ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The Master of Arts degree in Curatorial Practice (MACP) is a two-year program that focuses on professional art-related training with a thorough grounding in the relevant study of history, research, and theory, with an emphasis on hands-on work with art experts in the field, professional networking, and the foremost goal of placing graduates of the program in curatorial jobs. The program takes full advantage of the vast number of arts institutions and professionals on the doorstep of the School of Visual Arts in Chelsea and throughout New York City, providing countless opportunities for study, mentoring, and professional development. Our faculty members all work as curators, directors, or other professionals at major New York institutions. Our weekly guest lecturers are curators, artists, conservators, writers, architects, critics, and theorists who stream into our space on 21st Street from around the world to talk about their exhibitions, programs, projects, and events.
In the time of the pandemic, all curators and institutions are simultaneously attempting to do their work in conventional ways, while also improvising, inventing, rethinking, and broadening the ways in which they can relate the narratives of the works they present—whether in physical space or virtually. Our program, from its inception, has taken as its mandate this practical, historical, and theoretical work, along with keen attention to the diversity of society and the many ways in which curators can address the pressing issues of society. Our students, faculty, guests in our classes, and speakers in our regular schedule of programmed events represent that diversity. Our book, What.about Activism?, published in 2019 and commissioned and edited by our department Chair, takes as its subject the ways across the world that distinguished curators and thinkers have both questioned the art world and worked with their communities to shift and change perspectives, to derail injustice, and to improve our lives through the visions of artists. Our coursework covers many forms of curatorial activity, using diverse texts as anchors, with examples of exhibitions and the experiences of our working curatorial faculty as guides. Our new course in transnational art history underscores MACP's intent to inclusively engage in multiple histories and expressions of creation and concern.
Today, in a time of enormous tumult, in which new ways of working and living and heightened calls for social justice promise the possibilities for change, our program offers an approach to professional preparation that underlines the intersection of practical and intellectual training and social engagement. MACP is predicated on the fact that the global enterprise of the art world must continue to be analyzed and critiqued for its systemic problems toward revision, while acknowledging that in its complexity and vastness—including museums, Kunsthallen, commercial and nonprofit galleries, private collections, alternative spaces, biennials, art fairs, online art sites, and a vast number of other publicly and privately supported art platforms—there is also the potential for curatorial work on local, national, and international stages that brings to bear creativity and new philosophical, social, and theoretical thinking in the making of curatorial projects. We put this to practice in our own gallery, where each student in MACP produces an exhibition.
To emphasize the deeply entwined nature of education and professional engagement, MACP considers itself a hub for practitioners in the global field, not an academic cloister. What this means in real terms are exhibitions, performances, panel discussions, workshops, and ample time in the city for one-on-one encounters with artists and art on a continual basis for our students. They have the opportunity to create, curate, and collaborate with leading professionals and institutions from New York, with further opportunities in projects and internships, including research, exhibitions, and publications that span the globe. These events and collaborations, along with all of the New York art scene, give the students daily access to professionals who become the basis of their own networks for the future. Nothing can beat the proximity of these encounters in the everyday life of New York’s teeming, international art scene.
The space that MACP occupies, close by the galleries in Chelsea and within reach of museums and other exhibition venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the other boroughs, affirms our programmatic approach, which fluidly mixes practice, research, and theory. Our facilities have been designed from the ground up specifically for us by Charles Renfro of the world-renowned architectural practice of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in association with the design firm Leong Leong. Their mission was to create a dynamic space in which discussion, study, professional visits, critical encounters, research, and production take place in an immensely flexible, technologically sophisticated, and comfortable work environment. Our beautiful facilities fit within the exceptional network of studios, workshops for every creative practice, libraries, labs, and galleries that make up the School of Visual Arts. The faculty and artists of SVA’s other programs offer still more possibilities for collaboration.
MACP seeks diversity in all forms and we offer small support scholarships that are merit-based.
No other curatorial program in the world brings more extraordinary resources, more creative enterprises, more curators, artists, and experts as faculty and visitors, more opportunities for hands-on work and professional networking than our Master of Arts in Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
The MA in Curatorial Practice offers a preliminary boot camp as part of its first semester, introducing fundamentals of research methodologies and conceptual thinking, followed in the full four semesters of the program with rigorous practical and intellectual training. The course work is designed to offer macro and micro views of the field, with the study of different curatorial practices and histories, constant practical exercises in curatorial craft, and engagement with working curators and other experts across disciplines and from around the world.
The curriculum is founded on a series of case study seminars; writing workshops; practicums in every aspect of exhibition-making and other forms of curatorial presentation; and programmatic engagements with curators, artists, and experts who will meet with the students as a group and on an individual basis. Students will also take a semester of art practice in their first year to have a hands-on experience of what it is to engage in the production of art. Students may draw from the resources of SVA’s other undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as its workshops, labs and libraries.
During the summer between the first and second years, students enter into an internship/mentorship program, while they begin work on their curatorial plan for a final project. Internships take place at major institutions around the world, as well as national and New York institutions, with mentors who are internationally renowned. The final projects take many forms and are often fully interdisciplinary, as befits the expanded field of curatorial work today. These projects are exhibited in public spaces in New York City and in virtual space, replete with catalogs and documentary online presence.
Degree candidates must successfully complete 50 credits, including all required courses, while maintaining a high level of academic and practical performance as judged by faculty and mentors. Applicants with a prior background in curatorial work are especially encouraged, as are art historians and artists whose enterprises are relevant to advanced work in the curatorial field. Our students and faculty come from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the United States, and it is intrinsic to the program that we continue to develop our global network of connections that serves our graduates in all of their future curatorial work, while affirming our belief in the free movement of knowledge without regard to borders.