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Exhibition and conservation of contemporary art

From the academic year 2016-2017 on this programme changes into the English spoken postgraduate programme Curatorial Studies.

The postgraduate training in exhibition and conservation of contemporary art (TEBEAC) is a one-year programme for students already holding a master’s degree (or an equivalent thereof). The training is a specialist introduction to contemporary exhibition practice, museological issues, conservation, collection building and management, all in relation to contemporary art. The programme prepares for the management of both private and public collections and offers students the knowledge they need to function efficiently in galleries or as artist’s assistants. The competencies acquired in the programme also serve in the context of arts criticism, heritage management, or in the management and exhibition of design and natural history artefacts.

The main objective of the programme is to gain insight in the judicious showing and conserving of contemporary art through art-theoretical and critical research on the one hand, and technical research into materials on the other hand. Students are brought up-to-date of the current state of affairs of the international museum and exhibition practice, they make a critical analysis of mechanisms and decision-making processes and test curatorial strategies for their socio-cultural relevance. The building and management of collections is approached from the perspectives of different disciplines. All this serves a practical end as well, as students are expected to develop their own exhibition practice in which the dialogue between the work of art and the viewer is the starting point.

Management of materials and exhibition practice are inextricably linked. Each work of art is approached as the occasion for a singular case study in which ethical, socio-economic, deontological, technological, legal, and policy considerations must be taken into account. There is ample attention to the development of new conservation strategies and their implementation in the presentation of works of contemporary art. Such works indeed raise numerous questions that cannot be answered from the perspective of traditional conservation practices. The traditional emphasis on the preservation of physical objects and on scientific research is simply no longer sufficient as contemporary artists make use of an ever-increasing variety of materials and media that are often perishable, or not meant to last at all.

This programme is co-organized by University College Ghent, the municipal museum of contemporary art S.M.A.K. and Ghent University. This makes for a combination of theoretical training in lectures and discussion seminars, and practical experience in study trips and projects. Visiting lecturers who are active in the world of contemporary art share their practical experience with the students. The programme’s embedment in the local cultural field makes it possible to follow up closely on the developments in exhibitions and collection management. Networking, autonomy and a broad general knowledge, all crucial competencies to be acquired in the programme, will prove their importance here. Internships and encounters with numerous international experts serve to put the developments under consideration in an international perspective.

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