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Introduction to Curating Contemporary Design

Please contact us for future course dates.

Course description

This two-day course will introduce participants to the key concepts of exhibition-making and curatorial principles as applied to design. It will include examples of display strategies from architecture, product and furniture design and fashion. An overview of exhibition histories and the evolution of display practices through to object-based research and storytelling will embed participants in curatorial thinking. The course will combine lectures and workshop exercises which will encourage an active engagement in the processes of curatorial work. These processes include object-based research, collection and care, through to experimental cultural interventions, both inside and outside the museum or gallery space.

Example course structure

Day one

  • 10.00 – 10.30am: Introductions: course leader and participants introduce themselves.
  • 10.30 – 11.00am: What is a Curator? Participants to work to define this role and their understanding of the principles of exhibition-making.
  • 11.00 – 12.30pm: Introductory lecture to the evolution of exhibition displays, from cabinets of curiosities in the Renaissance through to World Fairs in the 1800s and Expos in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
  • 12.30 – 1.30pm: Lunch
  • 1.30 – 2.30pm: Object-based reading workshop exercise. Each participant brings in an object and participants write 50 words about it. The object is then passed to the next participant who must research the object and write 50 words on this. Participants share their ‘readings' of the object.
  • 2.30 – 2.45pm: Break
  • 2.45 – 4.00pm: Lecture on collection practices, conservation issues, and display methodologies.

Day Two

  • 10.00 – 11.15am: Visit to Stanley Picker Gallery to see the exhibition, followed by a crit of the show.
  • 11.15 – 12.30pm: Playing with the Language of the Museum: lecture on how curatorial principles have been applied in museum, gallery, and consumer settings. Examples will include film, performance, and installation across the disciplines of design.
  • 12.30 – 1.30pm: Lunch
  • 1.30 – 2.30pm: Workshop to develop a display working with participants objects. Participants must consider the exhibition theme, object narratives, and display strategies. The participants will be divided into groups depending on the number of participants.
  • 2.30 – 3.30pm: Participants present back to the group their exhibition theme, object narratives and display strategies.
  • 3.30 – 4.00pm: Wrap up and questions.

What to bring

A basic list will be sent to you a week in advance of the course start date. All other materials are provided by Kingston School of Art (KSA)

Course tutor

This course is led Alison Moloney. Alison is a curator, writer, teacher, and consultant with 20 years' experience of international exhibition-making. Alison has devised exhibitions in collaboration with the Barbican Art Gallery, National Trust, MoMu Antwerp, and has received grants from Arts Council England, the British Council and John Ellerman Foundation. She is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, UAL, and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is undertaking her PhD studies in curatorial practices. Alison leads the MA Contemporary Design, Kingston University, exhibitions visit programme and teaches on the V&A Academy's Curating Fashion and Dress course. She is an Associate Member of the Centre for Fashion Curation, UAL.

Booking information

We aim to be fully compliant with government health and safety guidelines whilst running short courses at Kingston University.

View the terms and conditions for booking a short course.


The standard course fee is indicated at the top of this page. If a course has any discounted fees available (e.g. for early-bird booking, alumni or students) these will be clearly outlined on the booking website.

As an educational institution fees for our open short courses do not attract VAT.

Related courses

Kingston School of Art also offers the following related course:

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