M.A. in Art: Gallery Management & Exhibits Specialization (MGES)
Stephanie Edwards ‘19
Stephanie Edwards ‘19
The summer of 2017 was a time of new beginnings for Stephanie Edwards. She began work towards Western’s M.A. in Art, Gallery Management and Exhibits Specialization (MGES) soon after her son Clayton was born.
“I remember coming home from the hospital and I had to read all the materials for the practicum still,” Edwards said. “I had a four-day-old baby and I remember turning the pages while I was nursing him.”
Attending the practicum itself required some logistical creativity. Edwards, along with her newborn son, her husband, and their two other children lived in one of Western’s residence halls together.
“I did practicum with a two-week-old nursing baby at my side,” Edwards said.
The low-residency master’s degree program was an ideal opportunity for her to acquire the knowledge and experience she needed to move forward in her career. Today she is an associate curator for Nine Dot Arts, an art consultation and curation firm in Denver. She is also a committed advocate for artists.
As an undergraduate student, Edwards studied sculpture. She realized along the way that her interests lay in a different area of the art industry. Rather than become a professional artist, she wanted to focus on “the narrative and choreography of curation and exhibition design.” Advocating for artists became an important part of her undergraduate experience, carried through her career and factors in her future goals.
A friend who happened to be a student of Western Art Professor Heather Orr heard about the MGES program before it was officially “live.”
The program intrigued Edwards.
“It was one of the only degrees specialized in both curatorial studies and the art business that was accessible to me at that time,” Edwards said. As a new mom, the remote learning option made it possible for her to earn her degree without leaving her young family behind.
Early on in the MGES program, Edwards interned at Black Cube, a Denver-based experimental art museum. During that time she determined she wanted to acquire “a versatile set of skills to be a curator who’s an advocate in my art eco-system in Denver.”
While in the program, MGES Grosland Director Jeffrey Taylor approached her about an internship opportunity with Nine Dot Arts. It was an ideal fit for her interests and skills. Edwards began a part-time internship in August 2017. By January she was hired as a full-time employee, and earlier this year she was promoted to associate curator.
“We represent clients and create a vision or narrative for their brand story through artwork,” Edwards said.
In addition to her work as a curator, Edwards actively advocates for local artists. She regularly coaches artists on an individual basis for free, helping them prepare portfolios or review submissions. She is even working toward converting a portion of her home into a space for art exhibitions or possibly an informal artist residency.
She values her Western experience because of the opportunity to work with professors and students from all over the country.
“Having the opportunity to work with people from a variety of different experiences and places helped me connect to art communities I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to,” Edwards said.
Faculty & Staff
Office Location: Remote
Lecturer in Anthropology, MGES Instructor
Office Location: Hurst Hall 031A
MGES Instructor; New Hampshire Institute of Art, Instructor
MGES Program Director
Office Location: Quigley Hall 230
MGES 600 - ORIENTATION AND PRACTICUM (3 cred.)
Scheduled just prior to Fall semester start date, this on-campus residency provides an introduction to and fundamentals for the entire program of study, and initiates network development. This intensive course includes a one-day program orientation, practicum instruction in on-site gallery and studio classroom settings, field trips, and workshops with arts professionals. Prerequisite: acceptance into the MGES graduate program.
MGES 601 - GALLERY PRINCIPLES I (3 cred.)
Professional careers in the contemporary gallery world require a number of practical skills. This course addresses those demands by building upon fundamentals covered in the summer practicum, with in-depth practical explorations of design, installation, preparatorship and the management of the gallery space and contemporary art exhibits. Prerequisite: MGES 600.
MGES 602 - GALLERY PRINCIPLES II (3 cred.)
Professional careers in gallery administration are increasingly complex and demanding. A key aspect of building and growing successful art galleries or museums is professional relationships. This course principally focuses on professional relationships and relationship building in the contemporary art world: artists, patrons, collectors, diverse artists, audiences, and stake-holders. Prerequisite: MGES 601.
MGES 612 - BUSINESS PRINCIPLES I (3 cred.)
Considerable planning, entrepreneurship, and bureaucratic skill are required in the building and development of successful for-profit or non-profit art galleries. This course addresses entrepreneurial approaches and business models, mission relevance, recruitment, governance, development, procurement, staffing, budget and finances, for-profit and not-for-profit business registration, and compliance with multiple policies and laws. Prerequisite: MGES 600.
MGES 613 - BUSINESS PRINCIPLES II (3 cred.)
Gallery administrators must be adept in all aspects of management, including marketing and promotion and leading and managing staff and volunteers, to grow successful for-profit and not-for-profit galleries. Students in this class learn how to gain market share through innovations in gallery marketing, and managerial skills enabling them to effectively manage human resources, in the art gallery and museum sector. Prerequisite: MGES 612.
MGES 621 - CURATORSHIP PRINCIPLES I (3 cred.)
This course examines curatorial scholarship and practices that underpin collections development, research and analysis, and the exhibition process, and relates those to the evolving roles of galleries and museums in contemporary society. Subjects covered in the class include collections development, object-based research, exhibition development and analysis, and curatorial approaches to tangible and intangible heritage. Prerequisite: MGES 600.
MGES 622 - CURATORSHIP PRINCIPLES II (3 cred.)
This course explores the roles and responsibilities of contemporary curators as investigators, negotiators, and mediators in gallery and museum environments. Students engage in dialogue and debate about ethical questions relating to acquisitions, access, ownership, copyright, knowledge systems, exhibition themes, new digital technologies, international collaborations and partnerships, and the integration of new scholarship and ideas with traditional curatorial skills.
MGES 631 - CURATING THE PAST (3 cred.)
Archaeological research relies upon sound curatorial practice; curatorship is often the only tangible evidence of cultural heritage for some peoples and most collections are in the public trust. This class explores those responsibilities through engaging with archaeological and cultural materials curation: technical information, laws and regulations, case studies, archaeological or anthropological exhibition process, integration of theory and practice. Prerequisite: MGES 600.
MGES is a fully-accredited, professional terminal master’s degree focused on preparing you for life in the art business by building skills needed for success in the gallery and museum sectors. The program provides advanced level training in visual arts administration and management, designed for careers in art galleries, museums, auctions, art fairs, curatorship and collections management.
We offer a flexible, “hybrid” low-residency program. MGES consists of online courses you can complete from anywhere in the world, combined with a two-week summer practicum on Western’s beautiful campus and an arranged internship at an art gallery or museum of your choice.
You can progress through the program at a customized rate and intensity that fit your life and work commitments. If you enroll as a full-time student, you can complete the degree in just 15 months. If you choose to undertake the studies part-time, you can complete in two to four years.
MGES is offered at a competitive state-university tuition, with scholarships and financial aid available. International students may apply for visas.
MGES graduates will be able to:
- Integrate previous academic studies, experience and interests with the education and professional training of this degree program.
- Effectively support the demands of art and gallery management in both the artistic and the business dimensions of the field, in for- and nonprofit sectors.
- Be fully proficient as exhibits specialists for art and related exhibits, including a wide variety of contemporary, historic and antique art objects.
- Plan, develop and execute gallery and exhibit design and layout, synthesizing and implementing knowledge of aesthetic and design principles, theory, best practices, design tools, technology and relevant federal and state laws and regulations.
- Continue to develop knowledge and experience in areas of interest beyond graduation, implementing the program readings, tools and educational materials.
- A B.A. or BFA degree is required before attending the first semester.
- Evidence of a program of study (major, minor or extensive course work – nine or more courses) must be demonstrated in one of the following or related disciplines:
- Studio Art
- Art History
- Nonprofit Leadership
- Culture Studies
- Gallery Management or Museum Studies
A holistic package balancing academic excellence with experience in arts leadership is encouraged. Admissions packages include:
- Transcripts showing a recommended 3.0 undergraduate GPA or above in relevant courses.
- A personal statement (800-1000 words) describing your experience and career interests in the art, gallery, museum and/or cultural heritage sector, and commitment to the arts or cultural heritage.
- A writing sample of 8-10 pages.
- Two letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors in related fields.
Accepting applications now!
International students should apply by April 1, 2020 in order to begin Visa applications.
Reach out for more information about the program.