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This full-time Semester program is designed for students considering future careers in art institutions, and offers a rich, comprehensive introduction to the fascinating world of art museums and galleries.

The program investigates a wide variety of 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 artwork. Through a hands-on learning approach, students will examine key components of modern art museum and gallery practice, such as acquisitions and collecting, collections management, display methods, exhibition planning, conservation, learning, and interpretation. The program will also provide students with a window into the dynamic and often unseen professional networks and art world communities.  Students will go on a series of on-site and behind-the-scenes visits to London art museums and galleries, learning directly from guest speakers working in art institutions as curators, 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 will learn practical skills and gain knowledge in:

  • Museum-level standards of object care and documentation, for both the public and commercial art world sectors
  • Pitching a curatorial concept and exhibition package to a panel through the experience of the Group Exhibition project
  • Writing for a range of needs in the field of museums and curating, such as exhibition wall text, loan letters, catalogue entries, and press releases
  • A foundational understanding of the history of the art museum and of curatorial practice to prepare students without an art history background, for a postgraduate program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art

The program requires no prior knowledge of the field. Download the Semester Prospectus.

The Details
  • Course Dates

    Course Dates

    Spring 2020: January 20, 2020 – May 1, 2020
    Fall 2020: September 7, 2020 – December 16, 2020
    For more information please contact or call T +44 (0)20 7462 3221.

    "[The course] introduced me to a variety of careers in the museum and gallery settings, which helped me develop a better idea of what career would be a good fit for me."
    —Megan Barzizza (Student)
    Hear from previous students about their experience with the course.
  • 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 encouraged to take both units consecutively but 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

    • Conservation in the museum and gallery

    • Museum expansions and ‘outposts’

    • Working with contemporary artists

    • The Modern Art Museum

    • Cultural property issues and repatriation claims

    • Institutional partnerships, funding 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 Amsterdamand 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

    • 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

    • National Portrait Gallery

    • Government Art Collection

    • Estorick Collection

    • Florence Trust

    • Blythe House

    • National Gallery

    • Frieze Art Fair, London

  • 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:

    Thalia Allington-Wood Senior Producer, Victoria & Albert Museum
    Susanna Avery-QuashSenior Research Curator at the National Gallery
    Adriano Aymonino –Curator, Sir John Soane Museum
    Martin Barnes – Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
    Penny Bendall – Ceramics Conservator.
    Glenn Benson – Manager, Blythe House

    Emma Cousin – Artist and curator
    Sarah Hilliam – Deputy Director of Development at Royal Academy

    Carmen Holdsworth-Delgado – Curator at the Garrick Collection, formerly Assistant Curator at the Wallace Collection.
    Bernard Horrocks – Intellectual Property Manager, Tate.
    Rachel Jacobs – Curator at Waddeson Manor, Aylesbury.

    Christine Lalumia – Lecturer, curator and specialist on twentieth century design.
    Francis Marshall – Senior Curator at the Museum of London.
    Rab McGibbon – Associate Curator at the National Portrait Gallery

    Julie Molloy – Managing Director of the National Gallery Company.
    Alice Odin – Oak Foundation Young People’s Program 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 – Head of Collection and Program, Kettle’s Yard University of Cambridge.
    Hannah Redler – Freelance curator of digital art and Associate Curator in Residence at the Open Data Institute.
    Alyson Rolington – Exhibitions and Collections Manager for ARTIST ROOMS
    Pierre Saurisse – Lecturer, specialist on performance art.
    Minnie Scott – Curator of Interpretation at Tate.
    Penelope Sexton – Curator, Compton Verney

    Eliza Tan –Lecturer, specialist in contemporary, Japanese and East Asian art.
    Marine Tanguy – CEO, MTArt Agency

    Alis Templeton – Consultant, curatorial and visitor evaluation.
  • 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

    Spring 2020: 
    Full-time: £8,500
    Part-time: £4,400
    Trip abroad: £990
    Fall 2019: 
    Full-time: £8,800
    Part-time: £4,500
    Trip abroad: £1,040
    Click here to read Terms and Conditions.
    Click here to apply.
  • Contact And Request Information

    Contact And Request Information

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

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