Penn offers students opportunities to develop knowledge and experience of the wide scope of practices essential for museums, galleries, libraries, and other exhibition spaces. We are particularly interested in honing students’ skills in critical museum studies, which includes asking questions about what gets exhibited and what is left out, and why. Our collaborative relationships with on-campus and regional venues allow students to work directly with objects, archives, and other materials, learning about cataloging, preservation, acquisition, and other practices; to assist in selecting materials, writing copy, and installing works for exhibitions; and to present their research for a variety of audiences, thus gaining important skills necessary for the profession. The History of Art Department partners with the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Penn Libraries, Penn Museum, the Slought Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Wrightwood 659 in Chicago, among others. We also have strong ties to other regional and national institutions, where we can offer regular opportunities for students to gain curatorial experience. Curatorial seminars for student-led exhibitions on campus and beyond are an important part of our course offerings.
Many department faculty members have worked as curators or have experience as guest curators.