Curating a success in art history at Oxford Brookes

Thursday, 22 December 2016

History of Art students

Students studying History of Art at Oxford Brookes University are benefiting from a new module introduced to give them an insight into the theory and practice of curating.

The new second-year module, Curatorial Practice, was introduced in 2015 and involves a mixture of visits, taught sessions and expert-led classes from guest lectures.

After a successful first run last year, which saw students presenting their own concepts as a series of ‘virtual exhibitions’ inspired by their experiences, the module has enjoyed another successful run this year.

New visits were introduced and the students were taken round the British Museum’s new Waddesdon Bequest gallery by curator Dr Dora Thornton.

Students also had the opportunity to enjoy ‘behind the scenes’ tours and talks at the Government Art Collection, Modern Art Oxford and the Ashmolean, in addition to seminars with Laura Gangadeen of the National Trust and the freelance curator Judith Winter.

For the final session, the students presented their virtual exhibition posters to academics on the module Dr Elizabeth Darling, Professor Christiana Payne and Dr Joanna Walker.

Talking about the opportunity to present her own exhibition, which looked at differences between Western and Eastern artwork, History of Art student Eleanor Palmer said: “We wanted to see the cultures alongside each other, and how they changed over time. We’ve tended to focus on Renaissance Art, British Art and Modern Art, so this module allowed us to look at something different. The module has definitely helped me understand the logistics of putting an exhibition on and Brookes has been a great environment to do it in.”

The newly developed module was run in collaboration with Modern Art Oxford and enabled students to shadow members of its staff and gain first-hand experience of working in one of the country’s leading contemporary art galleries.

Getting experience is one of the most important things you can do if you are considering a career in curating. This module has allowed us to do that and has also put into perspective what working in a Gallery is like.

History of Art Student, Molly Osborne, Oxford Brookes University

Student Molly Osborne, also studying History of Art said: “Getting experience is one of the most important things you can do if you are considering a career in curating. This module has allowed us to do that and has also put into perspective what working in a Gallery is like. As a consequence we’ve been able to determine what it is we enjoy and what career paths we want to follow.” 

The aim of the module was to introduce them to the variety of work that makes up the gallery’s activities. The University intends to expand this collaboration, with Modern Art Oxford and are currently developing a number of similar activities for rolling out across the next two academic years.

Building on the success of the Curatorial Practice module, the curating strand of the History of Art programme has also been expanded into the third year.

This new development consolidates the vocational side of the degree, and strengthens the practical opportunities already offered by the course.

Find out more about studying for an undergraduate degree in History of Art on the website.

Image: (L-R) Dr Marika Leino, Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes, Eve Gould, Molly Osbourne, Imogen Croft, all History of Art students, Sara Lowes, Curator of Creative Learning at Modern Art Oxford and Dr Elizabeth Darling, Reader at Oxford Brookes.