MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Curating Art

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60802
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module is designed to equip you with a range of critical, theoretical and practical approaches to curating art. During the course, we examine the role, work and skills of the curator in museums and galleries, within historical, critical and professional contexts.



The course is devised to develop your knowledge and understanding of:

  • The theory and practice of art curating in diverse institutional and professional settings
  • The cultural, practical and ethical issues relating to the acquisition, interpretation and display of art
  • How knowledge and cultural authority is produced within the art museum, and how this has, in turn, been challenged by artists, critics and curators themselves



Week 1: Introduction to Curating Art I: Space, Display and Interpretation  

Week 2: Introduction to Curating Art II: Histories and Typologies

Week 3: Introduction to Curating Art III: Biennials, Triennials, Quinquennials

Week 4: Curating Now I: Performance, Ephemerality and Archives  

Week 5: Curating Now II: The Artist as Curator

Week 6: Curating Now III: Identities and Positionality

Week 7: Curating Now IV: Socially-engaged practice and co-curation  

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly one-hour lectures and two-hour seminars with directed learning and presentations to be prepared from week to week, including presentations by guest lectures and site visits. Students will be directed to conduct fieldwork in preparation for the class in specific weeks. Teaching and Learning Methods include:

  • Lectures and seminars
  • Individual and group fieldwork
  • Reading, discussion
  • Discussion with museum professionals
  • Individual research
  • Practical workshops

The course will have a Blackboard site with all elements of the minimum specification including: 
1. Aims, Objectives, Timetable and Mode of Assessment 
2. Course Materials 
3. Reading lists 
4. Guidance on assessment


Knowledge and understanding

  • Critical understanding of the theory and practice of curating in museums and galleries
  • Knowledge of the institutional and professional contexts within which curators work
  • A critical understanding of the history and practice of art museum curatorship, including key debates relating to ethics, access and authority
  • Knowledge of key processes in art collecting and curatorship
  • Understanding of the practice of curating in its historical contexts and its ‘professionalisation’ as a historical process
  • Further experience in researching and writing (both for an academic and a general reader), team-based work and presentation skills


Intellectual skills

  • Undertake self-directed learning and skills acquisition
  • Conduct independent, critical fieldwork
  • Develop appropriate methodological and analytical skills
  • Apply skills and ideas learned in one institutional context to another, while remaining aware of the complexity of the issues

Fieldwork is subject to government guidelines.

Practical skills

  • Initiate practical and creative solutions to specific criteria.
  • Communicate complex research findings through clear written and verbal articulation, supported by appropriate technological tools

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Retrieve, select and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources, including libraries, archives, and the Internet
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively in a professional, as well as an academic, environment.
  • Critically evaluate personal performance through monitoring and analytical reflection.
  • Demonstrate independent learning ability suitable for continuing study and professional development.

Employability skills

- Gain professional insight into curating and related roles - Articulate clearly key debates related to curating art - Presentation skills - Manage time efficiently - Generate ideas and think laterally - Map career directions and trajectories

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeLengthWeighting within unit (if relevant)
Essay proposalFormative500 words0%
EssaySummative3000 words100%


Feedback methods

Feedback methodFormative or Summative
Essay proposal surgery and written commentsFormative
Academic advisor meetingFormative


Recommended reading

Altshuler, Bruce, The Avant-garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century, Abrams,



Altshuler, Bruce, Salon to Biennial – Exhibitions That Made Art History Volume 1: 1863-

1959, Phaidon, 2008.


Altshuler, Bruce, Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions that Made Art History Volume 2:

1962-2002, Phaidon, 2013.  


Davida, Dena et al. Curating Live Arts : Critical Perspectives, Essays, and Conversations  on Theory and Practice. Ed. Dena Davida et al. New York: Berghahn Books, 2019.


D'Souza, Aruna, Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts (New York: Badlands Unlimited, 2018).


England, David, Thecla Schiphorst, and Nick Bryan-Kinns. Curating the Digital : Space for Art and Interaction. Ed. David England, Thecla Schiphorst, and Nick Bryan-Kinns. Switzerland: Springer, 2016.


Fowle, Kate 'Who cares? Understanding the role of the curator today’ in Rand, S., & Kouris, H. (eds) Cautionary tales: Critical curating, apexart, 2010 pp.10-19.


French, Jade. Inclusive Curating in Contemporary Art : a Practical Guide. New edition. Leeds: Arc Humanities Press, 2020  


Fritsch, Juliette (ed.), Museum Gallery Interpretation and Material Culture, Routledge,



Haskell, Francis The ephemeral museum: old master paintings and the rise of the art

exhibition, Yale University Press, 2000.


Klonk, Charlotte, Spaces of Experience, Yale University Press, 2009.


Marstine, Janet, and Oscar Ho. Curating Art. Ed. Janet Marstine and Oscar Ho. Abingdon, Oxon ;: Routledge, 2022.


McClellan, Andrew, The Art Museum from Boullée to Bilbao, University of California Press,



Martinon, Jean-Paul, The Curatorial: a Philosophy of Curating, Bloomsbury

Academic, 2013.


McClellan, Andrew, Inventing the Louvre: Art, Politics and the Origins of the Modern

Museum in Eighteenth-century Paris, CUP, 19

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 7
Seminars 15
Independent study hours
Independent study 128

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Hardman Unit coordinator

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