Centre for Curatorial Studies

ESCALA teaching and research space

Teaching and research space for our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America

Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is a research and teaching unit focusing on contemporary curatorial practice and theory, and contemporary museology.

Curatorial studies students benefit from our close working partnerships with our University gallery Art Exchange, and Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), which has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space and is the largest collection of its kind in Europe.

We also work with a range of external partners, including firstsite gallery.


We offer a range curating courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

  • BA Curatorial Studies

    BA Curatorial Studies is a new option among our undergraduate courses.

  • MA in Curating

    Our MA in Curating is ideal for anyone interested in starting or developing a career in curating or working in galleries, museums and other cultural institutions. It combines specialist modules with the option to curate an exhibition at our University’s Art Exchange gallery; write a dissertation; or produce a detailed proposal for a major, research-led exhibition.

  • PhD Curating

    PhD Curating enables you to pursue advanced curatorial study through a combination of research-based exhibition project with an accompanying thesis.

Our staff

Photo of installation of MA curatorial studies exhibition Abject Subject 
			at the University’s Art Exchange gallery

Curating Masters student exhibition Abject Subject at our University’s Art Exchange gallery.

Other academic staff from our School contribute to our teaching and research provision, and throughout the year we invite curators, artists and other arts professionals as visiting lecturers.

Discover curatorial studies

In this video, our Centre for Curatorial Studies Co-Directors Dr Michael Tymkiw and Dr Gavin Grindon talk about the range of practical, historical and theoretical expertise from which our students benefit alongside facilities such as Art Exchange and Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA). .

Photo of firstsite gallery, Colchester

Firstsite gallery, Colchester (photo: Richard Bryant).

Student exhibitions

Every year students taking our MA Curating produce an exhibition as part of the programme of our University’s Art Exchange gallery.

Students gain valuable first-hand experience of the development and organisation of an exhibition and its programme of related public events, from working with artists, galleries and collections to source artworks, to installation, marketing and audience engagement.

Past exhibitions

  • 2015

  • 2014

  • 2013

  • 2012

    Photo of Seeking Beyond the Surface window installation

    Seeking Beyond the Surface window installation.

    Seeking beyond the surface: reflecting, distorting, mirroring, 25 April – 26 May 2012
    • Artists: Hans Breder, Joan Jonas, Oscar Muñoz, Adad Hanah, Elina Brotherus.
    • Curators: Chih-Chi Wang, Pei-Hsin chain, Isadora Liquori and Min-Huei Tsai.
    • Exhibition Facebook page.

    Seeking beyond the surface presented examples of the ways in which contemporary art approaches the world of reflections, distortions and unusual forms of mirroring. The display featured artists using different reflective surfaces to represent reality that engages with different forms of perception and definition of the self far from empirical ones.

  • 2011

    Photo of Michel Blazy’s Wall That Peels from the exhibition Timeframe

    Michel Blazy’s Wall That Peels (1998) from the exhibition Timeframe.

    Timeframe, 30 April – 11 June 2011
    • Artists: Liz Ballard, Michel Blazy, Ori Gersht, Carla Guagliardi, Robert Smithson, Nika Neelova, Tom Pope.
    • Curators: Tsung-Yi Chen, Daisy Courtauld, Katia Denysova, Hilary Jones, Sara Kellett, Kathryn Lemkus, Jo Mayhew, Jonathan Weston and Elizabeth Whitehouse.
    • Exhibition Facebook page.

    Timeframe sought to unveil the invisible construction of the museum as a space in which time is seemingly naturally suspended. Each of the works directly challenged this often inherent notion of gallery as a space beyond time.

  • 2010

    Photo of installation shot from Neopangaea exhibition

    Installation shot from Neopangaea at the University’s Art Exchange gallery.

    Neopangaea, 27 April – 22 May 2010
    • Artists: Rasheed Araeen, Roderick Buchanan, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Adnan Charara, Eduardo Padilha, and Sama Alshaibi.
    • Curators: Holly Bowen, Elizabeth Fox, Leon Garcia Lopez de la Osa, William Heppa, Ying-Tee Lee, Margherita Molinari, Arianna Sangiovanni, and Hung-Fei Wu.
    • Exhibition Facebook page.

    Neo Pangaea explored the idea of a new Pangaea, the ancient Greek word for the supercontinent that existed 200 million years ago. No longer a geographical location, this reinvented Pangaea is a metaphor for multiculturalism in modern society. The exhibition brought together artworks that challenge and question perceptions of cultural diversity.

    Photo of León Ferrari, Rua from the exhibition Stucturescapes

    León Ferrari, Rua (1980-200), from the exhibition Stucturescapes; © the artist, image courtesy of ESCALA.

    Structurescapes, 1 – 26 June 2010
    • Artists: David Cotterrell, Jane Prophet, Sachiyo Nishimura, Léon Ferrari and Sinta Werner.
    • Curators: Priscilla Buschinelli, Elli-Anna Peristeraki, Harriet Pratt, and Carly Turnage.
    • Exhibition catalogue.

    Structurescapes explored images of rural and urban constructed environments to reveal how utopian and dystopian principles manifest themselves in our everyday surroundings.


  • 2009

    Photo of students installing Socially Active exhibition.

    Students installing Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Microphone (2008) for Socially Active.

    Socially active, 24 April – 30 May 2009
    • Artists: Aram Bartholl, Cao Fei, Rafael Lozano‐Hemmer, Paul Notzold, Thomson and Craighead.
    • Curators: Rachael Baum, Vivian So Hyun Choi, Helena Copsey, Sue‐Na Gay, Grace Zihua Lu, Sara Taylor.

    Socially Active consisted entirely of interactive artworks and aimed to explore and question the effect that modern technologies have had on contemporary sociality.

    With the emergence of new social technologies, people can connect and communicate with each other faster and more efficiently than ever before.

    Socially Active was inspired by debates surrounding the use of these technologies, particularly the growing popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.


  • 2008

    Photo of installation shot from Yours, Mine, Ours.

    Installation shot from Yours, Mine, Ours.

    Yours, mine, ours: appropriation in contemporary art, 21 April – 31 May 2008
    • Artists: Jake and Dinos Chapman, Christian Holstad, Idris Khan, Seb Patane, Pierre Bismuth, Graham Dolphin, and Loukia Alavanou.
    • Curators: Nikki Arnold, Melissa Blanchflower, Myra Brooks, Eleni Chatziantoniou, Sarah Fairclough, Anupama Prakash, and Charikleia Sevastou.

    Yours Mine Ours explored the use of appropriated imagery by established and emerging artists. Using photographs, film stills, newspaper cuttings and historical artworks, these artists layer, erase, rework and manipulate found images until the original focus and meanings are severely obscured or even destroyed, creating new visual narratives on the foundations of the old.

  • 2007

    Photo of Jorge Luis Macchi’s Vidas Paralelas from the exhibition Reality Undone.

    Jorge Luis Macchi’s Vidas Paralelas (1996), from the exhibition Reality Undone; © the artist, image courtesy of ESCALA.

    Reality undone
    • Artists: Frode Fjerdingstad and Marcus Palmqvist, Jorge Macchi, Chema Madoz, Duane Michaels, Ivan Navarro, Richard Wentworth.
    • Curators: Sarah Clementson, Evi Papavergou, Eva Ledaki, Victoria Rookyard, and Maria Tidball-Binz.

    Reality Undone aimed to challenge our perception of reality. It explored the representation of mystery and the trick within contemporary art, taking Michel Foucault's 1973 book This is not a pipe as a starting point.



  • 2006

    Photo of logo from exhibition De-sign.

    Logo from exhibition De-sign.

    De-sign, 10 May – 8 June 2006
    • Artists: Rupert Clamp, Antti Laitinen, Langlands and Bell, Paul Moss, Paul Schutze, Alex Villar.
    • Curators: Wen-Chin Chi, Ashlee Gross, Leigh Hazzard, Alex Hugo.

    This exhibition was borne out of a desire to stimulate enquiry into the language of architecture, exploring its intrinsic relationship with human behaviour and our understanding of urban systems worldwide. Using artworks by emerging and well established artists, De-sign transformed the Art Exchange gallery into a space revealing the presence of an entire language encoded within our built environment.

    Photo of installation shot from e:motive.

    Installation shot from e:motive.

    e:motive, 15 June – 6 July 2006
    • Artists: Jim Andrews, Giselle Beiguelman, Ladislao Pablo Gyori, Eduardo Kac, Robert Kendall, María Mencía, Ana María Uribe, Brian Kim Stefans and Nico Vassilakis.
    • Curators: Laura Carnicero, Lydia Gordon, Elina Leventaki and Caroline Sones.

    e:motive: Visual Poetry in the Digital Age was the first UK exhibition of computer-generated visual poetry, showcasing a variety of works by international artists based in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Student projects

Past projects

  • 2010

    Photo of the Contingency of Curation

    The Contingency of Curation conference at Tate Britain.

    The Contingency of Curation

    Curating students from the University of Essex, Chelsea College of Art and Design and Sheffield Hallam University collaborated to produce a conference at Tate Britain and accompanying publication exploring key topical issues in the theory and practice of curating.




  • 2009

    Photo of Project Biennale book launch in Venice.

    Project Biennale book launch in Venice.

    Project Biennale, June 2009
    • Contributing artists and curators: Lana Mullen, Regina Shin, Bryan Eccleshall, Rachael Bau, The Hut Project, Kirsten Cooke, Dale Holmes, Martyn Cashmore, Goesta Diercks, James Stevens, Harriet Davies, Becky Shaw, Ann Harezlak, Sayoko Nakahara, Ingrid Swenson, Teresa Gleadowe, Yan Geat Cheng, Mafalda Susin, Jeni Walwin, Marion Coutts, Helena Copsey, Fiona Shipwright, Bruce Haines, Alex Rich, Luiza Holub, Sue-Na Gay, Sarah Smizz, Taylor Le Fin, Paul O'Neill, Natalie Mortimer, Hamja Ahsan, Jeffrey Charles, Henry Peacock, Maxa Zoller and Pippa Lennox.
    • Project Biennale blog
    • Project Biennale publication

    For Project Biennale, curatorial students from the University of Essex, Chelsea College of Art and Design and Sheffield Hallam University collaborated to produce an exhibition in book form investigating the peripheral activities that extend and support the experience of the phenomenon that is Biennale culture. The book was launched at The Venice Biennale's opening week.

Art Exchange gallery

Image of the art exchange

Our University gallery Art Exchange runs an exciting programme of exhibitions and artist and curator talks - allowing our students to see art works first hand as well as to gain work experience.



The Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is a unique research and teaching resource giving our students the chance to engage with over 750 artworks from 1900 to the present.

Banksy’s Dismaland

Banksy dismaland

Read about our Centre for Curatorial Studies Co-Director Dr Gavin Grindon curating the Museum of Cruel Designs as part of artist Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition project at Weston-super-Mare.

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel

Banksy Walled Off Hotel

Our Centre for Curatorial Studies Co-Director, Dr Gavin Grindon has helped Banksy curate a Museum of Colonialism at the heart of The Walled Off Hotel which the artist has opened in Bethlehem.