Research at the Bard Graduate Center

Teaching and Research go together at the BGC. The renowned evening seminar series is curated by professors and flows from teaching and scholarly interests. Symposia sometimes connect to existing areas of the curriculum, sometimes to exhibitions, and sometimes mark the beginning of new directions. Focus Gallery exhibitions project these academic pursuits into the three-dimensional arena of the museological. Where events bring the research world inside the walls of the BGC, publications reach outside. Collaborative projects, whether with museums or other academic institutions, both nationally and internationally, reflect the BGC’s commitment to broad and innovative approaches to studying complex questions.

View a complete list of Research Projects and Initiatives »

Object Research

BGC Library

What distinguishes the BGC‘s vision of doing cultural history from objects is that it pays equal attention to getting the cultural history right and the object-knowledge right. Students acquire this from objects in our own study collection as well as those in the vast collections of our nearby partners, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection and the American Museum of Natural History. Multi-year projects on conservation supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and student curatorship by the Chipstone Foundation open up to students additional facets of the object. Our own exhibition gallery, with its four exhibitions per year, offers many different kinds of opportunities for students to learn from objects up close, none perhaps as intense as our twice yearly Focus Projects, faculty-student search projects in exhibition making.

Object of the Month »

Making a World with One Hundred Things »

The strength of the BGC Library is in its outstanding collection of research materials devoted to the decorative arts, design history and material culture. Our non-circulating collection of 50,000 volumes fosters advanced studies in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture. The Library subscribes to over 250 periodicals and numerous online research tools. We provide reference assistance throughout the academic year and we assist patrons in using the rich resources available across the New York City area.

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Publications

Seminars and Symposia

History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400–2000


More than a decade in the making, this work, spanning six centuries of global design, is the first to offer an account of the vast history of decorative arts, design, and material culture produced in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and the Islamic world from 1400 to the present.

Cultural Histories of the Material World


The volumes in this series explore the ways human beings have shaped and interpreted the material world from the perspectives of archaeology, anthropology, art and design history, economic, cultural, and landscape history, history of science and technology, and philosophy.

West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture


West 86th focuses on scholarship in material culture, design history, and the decorative arts.

Gallery Publications

The BGC Seminar Series have made the Bard Graduate Center a major venue for advanced intellectual discussion in New York City and an expression of the range of methods and approaches for studying the cultural history of the material world. The seminars function in counterpoint with course offerings to present our students the possible scope of their own research and future work.

View an archive of streamed events »

Digital Initiatives

Cultures of Conservation

Digital Media Lab


The Digital Media Lab provides a number of resources for the BGC community, all of which are aimed at increasing the integration and implementation of new media tools within the curricular and research goals of the institution.

BGC Craft, Art & Design Oral History Project


The Bard Graduate Center Craft, Art and Design Oral History Project is an online archive of oral history interviews of contemporary craftspeople, artists and designers.

The interviews have been conducted by graduate students in the seminar “Craft and Design in the USA, 1940–Present,” taught by Assistant Professor Catherine Whalen, who also directs the project. Bard Graduate Center students have been building this archive since 2007 and are continuing to do so.

At its core, the "Cultures of Conservation" initiative is an attempt to connect the perspective of conservation to an interdisciplinary notion of the “human sciences.”

The project aims to work on three levels: current students, emerging scholars in the humanities, and conservators. New courses devoted to conservation perspectives, and augmented existing courses will link the study of materiality directly to conservation. Two two-year post-graduate fellowships aim to bring young scholars in the humanities to New York to pair with conservators or conservation scientists on a project.

Learn More on the Cultures of Conservation Website »