Course Requirements

First Year (24 units)

  • Contemporary Art History and Theory
  • Exhibition Form
  • The Art of Criticism
  • Art and Experiences
  • Exhibition Design
  • Global Art Worlds
  • Artists and Designers
  • Elective
  • Professional Development: Internship (0 credit)

Second Year (24 units)

  • Talking Contemporary Art
  • Exhibition Project: Research & Development 1 & 2
  • Exhibition Project: Organization 1 & 2
  • Thesis Project 1 & 2
  • Elective


Program Structure

In the first year, the course consists of 8 classes and 1 internship (seven semester-long seminars, and one elective) providing an intensive learning environment through which to acquire essential practical and theoretical curatorial skills.

Students are expected to participate in research and exhibition projects, to give individual class presentations, as well as to complete regular writing assignments. An extra-curricular internship is also required to enhance specific practical skills and assist in professional development.

In the second year, the emphasis is placed on self-directed learning. The knowledge and skills that students gain over the first year are put to the test when the class collaboratively curates and produces an exhibition and accompanying catalog. During their second year, students also conduct independent research for a written thesis on an art historical subject of their choice.

Sample Course Descriptions

Exhibition Form
This seminar takes up a series of case studies in order to consider the ways in which exhibitions make history and define fields. The course considers a variety of formats for curatorial practice including museum and gallery exhibitions, biennials, blogs, collection installations, performance, discursive events, curatorial texts, and catalogs. Reading, in-class lectures, discussion, and assignments will encourage critical reflection on theme, thesis, juxtaposition and association as well as logistical, intellectual, and political aspects of making and viewing.

Exhibition Design
This class positions exhibition making as an interdisciplinary practice, and offers students collaborative, project-based opportunities to develop installation strategies, as well as to consider techniques of visual and spatial design across all aspects of an exhibition’s manifestation, from display furniture and materials, to the catalogue or publication.

Talking Contemporary Art
This seminar presents a critical survey of practices and discourse related to contemporary art and curatorial practice in the SF Bay Area and beyond. It is organized to provide useful context, framework, and history for student artists, designers, curators, theorists and critics alike. Students engage with a curators, artists, ideas, and exhibitions that represent a broad range of strategies for cultural production. Classes will include guest lecturers, local field trips and a student-led discussion series with readings.

Exhibition Project: Research & Development
Over the course of the program’s second year, students collectively conceptualize and realize an ambitious and original exhibition for the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, along with attendant publication, programs, publicity, and gallery mediation This two-semester practicum demands a synthesis of the skills built over the program’s course: direct engagement with art and artist, archival research and critical writing, professional practices, spatial arrangement an design, group collaboration, and public address.