cod. 1010225

Academic year 2023/24
3° year of course - Second semester
- Federica VERATELLI
Academic discipline
Museologia e critica artistica e del restauro (L-ART/04)
Discipline relative ai beni storico-archeologici e artistici, archivistici e librari, demoetnoantropologici e ambientali
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit


Learning objectives

The course aims to provide the student, within the framework of the European Descriptors for Bachelor's Degrees (Dublin descriptors: First cycle - European Qualification Framework Level 6), with the tools to develop knowledge and understanding in the area of the history of the provenance of works of art, its role, purpose, state-of-the-art methodologies and related best practices in the management of public and private collections (1° Descriptor - Knowledge and understanding).
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

• demonstrate, by applying knowledge and understanding, to be professionally able to solve through the creation of arguments, different kinds of issues in the field of the history of the provenance of works of art (2° Descriptor - Applying knowledge and understanding);
• have the ability to independently collect, catalog and understand information and data on the provenance of works of art, including reflection on social, scientific or ethical issues related to them (3° Descriptor - Making judgements);
• communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions posed by research in the area of the history of the provenance of works of art to both specialist and non-specialist audiences (4° Descriptor - Communication skills);
• develop additional learning skills necessary to undertake further study with a high degree of autonomy in the area of artworks provenance research (5° Descriptor - Learning skills).

The minimum threshold of learning is defined as the student's ability to independently set up and develop research on the provenance history of a work of art, collecting and compiling the appropriate and necessary information for its proper presentation within a public or private collection.


Basic knowledge in the areas of museology and collecting history and related basic terminology and, possibly, an elementary level of English are required.

Course unit content

Researching the provenance of an individual work of art from the time of its creation, including the history of its ownership, is an essential component of collecting and museum practices. The obligation to study the provenance of collections is explicitly formulated in the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Code of Museum Ethics as an essential part of the scientific mission of the museum. The various methodologies related to provenance research are also able to shed light on the historical, social and economic context and critical fortune of an artwork, revealing the compelling story behind the work itself, including the taste of the collector or the history of the acquisition and dispersal of entire collections. Due to the recent development of provenance research activities of works of art in various institutions and museum facilities in European and non-European countries, (following Nazi and colonialist requisitions and restitution practices, and in accordance with the fight against the illegal circulation of cultural property during contemporary armed conflicts), the course aims to provide the student with the basic knowledge of provenance history through the methods, tools and approaches used in different cultural contexts and applied to specific case studies.

Full programme

• The history of provenance: an introduction.
• The history, role, purpose, and challenges of provenance research.
• Provenance history and best practices.
• The role of provenance in the museum and art market.
• History of provenance: case studies 'in context'.


Attending students

Subject matter:

• A DIGITAL DOSSIER: which contains the PowerPoints presented and commented on during the lectures (available at the end of the course, and not before, on the Elly DUSIC distance learning platform; please note that the ppt is a supplementary tool for study and not a substitute for the reference texts in the exam program);
• THE REFERENCE BOOK: Provenance. An alternate history of art, ed. by G. Feigenbaum, Inge Reist, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, 2012 (commented in Italian during the course);
• ARTICLES AND SHORT ESSAYS: related to the case studies covered in the lectures; this material will be available on Elly in PDF, along with the DIGITAL DOSSIER, at the end of the course.

Non-attending students

Non-attending students should add to the bibliography for attending students the reading of:

• F. Haskell, The Ephemeral Museum. Old Master Paintings and the rise of Art Exhibitions, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000.

Erasmus and Foundation Year students
Erasmus and Foundation Year students are asked to get in touch with the lecturer for a program tailored to their needs.

Do you have any doubts?
For any further guidance on the bibliography, students are requested to come to office-hours (in-person and online). Response to questions sent via e-mail or other platform (Teams, etc.) is not always assured. Relying on WhatsApp group chats is not always the optimal solution for exam success.

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures, with PowerPoint projections (sources, works of art, video, documentaries). Powerpoint slideshows containing images and sources shown during frontal lessons are available at the end of the course on the platform for blended learning Elly DUSIC.

Assessment methods and criteria

** Given the high number of students and related organizational problems, no additional exams dates will be granted. Students are therefore advised to view the dates and arrange accordingly. After registering for the exam, cancellation for that exam is possible by emailing the teacher **

Oral exam.
The exam (20 minutes max) concerns the entire course and aims to test the student knowledge on the first part and on the second part of the course.
Students who don't attend the classes on regular basis must refer to the list of recommended reading.

In Italian Universities grades are given on the basis of 30 points (30/30). When the student's performance is considered outstanding, laude can be added. The minimum passing grade is 18/30. Grades below 18 are a failure and are not registered.
A failure is determined by 1. a lack of understanding of the basic content of the course; 2. the inability to express oneself adequately; 3. by a lack of autonomous preparation; 4. the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and its decoding; 5. the inability in making judgements independently.
The minimum passing grade (18-23/30) is ascribed when the student's performance is acceptable, according to the 5 evaluation indicators expressed above. Middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to students who show more than a sufficient level (24-25/30) or a good level (26-27/30) according to the 5 evaluation indicators expressed above. High scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are assigned to students who show a very good or an excellent level according to the 5 evaluation indicators expressed above.

Other information

The History of provenance is a relatively young discipline, so most of the bibliography used is in English, but that will be commented on and translated during the lectures. Attendance is therefore strongly recommended for this course.

For any further information please contact the teacher during the Office hour (https://personale.unipr.it/it/ugovdocenti/person/186653).