MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture

Overview

The MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture is a new programme which will take its first students in 2013–14 and is being offered jointly by the Warburg Institute and the National Gallery, London. The purpose of the programme is to provide high level linguistic, archive and research skills for a new generation of academic art historians and museum curators. The art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute will be linked to the practical experience and skills of the National Gallery to provide training which will equip students either as academic art historians with serious insight into the behind the scenes working of a great museum or as curators with the research skills necessary for high-level museum work.

The programme will be taught through classes and supervision by members of the academic staff of the Warburg Institute and by National Gallery curatorial and archival experts. The teaching staff of the Warburg Institute are leading professors and academics in their field who have published widely and are involved with research related to the topics they teach. Classes will be held at the Warburg Institute and the National Gallery.

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Structure

All students will take three core modules and two optional modules. The core modules include language and paleography classes, which will be selected following an individual language audit for each student, and are spread over two terms. The optional subjects may vary from year to year and students must select at least one in an art historical field.

Core courses:

  • Language, Paleographical and Archive Skills – Various tutors for language and palaeography classes; Dr Claudia Wedepohl (The Warburg Institute) and Mr Alan Crookham (National Gallery) for archive skills
  • Curatorship in the National Gallery – Curatorial, conservation and scientific staff of the National Gallery, including Dr Ashok Roy, Mr Larry Keith and Ms Rachel Billinge
  • Art History – Iconology – Dr Paul Taylor

Optional courses (two to be chosen):

  • Renaissance Material Culture – Dr Rembrandt Duits and Dr François Quiviger
  • Renaissance Art Literature – Dr François Quiviger
  • Art and Devotion in the Renaissance – Dr Rembrandt Duits and Dr François Quiviger
  • History of Renaissance Philosophy – Dr Guido Giglioni
  • Sin and Sanctity in the Reformation – Professor Alastair Hamilton
  • The Transmission of the Classical Tradition in Dante – Dr Alessandro Scafi
  • Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance – Professor Charles Burnett
  • Music and the Arts and Sciences in the Renaissance - Professor Charles Burnett

Students will also be encouraged to attend the Director’s weekly seminar on Work in Progress and any of the other regular seminars held in the Institute that may be of interest to them. These at present include History of Art, Maps and Society, Techniques of Scholarship and the History of Scholarship. The third term and summer will be spent in researching and writing a dissertation, under the guidance of a supervisor from the academic staff of the Warburg Institute or a member of staff from the National Gallery.

Assessment

All students are required to submit three essays of 4,000 words, one at the end of the first term and the remaining two by mid April. A dissertation of 15,000 words, on a topic agreed by the student and supervisor, has to be submitted by 30 September. The course is examined on these four pieces of written work, a catalogue entry, language and palaeographical skills, and the attainment and progress of students during the course of the academic year. Students are allocated a course tutor and, in addition, are encouraged to discuss their work with other members of the staff at the Warburg Institute and the National Gallery. Because of the small numbers involved (places are limited to 12 per year), students have unusually frequent contact, formal and informal, with their teachers.

Mode of study

12 months full-time only.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree from a British university, or an equivalent qualification from a foreign institution, in any discipline in the humanities which is related to the course. A reading knowledge of one European modern language apart from English and of Latin is required. An understanding of Italian is particularly useful. All students whose first language is not English must provide recent evidence that their written and spoken English is adequate for postgraduate study.

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Careers

This twelve-month, full-time programme will provide valuable skills to a new generation of academic art historians and museum curators and provide an introduction to:

  • Museum knowledge, which covers all aspects of curatorship including the technical examination of paintings, connoisseurship, materials and conservation, attribution, provenance and issues relating to display.
  • Art history and Renaissance culture to increase students’ understanding of methods of analysing the subjects of works of art and their knowledge of Renaissance art works and the conditions in which they were commissioned, produced and enjoyed.
  • Current scholarship and professional practice in these areas as well as new and emerging areas of research and scholarship.

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Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • Provide the necessary linguistic, archive and research skills to enable graduates of the programme to research, catalogue and curate works of art held in collections of national and international standing.
  • Bring together the art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute with the practical experience and skills of the National Gallery to provide training which will equip students to become academic art historians with serious insight into the work of a great museum, or curators with the research skills necessary for high level museum work.
  • Enable students to understand the issues involved in curating, conserving and presenting paintings in a museum or gallery context.
  • Enable students to understand and comment on primary source materials, both visual and textual.
  • Enable students to read critically scholarly publications in at least two European languages.
  • Enable students to undertake scholarly research at a high level and write up the results in an accurate and rigorous way.
  • Enable students to acquire a familiarity with the principal sources of information in a variety of historical disciplines.

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