Offbeat...Art Curation Education

Get set, curate


For those with a penchant for interpreting art and a fascination for history, the course offers a plethora of opportunities

With dialogues on the importance of cultural institutions and spaces on the rise, the spotlight shifts to the experts in the field of art management. With massive, valuable collections in the storehouses of private and government cultural institutions, there is a need-gap for professionals who can revitalise the spaces and initiate thoughtful programmes that draw the public.

“There is now recognition of the importance of museums. With both the government and private individuals as well as corporates building new art institutions and museums, educational institutions and galleries, art studies are becoming more popular as viable career options. The demand for professionals in this field is definitely increasing. The need and number of independent curators is also growing,” says Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, museum director of Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum.

Backed by the awareness about the need for professionals in art management, the museum offers a graduate diploma in modern and contemporary Indian art and curatorial studies.

Mehta explains the need for the course and its relevance.

Most of the courses currently offered by institutions across India take a bird’s eye view of art history starting from the ancient period, which does not give students enough time and scope to explore the modern and contemporary period. If India is to engage on its own terms with the modern world, it is necessary to have this larger understanding. The course was begun in response to this lacuna.


Anyone with a college graduate degree, who is interested in learning about art interpretation, history and curatorial practices, but may not have been able to pursue a formal education in the field, can opt for this course. This is a one-year theoretical course. The classes are conducted over weekends so that working professionals too can enrol.


The course covers the theoretical and critical study of the history of Indian art from 1850 to the present. It enables students to understand Indian art in the broader context of Indian history, sociology, politics, gender and cultural studies. Renowned faculty from universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, Shanti Niketan in Kolkata, Chitrakala Parishad, Bengaluru, besides independent curators, scholars and international practitioners are invited to teach the course, giving students a chance to learn from and interact with the best in the field.

The curatorial modules engage with concepts associated with new curatorial practices taught by some of the foremost current curators, as well as provide students with hands-on exhibition experience using the museum as a resource.

Practical learning

The students are introduced to contemporary artists and their practice through regular weekend gallery and artists’ studio visits. This format gives students an insight into the technique and thinking of some of the most engaging artists and curators of their time. Students are required to prepare a portfolio with their impressions, views, and so on, of the current art practices that they are exposed to.

In addition to the regular lectures, the students have the advantage of being present at the museum, observing behind-the-scenes management and curatorial practices, and gaining hands-on experience of exhibition curation, installation, and management.

The next step

The course will enable students to seek avenues of employment as independent curators, exhibition managers, museum curators, art historians, conservators, art critics, art writers, art educators, and arts managers. For many, it also provides an opportunity for making informed decisions about collecting and investing in art.

Some of the alumni from the course have also applied for jobs at the BDL Museum and some now work at the museum in different capacities as curatorial assistants, consultants and docents. While some have gone abroad for further study, yet others have started their own art businesses or have become consultants.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 8:43:03 AM |

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