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


Teaching and learning methods

Some of the lectures for this unit will be delivered online.


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

 Essay  100%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Essay Proposal surgery and written comments


Academic advisor meeting





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.


Barker, Emma (ed), Contemporary Cultures of Display, Yale University Press, 1999.


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



Greenberg, Reesa and Ferguson, Bruce and Nairne, Sandy (eds), Thinking about

exhibitions, Routledge, 1996.


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.


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, 1999.


O'Neill, Paul, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), MIT Press,



O'Neill, Paul and Mick Wilson (eds.), Curating research, Open Editions, 2015.


Perry, Gill and Cunningham, Colin (eds) Academies, museums and canons of art, Yale

University Press, 1999.


Prior, Nick, Museums and Modernity, Berg, 2000.


Rees Leahy, Helen, Museum Bodies. The Politics and Practices of Visiting and

Viewing, Ashgate, 2012.


Serota, Nicholas, Experience or Interpretation: The Dilemma of Museums of

Modern Art, London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.


Taylor, Brandon Art for the nation: exhibitions and the London public, 1747-2001,

Manchester University Press, 1999.


Whitehead, Christopher, Interpreting Art in Museums and Galleries, Routledge, 2012.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 21
Independent study hours
Independent study 129

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Hardman Unit coordinator

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