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Columbia in Partnership with Whitney Museum Creates MA Degree for Curatorial Studies

By James Devitt

Columbia University in partnership with New York's Whitney Museum of American Art has created a master's degree in Curatorial Studies. The program, part of Columbia's master's program in Modern Art, begins in the fall 2002 and includes one academic year at the Whitney and an optional researchship at the museum.

"Columbia is pleased to have this partnership with the Whitney Museum," said Columbia President George Rupp. "It demonstrates both how New York's cultural treasures can enrich the University's educational mission and how our sister institutions can at the same time benefit from Columbia resources."

"Some three decades after launching our acclaimed Independent Study Program, the Whitney is actively pursuing ways to build on that commitment to post-graduate education," commented Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art. "We are very gratified by this new partnership with Columbia, and are confident that these new students in curatorial studies will benefit from Columbia's academic excellence, Prof. Rosalind Krauss' intellectual leadership and the Whitney's innovative approach and singular commitment to American art of our time."

"This partnership with the renowned Whitney Museum is another example of Columbia increasing its 'shadow endowment'," said Columbia Provost Jonathan Cole. "To the extent that Columbia and great cultural institutions collaborate in important ways, we increase the intellectual capital and resources available both to the students and faculty at Columbia and to those who work at places like the Whitney."

"This new program reflects Columbia's commitment to offering innovative degree programs," added David Cohen, Columbia's vice president for arts and sciences. "By offering hands-on experience at one of New York City's finest institutions, our students will be well-prepared for a future in the art world."

"As graduate education becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, Columbia has broadened its academic opportunities," said Henry Pinkham, dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. "The Curatorial Studies program is the University's most recent effort to form partnerships with other institutions in order to broaden its offerings to graduate students."

Already in existence at Columbia is the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC), an interdisciplinary program that trains students to address global environmental issues. CERC's partners are the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Wildlife Preservation Trust International. CERC offers undergraduate programs as well as master of arts degree in conservation biology and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Beginning in Fall 2002, seven Whitney curators will become adjunct professors at Columbia. On a rotating basis each semester, a curator will lead a weekly seminar and direct research projects based on the Whitney Museum's permanent collection and special exhibitions. Masters candidates successfully completing the two-year curatorial track program, which includes these Whitney-led components, will receive a degree in Modern Art and Curatorial Studies.

The seminars will be taken in the first and second semesters of the two-year program. Students' research could be used in the museum's ongoing cataloguing of its collection or in mounting an exhibition.

Whitney curators participating in the program will be: Barbara Haskell, David Kiehl, Chrissie Iles, Marla Prather, Lawrence Rinder, Debra Singer and Sylvia Wolf.

The new partnership adds a curatorial component to the existing master's degree program in Modern Art and Critical Studies, initiated by Columbia Professor and noted art historian and critic Rosalind Krauss. About a dozen candidates currently participate in the program, and about half of those are expected to select the new curatorial track.

Editor's Note

Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) serves more than 3,200 graduate students enrolled in 85 graduate programs. GSAS offers both doctoral and masters degrees in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, as well as many of the professional disciplines, such as architecture, business, education, engineering, journalism, law, medicine, public health and social work. GSAS is a portal to Columbia's world-class laboratories, libraries, museums and research facilities. GSAS graduates have won 26 Nobel Prizes and 12 National Medals of Science.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is the leading advocate of 20th- and 21st-century American art. Founded in 1930, the Museum's holdings have grown to include nearly 13,000 works of art representing more than 1,900 artists. The Permanent Collection is the preeminent collection of 20th-century American art and includes the entire artistic estate of Edward Hopper, as well as significant works by Marsh, Calder, Gorky, Hartley, O'keeffe, Rauschenberg, Reinhardt and Johns, among other artists.

Published: Dec 21, 2001
Last modified: Oct 14, 2002

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