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This full-time program offers a rich, intense and comprehensive introduction to the fascinating world of art museums. It is designed for students considering future careers in art museums and art galleries. The program investigates a wide variety approaches to the subject, from the largest questions about art museums’ and galleries’ social and cultural roles, to issues concerning the presentation and interpretation of art objects within them. Students explore current debates about art museums and galleries in the context of the history of collecting, care and exhibition of works of art from the sixteenth-century onwards. Key components of modern art museum and gallery practice, such as acquisitions and collecting, collections management, display methods, exhibition planning, conservation, learning and interpretation are examined. The approach is practical, direct and hands-on.

Through the prism of historic and contemporary practice, the programme also considers the position of the gallery curator at the centre of a complex and fluid network of professionals. It will explore the dynamic working relationships that are so fundamental within museums and galleries, and provide students with a window into these vital and otherwise unseen communities.

London, one of the world’s great museum capitals, is our laboratory. Approaching the subject from the distinctive perspective of Sotheby’s Institute, the programme includes a series of on-site and behind-the-scenes visits to London art museums and galleries, both public and commercial. These visits enable students to gain first-hand experience of exhibition spaces, which will be compared and contrasted with examples from Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East. With a wide variety of guest speakers presenting talks on their own roles in museums and galleries, students will benefit from the knowledge and experience not only of curators, but also conservators, collections registrars, and exhibition project managers as well as those involved in interpretation, publication, audience research, development and marketing.

The program requires no prior knowledge of the field.

The Details
  • Course Dates

    Course Dates

    Fall 2018: 10th September - 19th December, 2018.
    Spring 2019: 21st January to 3rd May, 2019.

  • Structure, Teaching Methods And Assignments

    Structure, Teaching Methods And Assignments

    The program is divided into two units taught consecutively across the semester. The first unit focuses on Historic Museums and Galleries and the second unit explores Modern Galleries and Contemporary Exhibition Spaces. Students are able to take one of the units only, if preferred, or to take both units across different semesters.

    The teaching approach emphasizes site-based learning and is delivered through a series of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and visits which are fundamental elements of this program. Through the visits and the extensive contacts with curators and other professionals, students gain practical understandings in the analysis of museums and exhibition spaces.

    Assessment is designed to test visual, analytical and critical skills as well as the particular skills valued in a variety of museum and gallery professions, including but not limited to curating. For example, students undertake a group project in which they take on different museum roles in order to curate and deliver their own imagined exhibition or display.

    Click here to download a printable version.
  • Sample Topics

    Sample Topics

    • Histories of art collecting and display

    • Curating historic and contemporary art objects

    • Professional roles in art museums and galleries

    • Museum education

    • Universal Survey Museums

    • Museum expansions and ‘outposts’

    • The Modern Art Museum

    • Cultural property issues and repatriation claims

    • Institutional partnerships and sponsorship

  • Field Trips And Study Visits

    Field Trips And Study Visits

    First-hand encounters with art works and exhibition spaces are an integral part of the learning experience and key to this program. London is a major centre for art collections and art institutions alike, and faculty-led visits to museums and galleries are fundamental to the framework of the program. There are also day trips to venues such as Oxford (Pitt Rivers, Ashmolean, MAO), Chichester (Pallant House Gallery and Chichester Cathedral) and Aylesbury (Waddesdon Manor).

    A European field trip features visits to a large range of major art institutions. Currently this trip is scheduled to take place in Amsterdam and The Hague, where students will visit the Rijksmuseum (newly opened after a ground-breaking, ten-year renovation project), the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Caldic Collection and the Gemeente Museum.

    Sample site visits in London:

    • British Museum

    • Victoria and Albert Museum

    • The Wallace Collection

    • Sir John Soane’s Museum

    • The Geffrye Museum

    • Asia House

    • Tate Modern and Tate Britain

    • The Courtauld Gallery

    • The Whitechapel Gallery

    • Institute of Contemporary Arts

    • The Design Museum

    • Guildhall Art Gallery

    • The Queen’s House and Royal Museums, Greenwich

    • Palace of Westminster Art Collection

    • London Art Fair (Islington)

  • Credits And Validation

    Credits And Validation

    The program is validated by The University of Manchester, one of the UK’s leading universities. Students who complete the program successfully will gain 60 University of Manchester undergraduate credits.

    This generally translates to 16 undergraduate credits or 12 graduate in the US system and 30 credits in the European (ECTS) system. Students currently enrolled at other colleges or universities should be aware that transfer of credit is always made at the discretion of the accepting institution. Therefore, applicants should confirm the feasibility of credit transfer with faculty advisors at their home school in advance of registration.
  • Faculty


    Dr Lilian Cameron - Course Leader

    Visiting lecturers have included:

    Peter Allen – Marketing and Branding Manager at the Londonewcastle Street Art Program.
    Charlotte Appleyard – Deputy Director of Development, Royal Academy of Arts in London.
    Anne Bancroft – Senior Book and Paper Conservator, V&A Museum.
    Clare Barlow – Assistant Curator, National Portrait Gallery.
    Valerie Blyth – Preventive Conservator at the V&A Museum.
    Rachel Boak – Senior Curator at Waddeson Manor, Aylesbury.
    Justin Hammond Curator of the Catlin Art Prize.
    Sally Herd – Program and Content Manager, Asia House.
    Bernard Horrocks – Intellectual Property Manager, Tate.
    Helen Jacobs – Project Manager, Wallace Collection.
    Pamela Kember – Heads of Art and Learning, Asia House.
    Robert Knifton  Postdoctoral Researcher on Visual and Material Cultural Research Centre, Kingston University London.
    Maria Marro-Perera Public relations and social media consultant.
    Francis Marshall  Senior Curator at the Museum of London.
    Julie Molloy – Managing Director of the National Gallery Company.
    Katie Nairne  Exhibition Co-ordinator, The Forgiveness Project.
    Alice Odin  Oak Foundation Young People’s Programme Coordinator, The Courtauld Institute of Art.
    Katty Pearce – Curator, Guildhall Art Gallery.
    Renée Pfister– Founder of Art & Gallery Consultancy.
    Helena Pickup – Lecturer, specialist in French Decorative Arts.
    Jenny Powell – Senior Curator, Kettle’s Yard University of Cambridge.
    James Ratcliffe – Director of Recoveries and General Counsel at the Art Loss Register.
    Anna Reynolds – Curator of Paintings at the Royal Collection Trust.
    Oliver Rickard – Director, System Simulation.
    Alis Templeton – Consultant, curatorial sector.
    Oliver Winchester – Curator, Design Museum.
    Sarah Younger – Client Project Manager, Tate Millbank Project.

  • Admission To The Program

    Admission To The Program

    There are no formal admission requirements except a good level of English language competence (a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 or TOEFL score of 78 IBT). Although no prior knowledge is required, the Institute offers places to motivated students with a passion for art and the art world. Applicants are interviewed in person or by phone. Our students are of all ages and come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. The international make-up of the student body at Sotheby’s Institute of Art generates a rich and dynamic learning environment.

  • Program Fees

    Program Fees

    Fall 2018:
    Full-time: £8,250
    Part-time: £4,225

    Spring 2019:
    Full-time: £8,250
    Part-time: £4,225

    These fees are exclusive of the cost of the Amsterdam study trip. Amsterdam travel cost: £950

    Click here to apply.
  • Contact And Request Information

    Contact And Request Information

    For further information, please contact:
    Benjamin Stephenson Admissions or Request Information
    T +44 (0)20 7462 3221

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