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Course content

Our MA Curating offers a practical and theoretical training in devising and curating exhibitions, as you work towards the preparation of an exhibition at our on-site Art Exchange gallery.

Our course combines practice, theory and histories of curating in equal measure. You will develop an essential base skills for a successful exhibition – from object handling to managing exhibition budgets – through visiting lectures by active museum professionals; practical workshops using our on-site collection and galleries; and competitive placements at leading institutions.

You will build your own confident grasp of the history and theory of exhibition-making, studying with academics who besides being active curators are producing new key texts on the curatorial history and theory. You study topics including:
-How an exhibition can be used as a means of social or political critique
-The historical role that museums have played in society
-Participation and social engagement between spectators, artists and curators
-A choice of history of art options

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. Our Art History programme is 6th in the UK for research excellence, with 89% of our work rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and we achieved an exceptional 95% student satisfaction in the 2016 National Student Survey.

Our expert staff

Our staff consists of a dynamic group of art historians. While our research interests span a range of cultures and media, from the early modern to the present, core specialties include exhibition design, modern and contemporary art, public engagement and activism.

Here are a few examples of recent or current projects by staff members:
-Dr Gavin Grindon, Lecturer in Art History and co-director of our Centre for Curatorial Studies, recently co-curated the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one of the best attended shows in the museum’s history. He has also widely published on activist art in leading journals such as Art History.
-Dr Adrian Locke, a Visiting Fellow in Art History and Senior Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, has curated a diverse range of exhibitions, including Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910–1940 (2013) and Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South American from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (2014). He also co-curated the exhibition Ai Weiwei, which opens at the Royal Academy in September 2015.
-Dr Matt Lodder, Lecturer in Art History with an emphasis on modern and contemporary visual culture, is co-curating the exhibition Tattoo: Ancient Myths, Modern Meanings, which opens next year in the U.S.
-Dr Michael Tymkiw, co-director of the Centre for Curatorial Studies, has a book under contract entitled Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism. He has also just launched an interdisciplinary research project that focuses on using digital technologies to expand disability access in museums—a project that involves collaborations with several museums in Colchester and London including firstsite and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Specialist facilities

At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums in the nearby town of Colchester; on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums and galleries at your fingertips.

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience and engage in object-based learning, a cornerstone of our approach when teaching the history of art and its modes of display:
-Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
-Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks and workshops by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students
-Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
-Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is home to staff who specialise in the history of exhibition design and curate high-profile exhibitions

Your future

The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and our art history graduates leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.

Graduates from our programmes are ideally prepared for roles in the media, in advertising, in museums and galleries, in education (in schools, universities, and cultural institutions), as conservators, as auctioneers, dealers and antiques specialists, in charities, in publishing, as specialist arts lawyers, as PR agents, in fashion, or to run their own galleries.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
-National Portrait Gallery
-Victoria and Albert Museum
-Sotheby’s New York
-Momart Ltd
-John Lewis

We also offer research supervision for PhD and MPhil for those who want to continue with research. We cover the major areas of European art and architecture from 1300 to the present, as well as the art and architecture of Latin America and the United States.

We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Visit the Curating - MA page on the University of Essex website for more details!

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