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The MA in Curatorial Practice offers a preliminary boot camp that begins in late summer as part of its first semester, introducing fundamentals of research methodologies and conceptual thinking, followed in the full four semesters of the program with rigorous practical and intellectual training. The course work is designed to offer macro and micro views of the field, with the study of different curatorial histories across disciplines, constant practical exercises in curatorial craft, and engagement with working curators and other experts across disciplines and from around the world.

The curriculum is founded on a series of case study seminars; writing workshops; practicums in every aspect of exhibition-making and other forms of knowledge presentation; and programmatic engagements with curators, artists, and experts who will meet with the students as a group and on an individual basis. Students will also take two semesters of art practice in their first year to have a hands-on experience of what it is to engage in the production of art.

In their second year, students will enter into an internship/mentorship program, while they begin work on their curatorial plan for a final exhibition project. Internships will happen with New York institutions and also with national and international partners. Students will have the enormous resources at their disposal of more than 20 graduate programs at SVA to draw work and collaborators from. These projects can take many forms and are encouraged to address interdisciplinary practices, as befits the expanded field of curatorial platforms today. The Curatorial Practice program will not only house exhibitions within SVA but will partner with institutions so that curatorial candidates’ final projects are exhibited throughout New York and in virtual space.

Degree candidates must successfully complete 50 credits, including all required courses, while maintaining a high level of academic and practical performance as judged by faculty and mentors. In their fourth and final semester, students will present their culminating exhibition and an accompanying catalogue that meet professional standards in order to be granted the Masters degree in curatorial practice. Applicants with a prior background in curatorial work are especially encouraged, as are art historians and artists whose enterprises are relevant to advanced work in the curatorial field.

Degree Requirements 

• Successful completion of 50 credits, including all required courses, academic and administrative requirements, class attendance, class and group participation and individual internship. 

• Successful completion of the curatorial project and essay approved by the Review Committee. Documentation of all thesis projects must be on file in the Curatorial Practice Department to be eligible for degree conferral. 

• A matriculation of two academic years. Students must complete their degree within four years, unless given an official extension by the provost. 

• Students are required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) in order to remain in good academic standing. 

Note: Departmental requirements are subject to change by the department chair if the chair deems that such change is warranted.

First-Year Requirements

CPG-5040  Practicum 1: Research Methodologies
CPG-5070  Practicum 2: Logic and Rhetoric
CPG-5120  Case Study Seminar 1: Exhibition History
CPG-5140  Case Study Seminar 2: Curating Digital Art—From Network and Gallery to Public Space
CPG-5160  Philosophy and Social Thought Seminar: Curatorial Practice, Body and World
CPG-5190  Curatorial Roundtable 1: Visiting International Curators Program
CPG-5220  Workshop in Critical Writing 1: Curatorial Analysis
CPG-5230  Workshops in Professional Practices
CPG-5250  Art Practice
CPG-5540  Case Study Seminar 3: Models of Thinking—Curating a Program
CPG-5570  Case Study Seminar 4: Creative Class Warfare
CPG-5580  Case Study Seminar 5: History as Commodity—On the Contemporary
CPG-5590  Case Study Seminar 6: Curating the Interdisciplinary
PG-5640  Practicum 3: Exhibition-Making
CPG-5680  Curatorial Roundtable 2: Visiting International Curators Program
CPG-5720  Workshop in Critical Writing 2: Curatorial Analysis   

Exhibitions Requirements: First Year

For the CP Projects Space exhibition, an exhibition plan must be presented to the program chair for approval. This includes the following components: a full description in writing of the concept of the exhibition, a checklist of artists and the works to be included in the exhibition, an installation plan of the works in the CP Projects Space, a budget for the exhibition, all wall labels for works, a wall text that summarizes the exhibition for viewers and a press release. Installation and deinstallation of the exhibition must be successfully completed by the curatorial fellow. All requirements are to be fulfilled with the oversight of the Practicum 3: Exhibition-Making instructor (as stated in the description for CPG-5640, Practicum 3: Exhibition-Making). 

Second-Year Requirements

CPG-6120  Case Study Seminar 7: Performance and Institutions
CPG-6130  Case Study Seminar 8: Spaces
CPG-6190  Artists Roundtable  
CPG-6320  Practicum 4: Other Disciplines and Formats  
CPG-6350  Internship and Fieldwork Program
CPG-6420  Independent Curatorial Plan
CPG-6590  Curatorial Roundtable 3: Visiting International Curators Program
CPG-6610  Workshop in Critical Writing 3: The Catalog Essay  
CPG-6890  Final Exhibition/Curatorial Project

Final Curatorial Project Requirements: Second Year

For the final curatorial project, all requirements are to be fulfilled with the oversight of the program chair and the Review Committee (as stated in the description for CPG-6890, Final Exhibition/Curatorial Project). All components must be completed in order to receive chair approval and be eligible for degree conferral.


General Course Listing


Practicum 1: Research Methodologies
Fall semester: 1.5 credits
In this practicum, students will examine basic art-historical research methods through scholarly investigation of a curator (historical or contemporary). Working independently and in collaboration to seed a database on the topic, students will seek out and visit primary and secondary source collections in the New York City area, demonstrate investigative skills and present their research in the form of a database contribution and a brief presentation. 

Practicum 2: Logic and Rhetoric
Fall semester: 1.5 credits
This practicum will be a formal introduction to logic and rhetoric, founded in the classical canon. It is commonplace in art practices to talk about “conceptualism” and the concepts that are the basis of works of art, particularly in the post-Duchampian era. However, the foundational ideas of what concepts are and the way logical structures and rhetorical arguments undergird the formation and expression of a concept is largely unexamined. Through readings and exercises, students will examine logical rules for concepts, classification and definition, as well as how to construct arguments using Aristotelian syllogistic logic and modern symbolic systems. By acquainting students with the basics of logic and rhetoric, this course will provide a background that will help curatorial practitioners rigorously address the practice of concept formation as it relates to artists’ works and to their own formulations of exhibitions and other curatorial expressions. 

Case Study Seminar 1: Exhibition History
Fall semester: 2 credits
How is art presented to the broad public? What are the origins of exhibition making, and with what intentions has it been carried out? How have governments, nonprofit cultural organizations, extra-institutional entities, independent curators, and artists dealt with public exhibitions, and at whose initiative were/are they organized? This course is conceived to consider a range of exhibitions and public initiatives to understand how exhibitions have evolved from the earliest biennials (beginning with the Venice Biennial in 1895, the Carnegie International and Documenta) to community and locally-based public art initiatives that have impacted and have been responsive to the public’s expectations around their reception of exhibitions. The focus of the course will move between the international and local institutional models on a larger scale, to more ephemeral and experimental approaches to exhibition making, emphasizing how the production of exhibitions has shifted as the role of the curator has expanded. 

Case Study Seminar 2: Curating Digital Art—From Network and Gallery to Public Space
Fall semester: 1 credit
This course gives an overview of curatorial models for digital art, ranging from approaches to online exhibitions to models for presenting (networked) digital art in museums and galleries, at festivals or in outdoor spaces. The curation of digital art is now commonly understood as an engagement with a variety of aspects of the production, presentation and reception of the work of art. Through weekly case studies and readings, students engage with challenges of and best practices for the presentation of digital art in various contexts; audience engagement and educational materials; organizational structures and funding as well as exhibition documentation. The exhibition history of digital art and changes that have occurred in presenting the work throughout the decades will also be discussed. 

Philosophy and Social Thought Seminar: Curatorial Practice, Body and World
Fall semester: 1 credit
In a well-curated exhibition, one can “feel” that something has been done right (or wrong) through the exchange between the body, the objects in the exhibition space, and the space itself. Understanding this relationship is crucial for curatorial practice, and this seminar offers a philosophical framework for thinking it through rigorously and critically. The phenomenological movement has made perhaps the most important contribution to this discussion, and we will engage various accounts of the body and its relationship to space and the world along with excursions into memory theory, the philosophy of technology, feminist theory, and speculative materialism. Note that this is a philosophy course, not an art history, or curating course. Yet the subject of the course should bear directly on your practice as a curator: as every participant in an exhibition immediately enters into this unspoken relationship, the curator must be conscious of the manner in which perception, consciousness, objects, and space are dynamically intertwined. 

Curatorial Roundtable 1: Visiting International Curators Program
Fall semester: 3 credits
Every week a curator or institution director visits to discuss a current project. The presenters come from all over the world, work across all disciplines and represent different kinds of institutions and practices. The format is informal and intimate; each presentation is followed by a reception that allows students to interact with guests and develop a growing professional network. 

Workshop in Critical Writing 1: Curatorial Analysis
Fall semester: 1 credit
Each week students must write a 500-word review as a curatorial analysis of a museum exhibition that gives ample evidence of the curatorial argument for the show, aspects of exhibition design that clearly manifest the argument, and other manifestations (catalogue, online presence, conference, workshops) worth noting. This is a good way to visit museum exhibitions on a weekly basis in the city and learn to analyze exhibitions for their curatorial work—not for the art itself, but for the presentation of the art. Each review must exhibit clean writing, strong argument, and proper use of syntax, grammar and punctuation. 

Workshops in Professional Practices
Fall semester: 1 credit
These intensive weekly workshops address a variety of technical and professional skills, ranging from installation and lighting design to making effective presentations. The focus of the workshops is to prepare students with basic understandings of skills they will need themselves as curators or to be able to more effectively work with professional collaborators in curatorial settings. 

Art Practice
Fall semester: no credit
The Curatorial Practice program intends to fully immerse its students in the world in which they will advance their careers as professional curators. Central to this world are the artists whose works provide the content of exhibitions and other curatorial projects. In order to fully value this work, students will try their hands as art practitioners by enrolling in a studio art course of their choosing at the undergraduate level (unless otherwise approved for graduate level). Ongoing critiques by their instructor and classmates will be given. By the end of the course, students will have a deeper understanding of the techniques, materials, conceptual challenges and risks of being a working artist. This will contribute directly to their curatorial practices and collaborations with artists. 

Case Study Seminar 3: Models of Thinking—Curating a Program
Spring semester: 1 credit
This course takes as its starting point an expanded notion of what curating is. Beyond just exhibition making, there are numerous ways in which a curatorial practice takes shape. Together we’ll explore the notion of “programming” as a way to understand how, why and for whom contemporary art exists and is shaped by curators, contexts and constituents. Through site visits we will observe and interrogate firsthand a range of ways that programming responds to different ideals and realities, to the discourse of contemporary art itself, as well as to diverse artists and audiences. 

Case Study Seminar 4: Creative Class Warfare
Spring semester: 1 credit
This course revisits Richard Florida’s best-selling book, The Rise of the Creative Class, as a crucial ideological document. Through close reading of Florida’s infamous book alongside recent analyses of the creative/culture industries, each student will be asked to develop a single ongoing case study from their own research or familiar localities. Group discussions will reflect upon the utility of global-scale art production and exhibition for political or promotional ends in a more general sense. The course aims to prompt students to individually identify strategies for internalizing or opposing the industrialization of art and creativity through knowledge of its application within various historical, political, and economic scenes. 

Case Study Seminar 5: History as Commodity—On the Contemporary
Spring semester: 1 credit
The purpose of this course is to understand contemporary art as a distinct historical period and why the closing of this period seems marked by the threat of imminent catastrophe. It is not a coincidence that this has also been a time marked by the reformatting and redeployment of history and historical tropes on the one hand, but also a shift in the use of memory and progressive thinking towards economic and informational ends. How have inertia and cyclical time been redeployed in the contemporary period as the time of finance and of the museum? This course looks at historical precedents and theoretical formulations to better understand how these changes have come about, but also takes for granted that their effects are becoming increasingly bizarre—demanding that we cast a very wide and often scattershot net across many disciplines in order to make sense of their movements. 

Case Study Seminar 6: Curating the Interdisciplinary
Spring semester: 1 credit
This course will address working across formats in interdisciplinary programming, including the visual arts, dance, music, performance, video and film. Using The Kitchen for this case study seminar, we will examine historical and contemporary developments to produce an integrated curatorial practice for diverse audiences. Time in the classroom will be spent addressing practical considerations and relevant intellectual concerns. 

Practicum 3: Exhibition-Making
Spring semester: 3 credits
This practicum is required for all first-year students to review the fundamentals of traditional exhibition-making. The course offers participants a platform for debate, exploration and experimentation in curatorial practice, and encourages interdisciplinary thinking as a way of addressing the expanded role of the curator beyond the traditional art world nexus. With the guidance of the lead instructor and the participation of visiting experts in areas discussed, students will consider practical issues of curating, such as studio visits with artists, exhibition planning and related software, exhibition design and installation, lighting, art handling, transportation and insurance, registration and condition reports, all aspects of budgeting, commissioning and fundraising, as well as such topics as ancillary program development, exhibition outreach and marketing, online development, tools and methods of documentation, and de-installation. 

Curatorial Roundtable 2: Visiting International Curators Program
Spring semester: 3 credits
Every week a curator or institution director visits to discuss a current project. The presenters come from all over the world, work across all disciplines and represent different kinds of institutions and practices. The format is informal and intimate; each presentation is followed by a reception that allows students to interact with guests and develop a growing professional network. 

Workshop in Critical Writing 2: Curatorial Analysis
Spring semester: 2 credits
In this course students will write reviews of exhibitions or other curatorial ventures, with emphasis on their curatorial aspects. These reviews are critiqued in a workshop setting, refining students’ writing and analytical skills. As one of the goals of the program is to make its candidates highly professional explicators of their ideas, this workshop will improve students’ ability in written communication. Writing well, however, means thinking clearly and so this course is equally about honing students’ ability to organize and express their thoughts, while also making them more attentive to curatorial craft as practiced in the city’s immensely varied spaces. It will serve also to raise students’ awareness of the various forms of presentation available to them, while deepening their knowledge of methodologies and execution. 


Case Study Seminar 7: Performance and Institutions
Fall semester: 1 credit

As the practice and study of performance becomes increasingly institutionalized, this class explores wide ranging approaches to curating performance within various institutional structures—from the club and cabaret, to the proscenium and black box, to the gallery and public art contexts—and the positioning of audience in each of these situations. It will address the challenges and conditions around an ephemeral discipline in regards to documentation, preservation, and writing; the issues surrounding visual art performance versus the performing arts; and the role of producer versus curator.

Case Study Seminar 8: Spaces
Fall semester: 1 credit
Taught by an architect, this course uses historical and contemporary examples to examine the expanded field of exhibition-making in the 21st century. The complex, dynamic and productive relationships between exhibitions and their sites will be explored as the class tackles the challenges and opportunities of found or made space, site specificity, site neutrality, object specificity, temporality and media. Using images, videos and texts, students will conduct independent research on exhibitions and their sites, and visit shows, performances and events throughout the New York area. Guest lecturers will include artists, curators, exhibition designers and other architects. Curatorial exercises dedicated to the reconciliation of space and art using conventional artworks, design pieces, time-based works and performance, as well as consideration of the virtual exhibition space, will be an essential element of the course. 

Artists Roundtable
Fall semester: 3 credits
To complement the Curatorial Roundtable, the third semester of the program will focus on meetings with leading artists, architects and designers in New York City. This course will take place in the classroom, as well as in studios, galleries and museums around the city. Working toward an increased knowledge of curatorial issues from the artist’s perspective, students will participate in a series of conversations with guests to discuss their work, their exhibition experiences, and what they seek and expect from their relationships with curators. 

Practicum 4: Other Disciplines and Formats
Fall semester: 3 credits
In the follow up to the exhibition-making practicum, other forms of curatorial formats are addressed, such as film programming, performance, interventions, the educational turn, conferences, publications, hybrid and other non-exhibition-based curatorial projects. Thinking about new forms of institutional structures will also be a central aspect of the course. Experts in specific areas will address all practical aspects of their work, discussing their own projects, while historically significant examples and readings will be included. Site visits in New York City and curatorial exercises will be essential elements of the course. 

Internship and Fieldwork Program
Fall semester: 3 credits
Crucial to the professional training and networking that are core aspects of curatorial practice is the Internship and Fieldwork Program. The internship takes place during the summer break between the first and second years of the program. This is important for students to gain the fullest sense of working within a professional setting. Internships are arranged with New York-based museums, galleries and alternative venues, as well as with national and international institutions. Mentors are assigned at host institutions to oversee student work and will be members of each student’s Review Committee the following fall for his or her final curatorial project. As well, students take a trip overseas to visit an important biennial exhibition and take part in discussion and workshops at the event. This is fieldwork that augments their understanding of various aspects of the curatorial enterprise, while having the opportunity to study firsthand a major international exhibition. 

Independent Curatorial Plan
Fall semester: 3 credits
Under the supervision of the Review Committee, comprised of the department chair, faculty member, institutional mentor and external examiner, students will create and formally present the plan of their final exhibition/curatorial project. Putting into practice their refined research and writing skills, along with the cumulative knowledge of the case study seminars and practicums, they will draft the plan for their project, from its concept through proposed artists, works and budget, and any ancillary programming. Students are encouraged to work with artists from other SVA graduate programs for inclusion in exhibitions and various curatorial projects. 

Curatorial Roundtable 3: Visiting International Curators Program
Spring semester: 3 credits
Every week a curator or institution director visits to discuss a current project. The presenters come from all over the world, work across all disciplines and represent different kinds of institutions and practices. The format is informal and intimate; each presentation is followed by a reception that allows students to interact with guests and develop a growing professional network. 

Workshop in Critical Writing 3: The Catalog Essay
Spring semester: 3 credits
In conjunction with their final exhibition/curatorial project, students will write a full-length catalog essay. For this workshop, they will consider the possible approaches the essay should take; the fields of information and ideas it should include and exclude; what audience it might reach, and the relationship between the essay and its audience; and the demands of the catalog essay as a form. Throughout the semester, students will write the essay while working with the instructor as a writer works with an editor. 

Final Exhibition/Curatorial Project
Spring semester: 6 credits
Students finalize all aspects of their exhibition/curatorial project plan, prepare and install or otherwise present their work for critique, along with any ancillary activities. Curatorial projects will take place in SVA venues and in public spaces located throughout New York City. The final project is intended to demonstrate each student’s learning, development, use of practicum methods, intelligence and creativity toward the realization of curatorial work that meets high professional standards. The presentation of the final project, along with the submission of the catalog essay and the plan for any ancillary activities, will complete the requirements to earn the master’s degree. The record of this final work, along with successful completion of the full curriculum, will also demonstrate the professional level of knowledge—inclusive of practical, historical and theoretical aspects—that students have gained and can bring to their work as advanced practitioners in the field. 

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