14 curatorial training programmes in North America

A variety of programmes in North America provide training for professional and aspiring curators.

Art Radar selects 14 curatorial studies programmes in North America that provide an opportunity for the development of professional and aspiring curators through academic courses and practical, hands-on training.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

1. Curatorial Studies Program – New York Institute of Fine Arts and Metropolitan Museum of Art

Presented by the New York Institute of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), the programme consists of two colloquia exploring different aspects of a curator’s professional duties. One of the courses is offered every semester and the third component of the programme consists of an individually arranged nine-month curatorial residency. Participants receive a professional diploma with hands-on training.

2. Curator-in-Training Program – Western Illinois Museum

The Western Illinois Museum’s curatorial programme begins every year in April and lasts for four weeks, especially targeting young, high school students. The programme builds knowledge of museum practice and professional skills. Curators-in-Training will work with museum staff and experienced volunteers who are mentors. The work completed at the end of the month will be incorporated in an exhibition or other museum programme.

3. MA Curatorial Practice – School of Visual Arts New York City

The School of Visual Arts New York City (SVA NYC) has a two-year programme that focuses on professional training with a thorough grounding in the relevant study of history, research and theory. The programme emphasises hands-on work with experts in the field, professional networking and the foremost goal of placing graduates of the programme in curatorial jobs. Through academic courses and a second-year internship/mentorship programme, students will receive a Master’s degree in Curatorial Practice at the end of the programme.

4. Curators LAB – Design Cloud Gallery

The Curators LAB in Chicago’s Design Cloud Gallery was launched in 2012 as a two-week laboratory for emerging curators. Its purpose is to provide a comprehensive curatorial education coupled with real world experience. An intensive course, it engages in critical dialogue about curatorial practice in contemporary art. The programme culminates with each participant’s curatorial work presented in an exhibition.

5. Criticism & Curatorial Practice (MFA) – Ontario College of Art and Design 

The Ontario College of Art and Design, Canada, offers a Master’s in Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. The programme opens an opportunity to explore and experiment with contemporary art, media and design through engagement with history, theory and criticism within curatorial practice. It is a full-time course spread over two academic years or five sequential semesters. It includes a summer internship or study abroad period and a final thesis to receive the Master’s degree.

6. Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice – California College of the Arts

The California College of the Arts (CCA) offers a two-year graduate programme in curatorial practice that focuses on the San Francisco area and includes both academic, campus-based courses and off-campus training within a professional environment. The course offers curatorial models, exhibition practice and professional development components.

7. International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) – New York

The ISCP in New York offers residency programmes for artists and curators, with a private and furnished studio space. The programme is usually three to six months, but applications can be made for up to one year. All residents are invited to participate in a number of activities in and outside of ISCP including the four core programme activities: Visiting Critics, Field Trips, Salons and Open Studios. Offering international connections, professional conversations and critique, and networks with the community, this is an independent professional programme that may culminate in an exhibition.

8. Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports Curatorial Fellowships for undergraduates with institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, United States. The fellowship seeks to make a critical impact on American art museums by developing gifted curators who are committed to engaging with the full spectrum of museum audiences. It lasts two years and should be taken before graduation.

The Whitney Museum. Photo by Ed Lederman. Image courtesy Whitney Museum.

The Whitney Museum. Photo by Ed Lederman. Image courtesy Whitney Museum.

9. Independent Study Programme – Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, offers the Independent Study Programme (ISP), which consists of three interrelated parts: Studio Programme, Curatorial Programme and Critical Studies Programme. Students pursuing art practice, curatorial work, art historical scholarship, and critical writing engage in discussions and debates that examine the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of artistic production. The programme encourages theoretical and critical study of the practices, institutions, and discourses that constitute the field of culture. The courses run from September to May and students receive academic credits for their participation.

10. MA in Modern Art: Critical & Curatorial Studies (MODA) – Columbia University

Columbia University offers this two-year full-time Master’s degree course founded on the conviction that art historians and critics engaged with modern and contemporary art need to understand curatorial strategies. Students learn from and are exposed to a wide-range of contemporary cultural practitioners, including art historians, artists, architects, critics, curators, theorists, designers and publishers, just as they build community across institutions and disciplines.

11. Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) – New York 

The CCL in New York aims to train curators to assume leadership positions in museums in the rapidly changing and evolving cultural climate. It trains curators who are already working in the field in North American art museums and international institutions. Directors and trustees from museums across the United States and Europe serve as mentors and residency hosts to the Fellows, enhancing learning outside the classroom. The training includes a two-week intensive programme, an internship and mentorship support and a final week of presentations.

12. Graduate Curatorial Internships – National Gallery of Art

Graduate Curatorial Internships at the National Gallery of Art, Landover in Washington provide in-depth training for advanced PhD students and recent PhD recipients interested in gaining curatorial experience in a museum setting. Interns work with curators on permanent collection and exhibition projects and attend a weekly seminar. Interns will work from September to May and receive a stipend of approximately USD30,000 that is subject to all applicable taxes.

13. Graduate Programme – Centre for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College 

The graduate programme at CCS Bard, New York, is an intensive course of study in the history of the contemporary visual arts, the institutions and practices of exhibition making and the theory and criticism of the visual arts since the 1960s. The programme is interdisciplinary and provides practical training and experience within a museum setting. It is a two-year course that includes on campus lectures and activities and practical professional training.

14. Introduction to Curating – Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s New York offers a hands-on course that provides an immersive encounter with curatorial practice in today’s art world. Students will learn the skills needed to navigate this exciting field, from developing relationships with artists to writing exhibition proposals to installation planning and design. The course is an intensive three-week summer course and applicants do not need to be professionals in the field.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia


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