Faculty of Arts


Art Writing and Curatorial Practice


This course explores the recent history of curatorial practice and writing about contemporary art. It will expose students interested in working with art galleries and museums to professional opportunities through a placement in a local institution or with an arts organisation, and will develop comprehensive art writing skills for a range of purposes – promotional, critical, educational and curatorial - with the aim of each student taking away a writing portfolio which they can use in job applications.

In the first semester, the focus is theoretical, with lectures and readings which will develop an understanding of how curatorial practice has changed in the last 30 years. New Zealand as well as international examples will be studied.

A 60 hour curatorial placement can be undertaken in the inter-semester break, and the experience gained used as the basis for an essay submitted for assessment.

In the second semester, the course takes a practical, workshop-type approach to art writing with lectures on the history of art criticism, and development of understanding of the different modes of art writing from exhibition reviewing through catalogue essays and exhibition labels, to blogs and tweets.

Course content and structure

History of Curatorial Practice:

From Week 1 to Week 10, the recent history of contemporary curatorial practice will be outlined through a series of lectures and associated readings. Responses to the readings are due weekly, and are assessed.

Group exhibition and catalogue entry writing:

The practical group exercise for the course involves curating an exhibition from the University of Auckland Art Collection for display in Old Government House. A short 500 word piece of writing by each student will be published in the catalogue for this exhibition. This writing, and involvement in curating the exhibition will also be assessed.

Art Writing Practice:

In the second semester, art writing exercises will alternate with the dissection of great art writing to give you a thorough understanding of how to establish an art writing style and express yourself with confidence. Participation in the classes will be assessed.

To complete this course students must enrol in ARTHIST 734 A and B, or ARTHIST 734.


Coursework only

Availability 2021

Semester 1 and 2 (full year)


Lecturer(s) Associate Professor Linda Tyler




ARTHIST 734A: 15.0 points

ARTHIST 734B: 15.0 points

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