• Offered by School of Art
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Art History
  • Areas of interest Art History

This course examines the history of art collecting and collections from their origins in temple treasuries, through the private collections of the mediaeval worlds of Europe and Asia, to the role of patrons and princes, past and present in the establishment of art collections and policies.  The impact of world exploration and empire on the development of collections and the evolution of public collections are major themes. In addition, contemporary issues regarding collection development will be addressed. The impact of social, political and ethical environments on museum collecting, display and documentation will be explored with particular reference to Australian collections.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:


On completion of the course students should be able to

1. Outline and present orally and in written form major themes of collecting history

2. Use electronic resources to find and share information regarding international laws relating to cultural heritage, and discuss their impact on collecting

3. Interpret commentary, written and oral, related to art collecting internationally

4. Develop hypotheses regarding potential subtexts within the material itself

5. Describe contemporary factors affecting art collection development

Indicative Assessment

The course is divided loosely into two parts.  The first section focusses on the history of collecting and collecting institutions.  The second part of the course addresses issues which affect public and private collection in the 20th and 21st centuries.  While the two parts are by no means mutually exclusive, this division provides a framework for student research and the presentation of assignments. 

Students are expected to present a tutorial-essay on a topic from each section of the course, thus becoming very familiar with both historical collections and contemporary concerns. 

Assessment details

There are 5 assessment items for this course:

  • 1. 2000 word essay based on a topic from Weeks 2-7: 35% (outcomes 1,3,4)
  • 2. Tutorial presentation 15 mins: 10% (outcomes 1,3,4)
  • 3. 2000 word essay based on a topic from Weeks 8-13: 35% (outcomes 1,2,3,4,5)
  • 4. Tutorial presentation 15 mins: 10% (outcomes 2,3,4,5)
  • 5. Participation - tutorials and blog/ on-line forum: 10% (outcomes 2,3,4)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Students can expect to spend anaverage of two and a half class contact hours a week(lecturesand 1 hour tutorial) and an additional 7.5 hours per week in reading and assignment preparation. Tutorial attendance is mandatory.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Preliminary Reading

Jonathon Brown. "Kings and Connoisseurs. Collecting art in seventeenth century Europe", Princeton: University Press, 1994.

Sarah Thornton. “Seven Days in the Art World”, W.W.Norton and Co: New York, 2008

Journal of the History of Collections (available as electronic full-text journal through the ANU library).




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $1164
2004 $1926
2005 $2286
2006 $2286
2007 $2286
2008 $2286
2009 $2286
2010 $2358
2011 $2424
2012 $2472
2013 $2472
2014 $2478
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $2574
2004 $2916
2005 $3132
2006 $3132
2007 $3132
2008 $3240
2009 $3240
2010 $3240
2011 $3240
2012 $3240
2013 $3240
2014 $3246
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3317 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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