On May 7, 2016, Professor Thomas Laqueur with the help of graduate assistant Olivia Benowitz took his History 24 freshman seminar, which has been studying the museums of Berkeley—BAM, the Magnes, the Bancroft, the Jepson Herbarium, the Hearst Anthropology Museum, the Essig Museum of Entomology, among others—on a field trip for the day to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles: early out of Oakland, late back from LAX.
Three curators, including Elliot Kai-Kee, a PhD History alumnus, gave us special tours of the collections and the Maplethrope show, and discussed with us in depth one painting. The seminar had the opportunity of talking informally with the curators at lunch. All of this was made possible by the research funds Professor Laqueur was given by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education to teach a Freshman Seminar in addition to his regular course load.
Museums of Berkeley
Instructor: Thomas W. Laqueur
Location: 3104 DWINELLE
Day & Time: W 200-400
This seminar is about museums in general and the rich museums of Berkeley in particular. Students will be introduced to the history of museums, to social policy questions relating to them, and to some current political debates about collections (the status of Native American artifacts, for example). The core of this seminar however is a series of museum visits that will be led by the instructor and by curators in each venue. We will go to the Berkeley Art Museum, the Pacific Film Archive, the Berkeley Botanical Garden, the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Hearst Museum, the Bancroft, the paleontology and insect collections in VLSB, and the Magnes museum. Our last meeting will be dinner and a tour of the SF Moma if it is open again by then or top another SF museum. No reading outside class is required.
Thomas Laqueur is a cultural historian who has written on the history of education, religion, medicine, human rights and working class politics as well as, more recently, on sexuality (two books) and on questions of memory and memorialization. His most recent book is called The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Human Remains.