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Curating plays an integral role in presenting art in contemporary culture—yet few outside its ranks exactly know what goes into the curation of a top-tier exhibit. This course provides an immersive encounter with curatorial practice in today’s art world, with an emphasis on curating contemporary art.

Through thoughtful analysis of what successful curating looks like, you will develop the skills needed to navigate the field, from understanding the role of the curator to planning an exhibition. Introduction to Curating discusses the history of curating as well as the day-to-day responsibilities of a curator and examines how a curator builds a museum-quality collection. This course also explores the way the field is changing and addresses the increasingly complex nature of exhibiting art.

What you will learn:

  • A familiarity with the nature of curatorial practice today, including different types of curators and the variety of spaces in which they work.
  • The critical components of putting together an exhibition, including how to write exhibition and tour proposals.
  • An understanding of how collections are built within and outside of museum spaces and how curators make acquisitions.
  • The ability to accurately write a wall text and extended object labels.
The Details
  • Course Dates

    Course Dates

    3 July - 13 August 2019
    6 weeks of instructor guidance

    We offer our online courses throughout the year with sessions starting every 4-6 weeks..
  • Faculty


    Alexandra Schwartz, Faculty, Online Courses
    Ph.D. and M.A., History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

    Alexandra Schwartz is a New York-based independent curator and scholar of modern and contemporary art. Her recent exhibitions include As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (Summer 2017), and American Histories at Pi Artworks, London (Fall 2016). Until 2016, she was the founding curator of contemporary art at the Montclair Art Museum. Her exhibition Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s toured nationally in 2015–16, and was accompanied by a major catalogue from the University of California Press. At Montclair she also organized exhibitions of Sanford Biggers, Jean Shin, Dannielle Tegeder, and Saya Woolfalk, among others; and spearheaded major commissions and acquisitions by artists including Mark Dion, Spencer Finch, Sheila Hicks, Hank Willis Thomas, and Kara Walker. Previously she was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. Her catalogues have twice won Awards for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators (2010 and 2016). Schwartz has taught at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, the School of Visual Arts, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Montclair State University, MoMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
  • Sample Topics

    Sample Topics

    Week 1: What is a Curator?

    • Overview of Curatorial Roles

    • A Brief History of the Field

    • Who Are Today’s Curators?

    Week 2: A Month in the Life of a Curator

    • Overview of Exhibition Design and Building

    • Beyond Exhibitions

    • Introductory Wall Text

    Week 3: How Does a Curator Put Together an Exhibition?

    • The Idea, the Pitch, and the Checklist

    • Types of Exhibitions and Planning

    Week 4: How Does a Curator Build a Collection?

    • Types of Collections and Collection Strategies

    • How Work is Acquired

    Week 5: What Skills are Required to Be Successful?

    • Fundraising and Grant Writing

    • Managing Budgets

    • Building Networks and Relationship

    • PR and Social Media

    Week 6: What is the Future of Curating?

    • Current Challenges in a Changing Field

    • How to Write and Extended Object Label

  • Getting Started

    Getting Started

    SIA Online Community, our learning and networking space, opens two weeks before the course begins. This space provides an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the learning platform and introduce yourself to fellow students from around the world.
  • Course Fees And Enrollment

    Course Fees And Enrollment


    Tuition includes 6 weeks of instructor guidance and an additional 90 days to review the course at your leisure.

    Terms and Conditions

    Online courses are open to anyone 18 years of age and older. Registration takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.

    Enroll Today
  • Certificate Of Completion

    Certificate Of Completion

    For each course successfully completed, you receive a verified Certificate of Completion from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

    Our digital certificates allow you to share new skills with various social media platforms, including LinkedIn. Successful completion is defined by each instructor in the course syllabus and consists, at the least, of regular, thoughtful participation in online activities and timely submission of assigned papers or projects.
  • Contact Information

    Contact Information

    For further information or course advisement, please contact:
    Hayley Black, Admissions Advisor, Non-Degree Programs
    Tel: 212-897-6644 or Request Information

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