Paul van der Grijp
Paul van der Grijp

This course deals with both private collectors and museums (and with elite as well as popular collections). It is illustrated with examples from various areas of the world, including Europe, Asia and the Pacific. Through collecting, private collectors can demonstrate their excellence in a competitive way. They not only rival one another, but sometimes compete with museums. The first two lectures deal with the configuration of (psychological, sociological, economic, and educational) motivations of private collectors as well as their eventual donations to museums. Such donations differ from bequests in wills to family members or close friends, in that they are given to the imagined community as a whole, which provides a “sacred” dimension to this kind of gift. The third and fourth lectures concern the changing models and messages of museums in Europe and China. In Europe, many national museums were been created during the last half of the nineteenth century with the particular aim to “civilize” the population within the context of the nation state – as was also the case in large parts of the non-Western world a century later, usually as part of the process of decolonisation. Case studies from China and Taiwan illustrate this development.

Special eligibility requirements

Bachelor degree in Social Anthropology or the equivalent in the social or cultural sciences. English B/English 6.


Submit your application to no later than May 28. Your application should include copies of previous study information.

Further information

Anthropology, Collecting, and Museification.

Please contact Anette Nyqvist, Director of studies, advanced level,


Monday June 2, 10:00 – 12:00
Ego-enlargement, Social Status and Profit of Collectors.
Tuesday June 3, 10:00 – 12:00
The Transmission of Knowledge via Collecting.
Wednesday June 4, 10:00 – 12:00
Anthropology, Aesthetics, and the Museums of Others.
Thursday June 5, 10:00 – 12:00
Models of Museums in China and Taiwan.

Indication of course literature

Pearce, Susan M. (1995) On Collecting: An Investigation into Collecting in the European Tradition. London: Routledge.
Plattner, Stuart (1996) High Art Down Home: An Economic Ethnography of a Local Art Market. Chicago: University of Chicago press.
Van der Grijp, Paul (2006) Passion and Profit: Towards an Anthropology of Collecting. (Comparative Anthropological Studies in Society, Cosmology and Politics 3). Berlin: Lit Verlag.
Van der Grijp, Paul (2009) Art and Exoticism: An Anthropology of the Yearning for Authenticity. (Comparative Anthropological Studies in Society, Cosmology and Politics 5). Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Form of examination

An essay in English on a topic related to the Anthropology of Art, Collecting and Museums (10 pages, interspace 1.5, including title page and bibliography). Deadline June 13.