Curatorial Research Bureau
Curatorial Research Bureau

Pedagogy / CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice

Curatorial Research Bureau at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is the hub of learning for California College of the Arts Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. The situation provides a unique environment for training curators. The graduate seminars are held at YBCA inside the CRB, a combined bookshop, exhibition, and public program where students intersect with continually evolving book inventories, participate in programs, and meet visiting practitioners from the Bay Area and beyond. Students are also integrated into the institutional infrastructure at YBCA by sitting in on planning meetings, bearing witness to conversations among curators and administrators about upcoming exhibitions, programs, and marketing. This move to YBCA is representative of an effort to reposition the Curatorial Practice program by projecting the pedagogy outside the traditional walls of the academy, taking advantage of the rich cultural context of the Bay Area and recognizing it as an essential part of graduate studies at CCA. 

In addition to the immersive learning site of YBCA, the program focuses on the intellectual, creative, and analytic qualities needed to participate in and contribute to the discourse of contemporary art. Drawing in part from the history of art and design, the program provides students the academic resources and direction needed to engage critically with contemporary culture. Therefore, through the combination of pedagogical experiences inside a contemporary arts institution and the graduate seminar classroom, students gain a broad perspective of the curator as a productive agent and mediator who sees context as a primary asset, building bridges among artists, ideas, institutions, public space, online technologies, and their audiences.

Overall, the multiplicity of activity at CRB amounts to research, or the gathering of data and experiences for analysis, providing students a vast perspective on the range of cultural production in the contemporary arts, allowing them to imagine a future in many kinds of cultural and institutional scenarios, while creatively and intellectually applying the knowledge and skills of curatorial thinking and practice to each context.

Learn how to apply to the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice on California College of the Arts’ website.

Pedagogy / Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 Seminars

Pedagogy / Curriculum

The program’s first year offers courses focused on exhibitions—their history, forms, and design—combined with courses in contemporary and global art history, theory, and criticism, alongside engagements with artworks and artists. The second year concentrates on research-driven and project-based learning with the collaboration and mentorship of the faculty, resulting in a written thesis project (pursued individually) and a collectively authored exhibition at CCA’s renown Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Meanwhile, the practice of developing conversations and relationships with artists, curators, writers, designers, archivists, and arts administrators is fostered through regular interaction with guests in both classroom settings and public programs at the Curatorial Research Bureau at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Students also have opportunities to gain professional experiences and development in a required internship at cultural institutions in the Bay Area or beyond. Overall, students learn how to conceive and produce exhibitions, public programs, written texts, and artist commissions, in addition to how to connect and distribute curated content to audiences nearby and further afield.

Pedagogy / Curator-in-Residence

The Curator-in-Residence is an annually appointed curator who engages in various facets of the program. They are a leading figure in the field of contemporary art, demonstrating advanced knowledge of curating while possessing a record of expanding and challenging the discourse of how exhibitions and institutions engage with audiences and artists.

The Curator-in-Residence acts as a bit of an aggravator in CCA’s curatorial practice program, from their contributions to academic seminars, collaboration with faculty and students developing thesis exhibitions, and providing direction on new publication strategies, to potentially connecting with students in professional roles during their studies and after graduation.

Swedish curator and writer Maria Lind is the 2018/19 Curator-in-Residence.

Pedagogy / This is an Exhibition

This is an Exhibition provides students insight into the complexities of institutions, from organizing exhibitions, public programs, and artist commissions, to fundraising, marketing, and communications. Through a series of strategically organized intersections with curators, administrators, programmers, and fundraisers, students bear witness to administration while attending meetings at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and tours of exhibitions at CCA’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. 

Pedagogy / Internships and Assistantships

Work experiences providing both financial support and professional training are available for students enrolled in the program. A publishing internship is available with the college’s journal, Art Practical, while CCA’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts offers a curatorial internship. In addition to these opportunities, each graduate student receives an annual teaching assistantship to work with faculty in the Visual and Critical Studies, Fine Arts, and Curatorial Practice graduate programs.

Pedagogy / Fellowship

KADIST San Francisco offers each year a research fellowship to a second-year student or recent alum of CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. The fellowship provides a stipend and an opportunity to work with KADIST curators and director on research related to artists in the collection as part of a new initiative relating to the research and presentation of video artworks. Fellows are required to generate original pieces of writing connected to their research for publication on the KADIST website and participate to the development of KADISTʼs art collection and video library.

Pedagogy / Institution Access

Each student in the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice receives a free membership to YBCA.