Assignment: Catalogue Entry

This final assignment requires you to organize your research within the format of a 5- to 7-page entry on a single object in a museum catalogue. While 5 to 7 pages may be slightly longer than many catalogue entries, the extended length is designed for you to accommodate the bulk of your research and discoveries about your object, while also gaining the experience of writing a catalogue entry.

An entry in the published catalogue of an institutional collection or of a temporary exhibition is a very precise type of document. It should identify an object as thoroughly and accurately as possible, while also providing a summary discussion, including, in this case, a thesis or argument specific to the object in question. The entry usually consists of several discrete parts:

  1. A list of the title, artist, date, nationality, size, materials, and acquisition number;
  2. A description of the object;
  3. A narrative commentary, or short essay, about the object;
  4. A list of the object’s provenance;
  5. A bibliography of all sources that discuss this exact object;
  6. A list of all exhibitions that have included this exact object;
  7. Footnotes, as needed, for any of the above;
  8. At least one image of the object; 1-3 additional images may be included to show details or comparisons. All objects illustrated must be referenced in the text.

The narrative commentary is the crux of this assignment. It should be structured as a short essay, with a thesis, topic sentences, and footnotes. It should provide information on the object’s historical, stylistic, and/or biographical context. Depending on the information available, this might include: a concise discussion of the maker’s career and the object’s place within it; a discussion of the object’s function, its iconography, its materials, its style, or its intended owners; aspects of the object that are characteristic of its maker’s style or of its historical era; or other aspects of its history. You will not to be able to discuss every aspect of your object, nor is this necessarily a summary of your presentation. Your narrative should convey the most specific and documentable information that you have found about your object, and should exclude hypothetical interpretations. Keep in mind, however, that your “documentation” may be demonstrated through formal analysis and comparisons, in addition to or instead of archival materials


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