AP6001 Introduction to Museum Studies
What is a Museum?
The course explores current basic debates about museums and heritage sites in the context of the history of collecting, care and recording (including primary source documents and digital archiving), cutting-edge research, outreach and public engagement, exhibition design and ICT applied to museum collections.
Building a universal vision for Museums
During the course, you will interact with and explore different museum environments. This will be possible due to classes which will be conducted across different museums in Singapore. Examples of strategies to construct and preserve museum collections will be explored to inculcate knowledge of curating collections to students. Students will learn how to apply basic concepts of museology to different contexts.
What is behind an exhibited object
You will be introduced to research on collections, in order to interpret and re-interpret artefacts. The course will teach you basic instrumental analysis that allows you to gain information about object biography. Interaction with actual exhibitions in museums and with the experts of the National Heritage Board will help you to familiarize yourself with the lexicon and the most common practices in collections, care, and management, as well as to comprehend the different requirements for conceptualising meaningful narratives.
The social role of Museums
Through analysis of a variety of examples, you will be exposed to concepts of museum ethics, ICOM standards and public collections management to develop a critical overview. You will be introduced to professional roles in museum management through examples from Western and Asian museums by interacting with Curators/Conservators from National Heritage Board Singapore museums (NHB).
AP6002 Introduction to Curatorial Practices
Curatorial practice has evolved over past decades and is in constant flux, mirroring the changes that social, intellectual, cultural and institutional environments are undergoing. In addition, curating is a process that requires innovative and new approaches and increasingly investigates its own fields (Curatorial and Exhibition studies etc.).
This taught course is designed to deepen your understanding of the historical development of curatorial practice as well as of the practical and intellectual challenges inherent to the field today.
Hence, you will learn about the complexity and multi-faceted possibilities of curating, as well as understand the diverse positions available within the field, such as Collection Curators, media-specific Curators, Biennale Curators, Curators of Public Art, Curators of Public Programs and Education, their specific required skillsets, and so forth.
Another main emphasis in this course is placed on learning to contextualise curatorial practice within the international and diverse curatorial landscape today. This means paying attention to dynamics such as public/private, local/regional/global, or the impact and requirements of specific regional infrastructures. Curating requires, in addition to art and cultural histories, the ability to analyse the geopolitical and cultural context in which a practice is situated.
Curating represents a broad field of “practices” going beyond the intellectual and conceptual aspects. It also demands in-depth curatorial research and knowledge in ethics, legal frameworks, conservation, preservation, and excellent communication skills to negotiate between artists, institutions, collectors, and the public.
AP6003 Academic Skills for Graduate Studies in MSCP
This course presents an opportunity for early graduate students to explore, understand and embrace academic skills pertaining to Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices. Through lectures, readings, discussions, presentations, (peer) feedback, and visits to relevant Singapore institutions, students will be introduced to both the academic and professional debates associated with museums and galleries.
By the end of this course, students will have an enhanced appreciation of the academic and professional processes associated with the disciplines, an awareness of contemporary best practices, and a sense of their applicability to Singapore and the region.
AP6004 Histories of Arts in Southeast Asia
This course equips students with conceptual skills for critical interrogation of the notions of “histories,” “arts,” and “Southeast Asia.” Its discussions encompass key moments and ideas from the premodern and prehistorical periods, to modern and contemporary arts, in a diverse range of media. Through active participation and engagement with a range of primary and secondary visual and textual materials, students will investigate how historical research on arts in this region has been conducted, and how historical narratives have been constructed. Students will also consider how the category of “arts” has been deployed, in ways that have shifted over time and varied according to setting and context. This emphasis on epistemological and methodological concerns in approaching Southeast Asia’s arts facilitates a recurring attention to how historical research intersects with museological and curatorial practices. These conceptual tools may also contribute to a scholarly foundation for further, specialized research in this burgeoning field of scholarly and curatorial activity.
PRESCRIBED ELECTIVES (MS)
AP6101 Collections, Care, Management
The course examines the nature and history of conservation, and discusses practical, professional and ethical issues of the care of collections.
It focuses on the nature of the artworks, their biography, which enables us to explore the ways in which objects are made, regarded and used, and the ways in which their condition and meaning can change over time or in different contexts, as well as these effects on conservation practice.
The aim is to gain experience in the care and handling of most common museum artworks, made out of different materials including ceramics, glass, stone, metals, wooden objects, leather and organic/biological materials, textiles, works of art on paper, books, archival materials, photographs and modern materials.
Another goal is to give the students experience in examination and condition assessment of objects, and development of statements of significance.
The development of ICT applied to museum collections and management brings a growing awareness of the importance of digital preservation and effective data management, since digital material can be extremely fragile and ephemeral. Accessibility and preservation is now a must and digital data and artworks need to be archived in a suitable repository to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of such data, so that it can be reused to contribute to future research.
Policy frameworks and good practices need to be mastered by curators, conservators and those who are responsible for collections and related information systems.
The increased awareness about the value of artworks (both as items and their symbolic meaning) helps in building collective cultural imagination and memory. This provokes thought into art and culture and identifies universal values and common meaning in collections and artworks.
AP6102 Exhibition Design in the Context of Museums
Exhibition-making means the creation of innovative structures for the presentation of cultural artefacts through interdisciplinary collaboration. The course approaches the definition of the exhibition space as a “narrative environment”, addresses the evolving notion of interpreting and displaying cultural artefacts, and analyses the physical, sensorial and conceptual dimensions of the museum space.
As exhibition concepts and agendas largely reflect the mission of their hosting institutions, you will be exposed to a variety of exhibitions: permanent, temporary, historical, scientific and cultural. Through these, you will analyze the role design can play in the communication of objects, ideas and information, and how the different elements of a display effectively blend together to create a holistic experience.
Exhibition environments today can be enlightening, immersive, and interactive, and use different kinds of media: artworks, historical objects, specimens, hands-on exhibits, audio-visuals and innovative technologies. The course will provide you with a historical overview and offer a structured platform to discuss how exhibition solutions have evolved to become more engaging and participatory. There will be a critical discussion on the latest design trends in the context of museum exhibitions to help you to reflect on the relationship between the narrative, the space and the visitor experience.
The knowledge and skills required to participate in the development of museum exhibitions are specialized, and many professionals with different roles are needed: art, historic or scientific advisors, content developers, conservators, architects, designers and multimedia developers. State-of-the-art exhibition case studies, field visits and workshop sessions with experts will expose you to the elaborate development process behind an exhibition. There will be a particular focus on different design approaches, conservation and transportation requirements, strategies of audience engagement, interpretative techniques, as well as functionality, aesthetic and sustainability evaluations.
The course is designed to create an environment in which you will gain practical experience in exhibition-making and learn to think critically about the issues involved. You are expected to bring material of interest to the class and to actively participate in discussions and workshops. Interdisciplinary design methodologies, presentation tools and collaborative techniques that enable you to conceptualize and document exhibition projects will be introduced and utilized. Final projects include independent research and the development of creative design strategies combining the understanding of space, storytelling, collections and media in conjunction with ongoing museum programs in Singapore.
The course will impart information to develop the skills a museum curator requires, which stress the capacity to understand collections by interpreting the objects and their biography, as well as how to research them to add meaning and value through conservation and exhibitions.
The curator is a civil servant who is generally selected on a competitive basis after receiving a Master and PhD degree and having contributed a consistent body of publications in a specific academic field. Traditionally, this profession has been oriented towards the care and the keeping of tangible objects (material culture): artworks, collectables, historic items or scientific collections.
However, in recent years, the role of a curator has evolved alongside the changing role of museums and cultural institutions. The curator is often responsible for working in broad interdisciplinary teams to coordinate different activities ranging from increasing collections, conservation, and exhibitions. In recent years, museum exhibitions have become increasingly engaged with embodied, sensory and emotive forms of knowledge, where personal experience is paramount.
Thus the role of curators is expanding beyond the traditional expertise required and making room for other roles in curatorship such as "guest curators" from an affiliated organization or university, or "freelance curators" who work on a consultant basis and design temporary shows.
The course will lead students to acquire key curatorial and object-based research skills by understanding what is meant by ‘curatorship’, and what the role of a curator entails. This means that modern curatorship has to be able to facilitate and promote the use of collections as a resource and curators should be able to work in teams in the museum, by working productively with other specialist colleagues, in order to contextualize the collections and artworks which may even expand beyond the traditional role of museums.
The course combines classroom discussion and museum visits to provide an understanding of the material concerns and underlying values that drive the decisions of collections and care.
PRESCRIBED ELECTIVES (CP)
AP6103 Exhibition Histories and Curatorial Narratives
This course focuses on developing research methodologies and curatorial approaches that can generate new platforms for discourse in the contemporary art world.
Students will study the history of independent curating and examine the contexts/conditions specific to the curating of contemporary art in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, through case studies of key exhibitions in local/regional museums and art spaces.
Students will analyze different methodologies and discuss alternative approaches to studying exhibition histories, with particular attention given to how curatorial practices, institutional critique, and audience studies can come into play. There will be critical discussions on current trends and topics in the contemporary art world, e.g. relational aesthetics, para-fiction, social practice, participatory art and ethics in curatorial practices.
Final projects include independent research papers, exhibition proposals and catalogue essays that are developed in conjunction with ongoing programs at the CCA and other institutions such as the National Gallery of Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum and the NUS Museum.
AP6104 Art in Public Space and Critical Spatial Practice
The course is an introduction into the field of Art in Public Space (also known as Art in Public Sphere, Public Art, Urban Art), which has arisen as a consequence of artistic developments since the beginning of the 20th century. Students will not only look into modern and contemporary art practices outside of the “white cube”, be it in the museum or gallery, but also into the wider field of critical spatial practices in urban environments.
Today most people live in cities. This course will ask: What artistic and spatial practices have emerged in the urban realm, and what curatorial and educational models have followed these developments, especially of engaging citizens into the public sphere of art?
The analysis and exploration of a variety of artistic and critical practices will also show how artistic and educational developments since the 1990s have not only changed the aesthetics but also how we think about (public) art and how artists constantly redefine their role in society and in diverse urban and political settings.
Relevant political and social as well as spatial and aesthetic theory will be introduced together with artistic examples, thus equipping students with methodologies to enter the field of public art. Field studies will explore local practices, and investigate how these projects are received within particular social and political settings.
The course design allows students to conduct critical research on existing conditions and diversities in the arena of the public sphere addressed, followed by a project proposal that involves in the urban space of Singapore.
AP6106 Spaces of the Curatorial
In this course you will focus on addressing the expanded field of the curatorial and its diversity of spaces, ranging from art institutions to artist-run spaces, from large-scale exhibitions such as biennales to site-specific work outside the gallery space, and from themed institutions to private collections. The diversification of curatorial practice beyond traditional art institutions, methods, formats and communication requires a new approach across geographies and cultures and a variety of skill sets. Furthermore, you will investigate and discuss how to create a public space that extends to curatorial practices in non-art spaces and, even further to TV, radio, printed matter, online realities, social media, etc., respecting the diversity of audiences we seek to address today.
This course engages in the underlying philosophical, social, cultural and political conditions that determine content and form. It will help you to reflect on curatorial positioning and its ethical implications.
AP6201 Global Art Histories
This intensive, one-semester lecture course aims to provide you with an in-depth understanding of global art histories (content, methods, theories) alongside academic writing, reading, presentation, and research skills.
Although the study of art history is compartmentalised into the seemingly fixed categories of western and non-western art with further specialisations along national boundaries, religious art, historical periods, and mediums, the turn towards what has come to be known as World Art Studies, Global Art Histories, or Connecting Art Histories has made the field rethink such fixed boundaries and their feasibility in a globalized world.
Specifically, this course examines the connected nature of art, not only in modern and colonial art worlds, but also in the ancient, medieval, and early modern art worlds. We will study objects in museum collections in Singapore that lend themselves to narrating global art histories, and also briefly discuss networks such as religion, trade, and technologies as systems that have connected premodern art worlds. How have networks, contacts, and encounters been theorized in the field of art history and other related disciplines? What are the various histories and methods in researching global art histories for academic research and for exhibition spaces?
Alongside deep engagements with theoretical readings, we will conduct field trips to examine art works, galleries, and exhibitions at local museums that reflect such global art histories. Conversations with curators, critiques of installations, and exhibition catalogues will further enhance this course.
AP6202 Creative and Critical Writing
Curatorial Practice is always closely linked to a wider field of writing practices – from the development of a curatorial draft to the short text for a publication, or from the press release to a grant application or art review. Therefore, in this course, you will be introduced to a variety of text publishing formats as common practices in the core of curatorial practice and museum studies.
It is true: there is no such thing as one style of writing within this context. That is why this course will start by taking a closer look at the differences in the field of creative and critical writing (from art blog to exhibition catalogue). Based on this analytical approach, the students are encouraged to produce within this course several formats of written texts: ranging from exhibition reviews, to conceptual project outlines, to text programs, thesis abstracts, amongst others. Furthermore, skills such as focused research, close viewing, interviewing, and the all-important steps of self-revision and editing will be an essential part during the sessions.
A regular presentation of texts is essential in order to learn through reflection and analysis of one another’s written presentations.
By addressing the question of classical difficulties in the writing process you will practise dealing with questions like:
- how to fearlessly approach the blank page or screen?
- how to discover your own writing processes?
- how to overcome writer’s block?
Furthermore, through this continuous practice you will be developing not only the skills to organize and express thoughts, but become more attentive to the curatorial craft as practice in various spaces.
AP6203 From Colonial to Post-Colonial Art: A Critical Survey
The course provides an understanding of the influence of colonialism upon the visual arts. It explores a historical narrative that presents global artistic production between colonialism and post-colonialism.
The survey begins by analyzing European art created in interaction, influence and interpretation of colonized cultures. Cultural, philosophic and aesthetic concepts - such as “good savage”, orientalism, Indian picturesquism and primitivism – are the subject of critical analysis.
The course studies a number of western and non-Western international art blockbuster exhibitions that played a decisive role as ground builders of current notions such as “international”, “global” and “post-colonial” art.
Finally, the course concentrates on the artistic, symbolic and emancipatory strategies developed by former colonial territories under new post-colonial conditions such as intellectual diasporas, cultural (mis)translation and emerging identities; and new agencies such as trans-cultural curating.
AP6204 Education and Outreach
This course allows students to explore the expanded field of art education and public outreach and to learn its interactions with institutional as well as curatorial and artistic practices on the one hand. On the other hand, public programs are as important as other programs for audience development and marketing in museums, heritage centers, galleries, libraries, community centers, as well as in temporary cultural spaces like biennales, festivals, and summits.
In addition to studying the history of museum education and art education, students will learn about curatorial and artistic practices in the field, as well as the latest tools for audience definition, development and outreach for targeted groups, such as new media and digital technologies, learning displays as well as educational methodologies and last but not least creative tools for evaluation.
This course will be divided between theory and practice. A practical component will follow the above-mentioned theoretical reflections and analysis. After visiting venues that offer innovative education programs and speaking to institutional experts, student will be encouraged to plan and budget for a hypothetical program for selected cultural institutions and formats, as well as for different target groups. These target groups may include children, school students, adults, families, or visitors with specific needs, as well as newer categories such as friends of the museum, social media users, millennials, etc.
The course not only aims to create a deep understanding of education in cultural institutions, but also of how institutions and cultural events become shared spaces of learning and engagement for not only visitors but also for artists, other cultural producers, staff members and donors, amongst others.
AP6205 Curating Time-based Media
Time-based media works have not only been one of the emerging fields in contemporary exhibitions, but also one of the fields that has intensely changed the processes of curatorial practice.
To understand the impact and specific requirements of these works, it is key to understand the scope of time-based media, since it refers also to works beyond the moving image. Parallel to classic formats like the single screen or monitor film/video, this area has unfolded to include multi-screen works, installations, and expanded cinema. Furthermore, this module will also put artworks that stem from fields like net art, interactive online formats, broadcast TV, radio, sound works or different performative forms into perspective.
In other words, after re-defining and understanding the scope of the field, this course will explore how time-based media connects to more traditional art forms and what the possibilities, challenges and differences that significantly impact the ways of curating are.
Therefore the course will address two specific aspects:
- Spatial implications
Audiences still watch films in cinemas, but digital technology and the internet have multiplied ways of relating to moving images.
- Technological implications
Digital technology has also transformed the relationship between film and art: galleries and museums now routinely exhibit film in shows and installations.
These changes have profoundly affected practices of curating and programming. Artists in particular work extensively with the moving image and this is reflected in the presence of time-based art in major gallery and museum collections in Singapore and the wider international art world. Also, film festivals are curated, flourishing in new formats and locations as never before.
Hence, we will take a closer look at the development of the field from the 1960s to the present day. We will focus on case studies of particular artists and exhibitions as well as influential critical texts and discuss how the development of the art market impinges on art and exhibition practice.
We discuss diverse aspects of programming and curating; theoretical considerations of audience; spectatorship and reception; the changing spaces and temporalities of film and moving image exhibition; as well as the challenges to present the moving image within traditional art venues such as a museum or museum collections.
AP6206 Planning and Designing Exhibitions for Art Galleries and Public Spaces
This course will present and discuss current issues in the conceptualisation and planning of art exhibitions, with a particular focus on design approaches and interpretative techniques used in the context of art institutions and public spaces.
Exhibition-making involves the understanding of the spatial dimension and the presentation of artworks and art installations through interdisciplinary collaborations. There will be a critical discussion on the latest exhibition design trends in the context of large collection-focused art museums, contemporary art institutions, galleries and public spaces, helping the students to reflect on the fundamental relationship between the artwork, the space and the visitor experience. As exhibition concepts and agendas largely reflect the mission of the hosting or commissioning institution(s), students will be exposed to a variety of exhibitions: permanent, temporary, the staging of site-specific artworks in the public domain of the city, as well as larger exhibition formats, like art biennials.
As it is challenging to think about the diverse approaches that might be taken to displaying artworks, the course approaches the definition of the exhibition space as a “narrative environment” and discusses the evolving notion of interpreting, displaying and communicating art, while analysing the physical, sensorial and conceptual dimensions of galleries and urban public spaces.
Artists today use a large spectrum of materials and media, including sound, video, projections, digital interactivity and often the integration of complex technologies in large installation pieces. The course will provide a structured platform to discuss how exhibition solutions and art professionals have evolved to respond to these needs when planning to exhibit, handle and install contemporary artworks.
The knowledge and skills required to participate in the development of such exhibitions are specialized, and many professionals with different roles are needed: artists, curators, architects, designers, lighting and multimedia developers and technicians. In addition, the communication strategies of exhibitions also involve the understanding of key graphic design and visual communication principles, as the exhibition image is communicated through the larger framework of catalogues, collaterals, printed and digital support materials, and sometimes requires the design of navigational wayfinding.
Exhibition case studies, field visits and workshop sessions with experts will expose the participants to the elaborate development process behind art exhibitions. Interdisciplinary design methodologies, presentation tools and collaborative techniques that enable students to research, conceptualize and document exhibition projects will be introduced and utilized.
Final projects include independent research and the development of creative design strategies, combining the understanding of space, communication, collections and media in conjunction with ongoing contemporary art projects in Singapore.