15 page case history of a museum (or an aspect of several museums) in the student's area of interest, with an annotated bibliography of resources.

Weekly Topics & Readings

Week 1: Introduction (back to top)

  • Brainstorming exercises (definition/criteria; examples); scheduling of field trip; selection of weekly experts; discussion of ideas for final papers.
  • David Lowenthal, "Fabricating Heritage," in: History & Memory 10:1(Spring 1998).

Additional readings not included below, distributed as pdfs:

  • Barry Lord (ed.), The Manual of Museum Learning (2007). UCSB AM7 .M36 2007 (pdf)

Week 2: Origins of (History) Museums (back to top)

  • Tony Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics (London: Routledge, 1995), Intro & chap. 1: "The Formation of the Museum," pp. 17-58 google books
  • Warren Leon & Roy Rosenzweig (eds.), History Museums in the United States: A Critical Assessment (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989).
  • Gary Kulik "Designing the Past: History-Museum Exhibtions from Peale to the Present," in Leon & Rosenzweig (eds.), History Museums in the United States (1989), pp. 3-37: google books
  • Peter Woodhead & Geoffrey Stansfield, Keyguide to Information Sources in Museum Studies (Mansell, 1994), 3-7. google books
  • Edward Alexander, Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1979):
    ch. 1 "What is a Museum?" 5-15+notes (pdf)
    ch. 5 "The History Museum" 79-95+notes (pdf). Google books

Week 3: National/Patriotic History Museums: Case Studies (back to top)

  • H. Marcuse, "Memories of World War II and the Holocaust in Europe," in: Gordon Martel (ed.), A Companion to Europe, 1900-1945 (Blackwell, 2006), 487-504. ($167 and searchable at amazon)(overview essay about 11 European countries)

Museum Controversies

  • Lentin (ed.), 2004, chap. 6: Andrea Tyndall, "Memory, Authenticity and Replication of the Shoah in Museums: Defensive Tools of the Nation," 111-125. How Yad Vashem, USHMM, & Anne Frank House maintain national myths.

Week 4: Historic Sites (back to top)


Week 5: Holocaust Sites and Museums (back to top)

  • Omer Bartov, Murder in our Midst (1996), 11pp: "Plastic Holocausts: Making It Better," (8 page pdf)

Week 6: Field Trip to Los Angeles: 3 Museum (back to top)

Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009

  • Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance
    • Marcuse, Harold, "Experiencing the Jewish Holocaust in Los Angeles: The Beit Hashoah—Museum of Tolerance," in: Other Voices, 2:1 (February 2000)(online)
  • Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
    6435 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90048, between San Vicente and La Jolla

General reading:

  • Linenthal, Edward, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum (Penguin, 1995), 336 pages ($6 & searchable at amazon)

Week 7: Exhibition Controversies OR "Living" Museums, Oral History, Reenactment(back to top)

  • MacDonald 2005 (pdf)
  • Bleakney 2006 (pdf)
  • Linenthal, Edward (co-editor), History Wars: The Enola Gay & Other Battles for the American Past (Holt, 1996)
    • Kohn, Richard, "History and the Culture Wars: The Case of the Smithsonian Institution's Enola Gay Exhibition," JAH 82(1995), 1036-63. (jstor)

Week 8: Visitor Experience and Museum Assessment (back to top)

  • Falk & Dierking (eds.), Learning from Museums (2000), intro (1-14) (pdf)
  • E. Hooper-Greenhill, Musuems and their Visitors (1994), ch. 4 "Research and Evaluation" (69-83) (pdf)
  • George Hein, Learning in the Museum (Routledge, 1998), ch. 6, "Studying Visitors" (100-134). (long, but also very hands-on) (pdf)

Readings selected and annotated by Stacey

  • Aroyo, Laura, "Personalized Museum Experience: Extending the Museum Experience Beyond the Visit"
    The article focuses on a project that began in the Netherlands in 2005 which works on ways to meet the needs of different visitors - for instance one-time visitors, or repeat visitors. How can the museum personalize both the virtual and physical site visits for these different typse of visitors? It describes a particular program (you can go to the demo site and use the tour wizard). It explains how the tour wizard works in terms of asking users information about their preferences of particular works of art, and then making suggestions of other topics or works of interest.
  • Wang, Yiwen, "Be Your Own Curator with the CHIP Tour Wizard"
    The article discusses the same project as the above, so there is some overlap in the discussion of the purpose of the CHIP project. It however provides further information about how the tour wizard has changed, and it provides inforamtion about mobile applications - how visitors can download tour information and use it in the museum.
  • Pert, Tom, "Handheld Heritage: the Development of Mobile Applications by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales"
    The article discusses the development of a program that allows users to access information based on their location, essentially allowing them to tour a certain locale with a handheld device. This is interesting because it is developed in-house, but also because it uses devices provided by the sponsoring institutions, whereas some of the other articles listed here rely on utilizing devices owned by the user.
  • Filippini-Fantoni, Silvia, "Bookmarking in Museums: Extending the Museum Experience Beyond the Visit"
    This article looks at evaluations and usage data of several different formats - kiosks, handhelds, online, and mobile devices in several museums in the US and the UK. It discusses whether or not bookmarking - which allows users to mark information prior to visits to help in the planning or during a visit to find out more information later - is actually a useful tool for museums. The data considered demonstrates that the usage of the programs is often disappointing and discusses the reasons behind lack of use, but it also suggests alternative points concerning why such programs still act as useful tools for visitors and museums.
  • Haley-Goldman, Kate, "Cell Phones and Exhibitions: 2.0 Moving Beyond the Pilot Stage"
    The article discusses the challenges and benefits to using certain handheld devices in museum settings. The author focuses on personal devices such as PDAs mp3 players or mobile phones as opposed to a device that must be provided by the institution. The article looks at visitor use of such handheld possibilities, why some visitors are hesitant to use their cell phones, and why those who do may have a more enriching experience.

Week 9: Presentations (back to top)

  • Brian: Danube-Swabians in Ulm
  • Christian: East German Refugees in Berlin-Marianfelde
  • Stacy, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Tara: Stasi-Museum in Berlin
  • Torey, Children in Japanese-American Internment Camps

New & Recent Books (back to top)

Digital Museums

  • Herminia Din and Phyllis Hecht (eds.), The Digital Museum: A Think Guide (2007). UCSB AM133 .D54 2007
  • Thomas A. Woods, "Museums and the Public: Doing History Together," in: Journal of American History 82:3(Dec. 1995), 1111-1115. pdf
  • Handler, Richard and Eric Gable, The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg (Duke, 1997), 272 pages ($16 & TOC on amazon)

Links on Museums (back to top)


  • .




  • History and Memory (journal by Indiana Univ. Press): Tables of contents 8(1996)-present.

Some Basic Works on Memorial Sites/Museums (back to top)

  • Laqueur, Thomas W., Introduction, in: Representations 69 (Winter 2000), (Special Issue: Grounds for Remembering), 1-8. (jstor, pdf)
  • Linenthal, Edward, Sacred Ground: Americans & Their Battlefields (Illinois, 1991), 352 pages. ($12 and searchable on amazon)
  • Linenthal, Edward (co-editor), History Wars: The Enola Gay & Other Battles for the American Past (Holt, 1996)($6 and searchable at amazon)
  • Pillemer, David B., Momentous Events, Vivid Memories. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), esp. chaps. 5 & 6. ($14 and searchable at amazon)
  • Winter, Jay. Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning. New York: Cambridge, 1995, 320 pages ($15 and searchable on amazon)

Old Announcements (back to top)

author: H. Marcuse

visitors since Jan. 1, 2011

This counter counts each computer only once each day, no matter how many hits come from it.

(back to top)

837 on June 24, 2014