In the 18th and 19th centuries, a time of earth-shaking social change, museums first emerged. Amidst the downfall of European monarchies, the creation of the first department stores and the advent of the great world exhibitions, museums were popularized across the globe. Historically, some museums teach, some delight, some document, and others shock. What visitors may take for granted is that the individual histories of museums are often as varied and captivating as the collections they house.
Join us as we tour the weird and wonderful museums of the world—from iconic museums to cabinets of curiosity! Among others, we will visit the home of the 19th century artist, who, knowing he lacked any living relatives, designed his home to stand as his eternal living legacy—a time capsule that marries his work and process. Visit an invitation-only collection, hidden in a Canadian farmhouse, where the curiosities and oddities of popular culture of the late 19th and early 20th century rest peacefully. Experience an 18th century collection, where art and science collide, and earthly bodies are sculpted out of wax. Encounter a museum, based on a secret, smuggled collection of avant-garde art that was banned by the ruling dictator. Tour the aristocratic home of the prince who lived as a successful, practicing artist, hosting the iconic philosophers and artists that he called friends. Visit the collection of toppled monuments, dedicated to revolutionaries and dictators, displayed to contextualize the past and inform our present.
Stretching from Alberta through Europe to Asia, in each class we will virtually visit collections of art, natural history, politics, science and curiosities to uncover their jaw-dropping contents and fascinating histories. As the post-pandemic world begins to open, our learners may even discover their next favourite travel destinations!
Kimberly Johnson is an American art historian, currently teaching at the University of Alberta and NorQuest College. Kimberly regularly travels to Europe on research trips to give invited guest lectures and to present at conferences. She relishes every second she can spend inside a museum no matter where in the world she is.