Richard Saunders

Director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art; Walter Cerf Distinguished College Professor

Phone: work802.443.5235
Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00 pm-3:00 pm or by appt.
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Richard Saunders has been at Middlebury since 1985. His areas of expertise are art of the United States and the history of the art museum.

He received degrees from Bowdoin College (B.A.), the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware (M.A.), and Yale University (M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.).



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FYSE 1359 - The American Art Museum      

The American Art Museum
Americans are awash in a sea of art. Only some of it, however, finds its way into museums where it is seen in temporary exhibits or permanent collections. Who decides what gets in or stays out? Why do museums have most of their collections hidden away? What roles do auction houses, art dealers, and collectors play? What determines the monetary value of art? In this seminar we will probe answers to these questions and create an exhibit of objects that tells us much about ourselves but is unlikely ever to be seen in a museum. Our primary text will be The Art Museum From Boullée to Bilbao by Andrew McClellan. 3 hrs sem.


Spring 2012

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HARC 0248 - Gold/Sex/Death at the Museum      

Gold, Sex, and Death at the Museum
Most visitors to museums notice the architecture, carefully chosen collections, and meticulously curated special exhibitions. However, behind this façade is a busy network of museum professionals coordinating every aspect of the institution’s life. Through readings and guest lectures, we will explore how directors, curators, and staff navigate the challenges facing the modern museum, such as establishing acquisitions policies in an increasingly uncertain art market, defining ethical standards for conservation, and addressing audiences with ever-changing needs. Speakers such as a curator, art critic, and conservator will contribute to our discussion, and attendance at a series of public talks is required. 3 hrs. lect./disc.


Fall 2012, Fall 2013

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HARC 0409 - Art Museums: Theory & Practice      

Art Museums: Theory and Practice
American museums are more complex places than simple collections of objects on display. This course provides an intensive introduction to that world. Participants are made aware of the history of the art museum and its role in American life. The overall orientation of the course is with practical problems and the diverse nature of museum issues. Topics include: politics and censorship, patronage, collections, ethics, conservation, connoisseurship, installation design, and the art market. Students work on the development of an exhibit for the Museum. The course will have a seminar format with an emphasis on discussion, research papers, and field trips. 3 hrs. sem.

Spring 2011

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HARC 0510 - Advanced Studies      

Advanced Studies
Supervised independent work in art history. (Approval Required)

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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HARC 0540 - Independent Museum Studies      

Supervised Independent Work in Museum Studies
This practicum builds upon the Museum Assistants Program (MAP), the hands-on museum education program at the Middlebury College Museum of Art. In MAP, the Curator of Education trains students to conduct tours of the Museum’s permanent collection and of special exhibitions for audiences of peers, school groups, and the general public. Combining service learning with the opportunity to both support and learn more about the arts, students gain expertise in public speaking, art history, and public programming. To register for this course students have completed two semesters of MAP. The class will culminate with a public presentation on a museum-related topic evaluated by a faculty member of the Department of History of Art & Architecture. (Approval required; HARC 0100 or HARC 0102, and two semesters of MAP)

Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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HARC 0711 - Qualif. Paper/Resrch/Writing      

Qualifying Paper, Research, & Writing
This course is a continuation of HARC 0710 which consists of ongoing, supervised independent research with an advisor, plus organizing, writing, and presenting a qualifying paper, which will be due on a Friday, two weeks before the end of classes. (HARC 0301 and HARC 0710)

Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Winter 2015

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HARC 0761 - Senior Thesis: Museum Studies      

Qualifying Paper Research Seminar
This course is a continuation of HARC 0710, which consists of ongoing, supervised independent work with an advisor, plus organizing, writing, and presenting a curatorial or museum-based thesis or exhibition. (Approval Required)

Spring 2014, Winter 2015

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