Curating Contemporary Art

Subject ACUR90008 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2 hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission to the Master of Art Curatorship, or to the Advanced Graduate Certificate, Advanced Graduate Diploma or fourth-year honours in Art History.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Major in art history or a cognate discipline, or other background as deemed appropriate after individual student discussion with the Subject Coordinator.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Rebecca Coates


Professor Charles Green


Subject Overview:

This subject will introduce students to the various practices of curating contemporary art. The professional context for curating contemporary art has evolved from curating exhibitions and conserving collections in art museums. Now, however, contemporary art curating is practiced both within and beyond art institutions and has undergone massive global expansion. The subject will develop the skills unique to curating contemporary art by analyzing these shifts, by explaining recent theories of contemporary art curatorship, by surveying innovations and developments that have taken place in recent contemporary art curatorship including in laboratory-format public programs, as well as by defining and exploring the dedicated professional networks of freelance and emerging contemporary art curators.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who complete this subject should:

  • have an understanding of the key issues in current debates regarding the curating of contemporary art in exhibitions and biennials;
  • have an understanding of the knowledge and skills relating to freelance curating practices, ranging from commissioning and selecting new works of art to mentoring artists, including the curating of non-object-based art, time-based art and performance art;
  • have an understanding of the knowledge and skills relating to contemporary art exhibition catalogue writing, the production of substantial public programs and other exhibition tools;
  • gain an understanding of the types of institutions and organisations that produce programs of contemporary art exhibitions, including collectives, biennials and artist-run venues, and their varying requirements.
  • be familiar with the skills and methods to produce the new models of public programs and platforms that blend exhibition, performance and symposia;
  • have an overview of recent theories about curating contemporary art;
  • understand the role of curating contemporary art in preparation for a career in the contemporary visual art industry;
  • be able to understand the major debates on contemporary art curatorship, and be able to relate these to curators in Australia; and
  • gain a knowledge of the changing nature of curating contemporary art, including nomadic, peripatetic, free-lance models and the professionalization of contemporary art curatorship.
  • 2,500 word essay due mid-semester (50%)
  • 1,250 word exhibition proposal due week 10 of semester (25%)
  • 1,250 word public program and platform proposal due in the examination period (25%)

Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% (or 10 out of 12) classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Upon completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • be able to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
  • be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgments and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion;
  • be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision; and
  • be able to participate in team work through involvement in syndicate groups and group discussions.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Art Curatorship
150 Point Master of Art Curatorship
200 Point Master of Art Curatorship
Art History
Art History

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