Curatorial Thinking: Exhibition as Medium

The exhibition, where objects are grouped together for a limited time to elucidate a particular thesis or argument, has been a key curatorial practice since the establishment of the public museum during the long nineteenth century. But all exhibitions, whether time-bound or “permanent,” tell stories, communicate meaning, and establish values by presenting objects and ideas mediated through space. This course will examine how curators and exhibition designers construct aesthetic, historical and didactic narratives, and how they use different modes of interpretation such as text, reproductions, and digital components to complement objects. Meetings with curators from local and international museums and visits to exhibitions will accompany class discussions and workshops. Assignments will include the preparation of an exhibition using Google SketchUp, entailing interpretive components and objects/images. Weekly readings will focus largely on curatorial practice and interpretation, including writing labels and wall texts. Midterm presentations will be an opportunity to workshop the proposed exhibition. Two short exhibition critiques are to be posted to the class website in the course of the semester. This course is a pre-requisite for those students intending to submit an Exhibition QP. As in other QP tracks, topics should ideally come out of a pre-existing paper. The faculty advisor under whom the original paper was written, together with the instructor of this class, will share advising for the project. Deadlines and other aspects of the QP process will remain consistent with other tracks. Students who are not intending to pursue an exhibition QP are also welcome to take this class. 3 credits. Satisfies the digital literacy project requirement.