This intensive and experiential program is designed to illuminate the history and theory of curatorial practice as well as the processes, procedures, and practical skills utilized by both curators and other professionals within the art world. Through a comprehensive series of lectures, seminars, workshops, and in-depth explorations of museums and galleries, students develop an intimate understanding of historical curatorial practices and their impact on the field today.
The program investigates a wide variety of approaches to curating, 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 artwork. Students also examine the role of the curator itself both inside and outside of the museum model, such as in art fairs and commercial spaces. Through a hands-on learning approach, students will examine key components and considerations of modern art museum and gallery curatorial practice, such as acquisitions and collecting, research, display methods, exhibition planning, conservation, and interpretation. The program also provides students with a window into the dynamic and often unseen professional networks and communities in the art world today. Students will go on a series of on-site and behind-the-scenes visits to art museums and galleries, learning directly from guest speakers working in public sector, non-profit , and art commercial institutions as curators, exhibition designers, documentation experts, conservators, collections registrars, and exhibition project managers as well as those involved in interpretation, publication, audience research, development, and marketing.
The program prepares students for a wide range of careers in the art world or for further study on one of our postgraduate programs. Students learn practical skills connected to evaluating and interpreting exhibition spaces and display methods, as well as and pitching a curatorial concept and exhibition package. Students are introduced to the chronological development of art museums and galleries from the 16th century to the 20th century and key developments in curating in the 20th and 21st centuries. Museum-level standards of object care and documentation, for both the public and commercial art world sectors, are also explored. For students without an art history background who are considering applying for a postgraduate program at Sotheby’s Institute, this Semester program provides a strong foundation in the history of the art museum and of curatorial practice to prepare them for postgraduate study.