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Teaching and Learning Showcase
Dublin: Its Museums and Collectors - New Elective Developed

Module Title:

Dublin: Its Museums and Collectors

Module Coordinator:

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Module Code:


In universities with a strong array of elective offerings, art history is often one of the most popular subjects taken by non-majors because many students see learning more about art as enhancing the quality of their lives, regardless of what career they plan to pursue. The city of Dublin has an excellent infrastructure of museums, and many students who do not chose to major in art history, are interested in learning more about their contents. The module is especially appropriate for JYA and Erasmus visitors to Dublin, who may also be unfamiliar with the history of Ireland and of its art.


These were twofold. First, we sought to broaden the public for Dublin’s museums and for museums in general by educating a lay audience to better appreciate their collections. Second, we sought to make students more aware of the basic outlines of the history of art.

The Innovative Approach:

This was the first time the UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy had offered a general elective. It was also the first time we had offered a module that surveyed the extent of the holdings of Dublin’s major museums. The main pedagogical innovation was the flexibility of the assignments. Five essay topics were given. Each student had to answer three. This allowed students from across a number of subjects to decide when to complete the assigned work depending on what other deadlines they were facing.


Capacity in art history increased by sixty students. Excerpts from student comments include the following:

"I now have a good understanding of the buildings and their collections and enjoy visiting in my free time."

"I gained valuable knowledge and appreciation of the collections here in Dublin."

"It gave me an appreciation for the galleries and establishments being studied that I would previously not have gained from merely visiting the collections around the city."

"I loved learning about all the different types of art and really appreciated that it was a beginner module for interest. "