Exhibition + Museum Studies

Exhibition and Museum Studies considers how socioeconomic, political, and cultural contexts affect creative production, and how exhibitions become—in and of themselves—contemporary art. Students focus their questions and research on museums, galleries, and other forums for display, including alternative sites, communities, borders, and places. We challenge students to consider the shifting and expanding role of visual culture to society and to scrutinize how methods of display alter, inhibit, or promote the work of artists.

Recent MA Thesis Projects

  • The Ethics of Display in Outsider Art: Dwight Mackintosh

  • Walls Have Been Built, then What Is Happening Inside Today? An Investigation into Today Art Museum, China’s Number One Private Contemporary Art Museum 

  • Pedagogical Intentions of the Museum/Pedagogical Production of Producing Subjects

  • Freight and Fraught: Architecture and Influence in Mike Kelley and Chris Burden’s 2013 Retrospectives

  • A Pageant of Photography: Modern Photography through the Eyes of Ansel Adams

  • The Survivor’s Word Displayed and Displaced: The Memoir, Representation, and Mediated Experience in Holocaust Museums 

  • Ipso Factish: Exploration of the Museum of Jurassic Technology


Andrea Dooley

Alla Efimova

Rudolf Frieling

Fiona M Hovenden

David Kasprzak

Ceci Moss

Berit Potter

Frank Smigiel

Jordan Stein

Lindsey White


With only 6 units now required per semester in the second and final year (36 units total), students can take advantage of boundless opportunities to deepen their individual practice and create networks in the broader art world. MA scholars work alongside and in collaboration with artists in SFAI’s renowned MFA program.


+ Focus on thesis research and writing
+ Seek outside employment or internships in the vibrant Bay Area arts community
+ Pursue independent scholarly or curatorial projects


Semester 1 (12 units)

Title Units
Critical Histories of Museums and Exhibitions 3
Global Perspectives of Modernity 3
Art History, Critical Studies, or EMS Seminar Elective (2 courses) 6
Graduate Lecture Series 0

Semester 2 (12 units)

Title Units
Research and Writing Colloquium 3
Art History, Critical Studies, or EMS Seminar Elective 3
Collaborative Project 3
Elective 3
Graduate Lecture Series 0

Semester 3 (6 units)

Title Units
Thesis 3
Collaborative Project 3
MA Intermediate Review 0
Graduate Lecture Series 0

Semester 4 (6 units)

Title Units
Thesis 3
Art History, Critical Studies, or EMS Seminar Elective 3
Graduate Lecture Series 0
MA Final Review 0
MA Thesis Symposium 0