Carleton partners with National Gallery for new graduate degree program

Starting this September, Carleton will be partnering with the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) to provide a one-year graduate diploma program in curatorial studies.

The program will provide students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the curating field of their choice through a mandatory practicum placement, along with classes.

Ming Tiampo, an art history professor who is helping head the project, said it’s extremely important for students to have the practical placement.

“After co-curating an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York [City] in 2013, I realized the importance of institutional training,” she said. “I started working with the National Gallery to plan a syllabus and we launched the initial curatorial studies program three years ago.”

Carleton and the NGC have been working to plan the program for almost a decade.

The new graduate program has only a few mandatory courses, including the year-long core course and the placement, allowing students who are pursuing other degrees to continue in their chosen path and keep themselves well-rounded.

“With this program, I tried to build something that I wish I’d had as a student,” Tiampo said.

Erika Dolphin, the program’s assistant curator, said the degree will provide students with many opportunities that others would not have the chance to experience, while also enhancing the NGC’s educational training,

“From this program, students can hope to receive a behind-the-scenes look at how museums work, which includes observing meetings like our exhibition program committee, loans review, and curatorial acquisition meetings, and which allows them quite unusual access to the operations of a big museum,” Dolphin said in an email. “This, in conjunction with the course materials, gives the students a very solid grounding in the issues confronted by art museums today.”

While the program is set to start this fall, it was given a late go-ahead from the province, making its initial announcement in June a soft launch. A bigger launch is set to be announced closer to the final days of the application period on Sept. 1.

There are two main scholarships for travel associated with this program funded by donors, according to Tiampo. These scholarships have already provided two students piloting the program with the opportunity to travel abroad and gain experience from exhibitions across the world.

“It’s exciting to know that this partnership is going to give Canadian students opportunities that were previously only available outside of Canada,” Tiampo said.   

Photos by Trevor Swann