Museum and Gallery Practices

Spring 2021

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Course Details

California State University Long Beach, CA
School of Art

This course is a writing Intensive Capstone. It offers some pre-professional training in exhibition and display practices: curating, exhibition planning and design, museum interpretation, documentation, and publication. Given the centrality of display and writing to all disciplines of the arts, and the vocational opportunities these skills provide, this course will emphasize writing and research skills. The class also offers technical and aesthetic experience in problem-solving exhibition design concepts, evaluation and design analysis. Students will learn different curatorial methodologies through readings and discussions, and reflect critically on the best practices of visual storytelling. Students will also gain “hands-on” experience with label writing and supportive interpretive material, gallery design, multi-sensorial and creative access points, marketing and evaluation methods, with an introduction to the basics of museum interpretation. Exhibitions are one of the key ways that museums demonstrate their commitment as civic institutions to fostering spaces for critical dialogue, self-reflection, and learning. For collection-based museums especially, exhibitions have the potential to create valuable connections between objects and people, and thus, between museums and people.

If exhibitions make “meaning” for audiences by creating stories out of objects, how can interpretation—including object labels, introductory panels, audio tours, press kits, exhibition catalogues, and “tweets”—aid in such efforts? Through class readings, discussions, writing exercises, and experiential learning, students will learn about the qualities and stakes of effective exhibition writing. Students will also learn and practice different genres of exhibition writing with the objective of understanding how gallery interpretation, scholarship and marketing often work together to tell a unified story about an exhibition’s function, value and relevance.