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Program Overview

ICP program

Students in the Institute for Curatorial Practice move from studying the history and theory of curation to the production of their own digital exhibitions.

Sample Schedule

Orientation: An introduction to the program and the organizing object.
Week One: Seminar: History of museums, collecting, and curatorial studies.
Practicum: Visits to Five College museums, archives, and special collections.
Weekend visit to MASS MoCA and the Clark Art Institute.
Week Two: Seminar: Contemporary art, theory, and curatorial practice; issues in cross-cultural exhibition making.
Practicum: Introduction to digital exhibition practices and new media platforms.
Open to museum staff, curators, librarians, and other interested professionals.
Week Three: Seminar: Intensive object study at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, working directly with collections to create imaginative exhibitions.
Practicum: Digital and new media exhibition concepts and content development, including research, software workshops, and pitching exhibition ideas.
Weekend trip to New York City.
Week Four: Exhibition production: Design workshops and continued exhibition study, finalize exhibition checklists. Research and writing in Five College Museum, archive, and library collections.
Week Five: Exhibition production: Final writing and design; presentations, peer critiques, and exhibition opening.
Internship: The ICP offers competitive paid internships following the program, with placements in Five College museums, archives, and special collections.



We begin with one object. Carefully chosen from the Five College collections, this object determines our path of inquiry: what themes, problems, questions, and positions emerge? The work is chosen as a springboard for multiple and simultaneous lines of investigation into an image, its context, and its stakes.

Seminars and Practicums

During the first two weeks of the program, students participate in rigorous seminars in the history of museums, curatorial theory, and cross-cultural methodologies. Discussions vary widely to include the formation of the first museums in the context of colonialism and crisis, the contemporary curatorial economy, and the impulse to curate everything. We explore strategies for making meaning through combinatory practices and the implications of representing, copying, and distributing material objects digitally.

At the same time, students visit Five College museum, archive, and rare-book collections to conduct direct object study and meet with directors, curators, and educators. The objects, resources, and staff at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Smith College Museum of Art, University Museum of Contemporary Art, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Eric Carle Museum, and Hampshire College library help students make connections across collections and start to formulate an idea for a digital exhibition.

In addition to visiting area museums, galleries, and special collections, students also visit MASS MoCA, the Clark Art Institute, and New York City museums, galleries, and alternative spaces. Destinations in NYC vary according to the interests of students and exhibitions on view at the time. In the past students have visited MoMA PS1, Kara Walker’s installation A Subtlety, Artists Space, Bruce High Quality Foundation, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Exhibition Production

Next, students form groups to curate a digital exhibition for the ICP website, Museums10, and Hampshire’s unique projection gallery. Inspired by our organizing object, this curatorial process begins with a pitch: Everyone comes to the table with a set of questions, a concept, and a preliminary checklist. Based on affinities between these proposals, we form groups of up to 6 writers, designers, and video editors to curate exhibitions collaboratively.

Core faculty of the program help groups form and articulate, in text and design, an emerging thesis. Together we research, write, design, and disseminate a curatorial argument for a diversity of technologies and platforms. During the final week of the program, groups benefit from peer and faculty critiques before presenting their exhibitions at a public opening.


Following the program, a select number of students complete paid internships with museum professionals and faculty in the Five Colleges and Museums10, focusing on a single curatorial project over 5 weeks. Interns also participate in an internship seminar once a week to troubleshoot research, design, and work challenges in internship projects, and continue theoretical and practical exploration curatorial practices. At the beginning of the fall semester interns convene for a student symposium to present their work to the public.

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Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002