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

Faculty

Virtual Tour of the Walter & McBean Galleries

Curriculum

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.

The program's structure allows students to:

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


TOTAL: 36 UNITS

Semester 1 (12 units)

TitleUnits
Critical Histories of Museums and Exhibitions3
Global Perspectives of Modernity3
Art History, Critical Studies, or EMS Seminar Elective (2 courses)6
Graduate Lecture Series0

Semester 2 (12 units)

TitleUnits
Research and Writing Colloquium3
Art History, Critical Studies, or EMS Seminar Elective3
Collaborative Project3
Elective3
Graduate Lecture Series0

Semester 3 (6 units)

TitleUnits
Thesis3
Collaborative Project3
MA Intermediate Review0
Graduate Lecture Series0

Semester 4 (6 units)

TitleUnits
Thesis3
Art History, Critical Studies, or EMS Seminar Elective3
Graduate Lecture Series0
MA Final Review0
MA Thesis Symposium0

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate substantial knowledge of global artists, art practices, spatial relations, and exhibitions, whether surveyed (in breadth) or specifically focused (in depth) – as presented in individual courses, and as assessed by written assignments, class presentations, and projects.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to find linkages between art and cultural theory, history, and practice across the boundaries of disciplines and periodization – as presented in individual courses, and as assessed by written assignments, class presentations, and projects.
  • Students will establish professional practices that account for the place of art within various spheres of cultural production – as presented in individual courses, and as assessed by written assignments, class presentations, and curatorial and collaborative projects.
  • Students will demonstrate a nuanced and principled understanding of the possible roles of the artist-scholar in the world, including as agents of social, political, and cultural change – as presented in individual courses, and as assessed by written assignments, class presentations, and curatorial and collaborative projects.
  • Students will develop a writing practice characterized by mastery of a diverse range of theoretical frameworks and of research methodologies, including archival work – as presented in individual courses, and as assessed by written assignments, class presentations, and the MA Intermediate and Final Reviews.
  • Students will complete and present publically an MA Thesis exhibiting a high standard of excellence in its methodological framework, relationship to historical antecedents, and making an original contribution to contemporary critical discourse – as assessed in the MA Intermediate and Final Reviews.