Behind the scenes: MA Curating Exhibition

The next exhibition to open at The Courtauld Gallery this summer will be Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art. It’s curated by eleven students on the MA Curating course at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting regularly about what goes on behind the scenes of an exhibition, from the initial loan requests right through to installation and opening.

The MA Curating students in a meeting

The MA Curating team working on the exhibition


So far, we’ve sent out loan requests to the Arts Council Collection and The Courtauld Gallery, who are kindly lending us the works we’ll be exhibiting.

Loan requests for exhibitions have to be formally written, and they need to provide the lender with a strong justification for the request. They need to argue that the works are intrinsic to the exhibition’s overall thesis, and explain why they should trust us with the works in the first place. It’s the same in museums and galleries across the world.

We’re also now starting to think in more detail about how to hang them in The Courtauld Gallery‘s space. We’ve built a model of the space (see pictures below) with small versions of the works we’ll be exhibiting – to scale, of course!

View of the Gallery Plan for the MA Curating Exhibition

MA Curating Exhibition, work in progress


We’re now spending a lot of time moving them around in this mini-space and thinking about the sort of juxtapositions we want, and what kind of ‘conversation’ the works will have when they’re next to each other.

Being able to move these works around, even in miniature, helps us to visualise the show and make these decisions. It’ s much harder to imagine how things will look together when you’re just looking at thumbnails on a spreadsheet.

A key thing to consider when choosing juxtapositions is whether there are similarities between the works. For example, we’ve got a couple of works that make interesting use of light, so we have to decide whether to put those together, or maybe use them as contrasting pairs, one in each room.

There are also some works that we can’t put next to each other, either because of size or because the subject matter will clash too much. We’re also trying to think about how the visitor will move through the space: we have two rooms at The Courtauld Gallery for the show, and we want to create a sense of movement and development from the first room to the second.

Join us over the next few weeks as we continue to bring the exhibition together…

Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Instagram

Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art  20 June – 20 July 2014

MA Students working on the exhibition

The MA Curating team working on the exhibition