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Our Man Michael Govan Thinks That a Curatorial Studies Degree is Kinda Useless

GovanLos Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan (who was in Houston a couple of weeks ago with Robert Irwin for Glasstire’s ragingly successful Off Road evening) isn’t wowed by the number of people flooding the Curatorial Studies programs across the country, or what they’re bringing to the table once they graduate.

Via the New York Observer:

Most of the grads are specializing in contemporary art, he noted, and “It’s creating an even bigger artificial bubble around contemporary art,” he said. “Churning out more and more people who are in that circuit, and now that field is so chock full of people—it’s so competitive.”

Stephanie Barron, the senior curator for LACMA, added that people coming into the profession from these programs “think that Warhol is an Old Master.” Govan says: “What we’re looking for is a person that comes with a specific experience or a set of ideas or a deep passion for something in particular.”

For more on this, go here.


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1 Response

  1. What Michael Govan and Stephanie Barron fail to mention about these alternative curatorial options (Whitney ISP or taking an internship) is that these are pay-to-play routes into the curatorial field. What they are advocating for is the hiring of privileged people: those who can afford an unpaid internship or the cost of living in New York City on top of the tuition to attend Whitney ISP (of which 4 people in the country are accepted).

    Of course, graduate school does cost a fortune, but the financial aid opportunities are in place (ish) now and if you take federal loans out you can cover your school costs by working at various non-profit institutions over the course of ten years, after which your debt is forgiven.

    No matter how you go about planning your path in the curatorial field, you’ll have to be resourceful and apply the skills you learn through hands-on experience. It seems to me that a great way to cut your teeth is to go to school where you have the time and resources (student curators and artists, a space, school funding) and plan exhibitions while you’re there.

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