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Curatorial Skill Sets

  • Module code: CD7105
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module provides an introduction to the concepts and practices of curating contemporary design. Through a close partnership with the Design Museum, you will directly engage with the curatorial process and develop an understanding of the curatorial knowledge and core skills necessary to produce creative exhibitions, collection displays, learning and public programmes. Leading practitioners at the Design Museum and guest lecturers introduce the key elements of exhibition curating, including concept development and narrative structure, selecting exhibits, working with exhibition and graphic designers, understanding audiences, the role of interpretation, writing exhibition text and how the areas of communications, development, finance, learning, retail and publishing support exhibitions.

These elements are further developed in group curating projects, with live project briefs set by Design Museum curators exploring a key aspect of 21st century creative and professional practice. The projects encourage communication, collaboration, peer interaction and critical reflection in combination with the development of research, analytical and critical skills. The module also includes a programme of curating visits which runs alongside the main teaching programme. The programme includes visits to exhibitions and other sites of design and curatorial practice in London. It provides the opportunity to hear curators reflect on their practice in the context of their own spaces. The programme encourages critical reflection on the visits and the writing of exhibition reviews.

Aims

  • To introduce the process of curating and producing a contemporary design exhibition;
  • To promote understanding of the key ideas shaping curatorial practice and the core skills necessary to produce creative exhibitions;
  • To develop collaborative working practice on live curating projects at the Design Museum;
  • To explore new sites of practice for curating, outside the museum and gallery environment;
  • To enable participation in a programme of curating visits to sites of design and curatorial practice in London.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the process of curating and producing a contemporary design exhibition;
  • Demonstrate a practical understanding of the application of appropriate curatorial methods necessary for the realisation of exhibitions and displays;
  • Display a critical awareness of current theoretical and practical issues in design curation through research, display and interpretation;
  • Offer a fuller understanding of the role of Learning in the museum and the means by which Learning programmes are developed to support an exhibition;
  • Achieve an understanding of the design museum as a professional context for contemporary curatorial practice;
  • Experience practical participation in group curating projects at the Design Museum that connect to the changing needs of the sector with employability in mind.

Curriculum content

  • Developing an exhibition concept, including curatorial research.
  • Developing a narrative structure.
  • Selecting exhibits and developing content for exhibitions.
  • Exhibition project management.
  • The role of exhibition and graphic design.
  • Working with exhibition and graphic designers.
  • The role of interpretation.
  • The role of digital and interactive media.
  • Writing text for exhibitions, catalogues and other media.
  • Marketing an exhibition.
  • Touring exhibition programmes.
  • Understanding audiences.
  • How people learn in exhibitions.

Teaching and learning strategy

This module is taught by formal lectures, seminars, workshops and project work. Curators and designers will be invited to introduce the key aspects of exhibition curating within the context of a public museum. There is also a group curating project led by a live project brief, to which students are asked to respond. The module includes a rolling programme of visits to exhibitions and other sites of design and curatorial practice in London and students will be expected to participate in this programme.

The module will make use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Canvas for communication and dissemination of information between students and staff as well as making online learning materials available to all. Students should check this site on a daily basis for module information, timetables, sign-ups, updates and additional information and teaching materials.

All courses based in the Kingston School of Art offer students free access to the online video tutorial platform Lynda.com. This provides a wide range of subjects to choose from, many with downloadable exercise files, including software tutorials covering photography, graphics, web design, audio and music, CAD and Microsoft Office software, as well as courses on Business and Management skills. Some of these are embedded in the curriculum and offer additional self-paced learning, others may be taken at will by students wishing to broaden their employability skills in other areas.

Students receive membership of the Design Museum as part of this module, and the module is taught on site at the museum. Students are encouraged to apply for student membership of the Museums Association which provides free entry to UK museums and exhibitions with an MA card, Museums Journal monthly and Museum Practice online. Membership of ICOM will provide free entry to international museums worldwide with an ICOM card.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, visits, project work 45
Guided independent study 255
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment will be based on a 3,000 word essay that reflect the themes of the module and a 15-minute group presentation related to project work. Class participation is key for students to gain skills in critically assessing work and events, and in constructing convincing

argumentation. Students will be expected to draw on, incorporate and further develop skills in curatorial practice, knowledge and experience gained from readings, lectures and visits. The essay serves as a reference point against which the progress and development of independent thinking of students with regards to their understanding of the fields (design and curatorial practice), the application of theory and methodology and the formulation of arguments can be measured. The essay should interrogate, challenge and, where relevant, question current curatorial thinking and its engagement with design practice. Formative feedback will be provided on work-in-progress group presentations in seminars, workshops and tutorials.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the process of curating and producing a contemporary design exhibition; Formative feedback in seminars, workshops and tutorials. Summatively assessed through the Essay and Group Presentation related to live project work.
2. Demonstrate a practical understanding of the application of appropriate curatorial methods necessary for the realisation of exhibitions and displays; Formative feedback in seminars, workshops and tutorials. Summatively assessed through the Essay and Group Presentation related to live project work.
3. Display a critical awareness of current theoretical and practical issues in design curation through research, display and interpretation; Formative feedback in seminars, workshops and tutorials. Summatively assessed through the Essay and Group Presentation related to live project work.
4. Offer a fuller understanding of the role of Learning in the museum and the means by which Learning programmes are developed to support an exhibition; Formative feedback in seminars, workshops and tutorials. Summatively assessed through the Essay and Group Presentation related to live project work.
5. Achieve an understanding of the design museum as a professional context for contemporary curatorial practice; Formative feedback in seminars, workshops and tutorials. Summatively assessed through the Essay and Group Presentation related to live project work.
6. Experience practical participation of group curating projects at the Design Museum. Formative feedback in seminars, workshops and tutorials. Summatively assessed through the Essay and Group Presentation related to live project work.

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
3,000 word essay Coursework 60%
15-minute group presentation related to project work Practical exam 40%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography recommended reading

Barrett, K. and Conway, Jemma. 'The Conversation: What is the Role of the Curator in Museums Today?', Museums Journal (April 2015).

Bayley, Stephen. Commerce and Culture: From Pre-Industrial Art to Post-Industrial Value, London: Design Museum (1989)

Bayley, Stephen. 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum', The Independent, (18 September, 2006)

Bennett, Tony. The Birth of the Museum: history, theory, politics, London: Rutledge (1995)

Black, Graham. The Engaging Museum: Developing Museums for Visitor Involvement, London: Rutledge (2005)

Black, Graham. Transforming Museums in the Twenty-first Century, London: Rutledge (2011)

Blueprint & Kingston University. 'Curating Contemporary Design', Blueprint No.243, pg 66-90, (June 2006)

Clark, Judith and De La Haye, Amy. Exhibiting Fashion: Before and After 1971, Yale University Press (2014).

Conran, Terence. My Life in Design, Conran Octopus (2016)

Corner, Frances. Why Fashion Matters, Thames & Hudson (2014)

Chaplin, Sarah and Stara, Alexandra (ed.). Curating Architecture and the City, Oxfordshire: Rutledge (2009)

Dana, John Cotton. The New Museum: Selected Writings by John Cotton Dana, edited by W.A. Peniston, Washington DC: The Newark Museum Association, New Jersey & The American Association of Museums (1999)

Dernie, David. Exhibition Design, London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd (2006)

Falk, J.H. & Dierking, L.D. (eds.), The Museum Experience, Washington D.C.: Whaleback Books (1992)

George, Adrian. The Curator's Handbook: Museums, Commercial Galleries, Independent Spaces, London: Thames & Hudson (2015)

Griffiths, Alison. Shivers Down Your Spine: Cinema, Museums & the Immersive View, Columbia University Press (2013)

Greenberg, R., Ferguson, B.W., Nairne, S. Thinking about Exhibitions, London: Routledge, (1996)

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Hughes, P. Exhibition Design, Laurence King (2010)

Jeppsson, Freda (ed.). In Case of Design - Inject Critical thinking, Stockholm (2010)

Lang, C. Reeve. J. & Woollard, V. The Responsive Museum, Hants: Ashgate (2006)

Lock, Dennis. Project Management (tenth edition), London: Rutledge (2013)

Macleod, Suzanne, Hourston Hanks, Laura and Hale, Jonathan (eds.). Museum Making: Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions, Rutledge (2012)

Marincola, Paula (ed.). What Makes a Great Exhibition?, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Exhibitions   Press (2006)

Newson, Alex; Suggett, Eleanor and Sudjic, Deyan. Designer Maker User, Phaidon Press Ltd, (2016)

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O'Neill, Paul (ed.). Curating Subjects, London: Open Editions (2007)

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Obrist, Hans Ulrich. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating, Berlin: Sternberg Press (2011)

Packer, J. 'Beyond Learning': Exploring visitor's perceptions of the value and benefits of museum experiences.', Curator, Vol 51, Issue 1, 33-54 (2008)

Palmer, J.A. (ed.) Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present, London: Rutledge (2001)

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Pine, B. Joseph & Gilmore, James H. The Experience Economy, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2011.

Richards, Charles R. Industrial Art and the Museum, New York: Macmillan (1927)

Ryan, Zoë (ed.). As Seen: Exhibitions that made Architecture and Design History, The Art Institute of Chicago, New Haven and London: Yale University Press (2017)

Schubert, K. The Curator's Egg: The Evolution of the Museum Concept from the French Revolution to the Present Day, London: One-Off Press (2000)

Simon, Nina. The Participatory Museum, California: Museum (2010).

Smith, Terry. Thinking Contemporary Curating, New York: Independent Curators International, (2012)

Spalding, Julian. The Poetic Museum, London: Prestel (2002)

Sparke, Penny and Sudjic, Deyan. Representing Architecture: New discussions - ideologies, techniques, curation, London: Design Museum (2008)

Staniszewski, M.A.  The Power of Display: A history of exhibition installation at the Museum of    Modern Art, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press (1998)

Sudjic, Deyan. The Language of Things, London: Penguin Books (2008)

Thea, Carolee. On Curating: Interviews with Ten International Curators, New York: Distributed Art Publishers (2009)

Twemlow, Alice. Sifting the Trash: A history of design criticism, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press (2017)

Vänskä, Annamari and Clark, Hazel (eds).  Fashion Curating: Critical Practice in the Museum and Beyond, London: Bloomsbury Publishing (2018)

Vergo, Peter (ed.). The New Museology, Reaktion Books (1989)

Waters, Florence. 'The Clothes Shows', Museums Journal (March 2015)

Williams, Gareth. Design: An essential introduction, London: Goodman Fiell (2015) 

Wilson, Tom. The Story of the Design Museum, Phaidon Press Ltd (2016)

Wilson, Tom (ed.). Designs of Our Times: 10 Years of Designs of the Year, London: the Design Museum (2017)

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