Course Requirements

First Year (24 units)

  • Contemporary Art History and Theory
  • Exhibition Form
  • Criticism and Creativity
  • Objects 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 offers a history of exhibitions as social form. Drawing on case studies from early collections and artists’ associations, through the artistic avant-garde and its institutionalization, and resolving with contemporary efforts to decolonize the museum, the course offers a toolbox of possible exhibition-forms, and an essential grounding in the history of exhibition making—a history from which old forms can be recovered and new forms invented.

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 at the cutting edge of contemporary curatorial practice. Working with a variety of guest lecturers, students engage with the most important ideas, exhibitions, and thinkers in the curatorial field.

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.