A curating tool kit


A teaching resource for university art tutors to deliver professional development to students on how to stage an exhibition and events programme, including issues of copyright and IP.

Another Gallery private view at DACs Photography by Brian Benson – © Brian Benson 2017

‘A curating tool kit’ proposes 5 x 2.5 hour seminars, focusing on a different aspect of staging an exhibition. Each is accompanied by audio recordings (made from the live project) by industry experts and consolidated links to other relevant materials from across the Artquest website. These can be used as either preparatory or follow up listening/reading.

The whole session series would ideally be preceded by a group visit to an exhibition, with a talk about the types of exhibitions that go on there. This can then be used as an example for students to think of when doing the practical exercises. Alternatively, films in our Gallery Films series may be used if an exhibition visit is not possible.

If run in partnership with a gallery or similar, these workshops can culminate in a live exhibition as a possible learning outcome. In the case of the live project used to generate these materials, groups of students collaborated to devise an exhibition proposal for DACS given as a 10 minute presentation/pitch. One of these proposals was selected to be realised. If following this approach you may wish to divide your students into groups that work together as a team through the different sessions to completion of the project.

Through participating in the sessions students will develop skills and knowledge of:

  • Approaches to working collaboratively (to plan a project / exhibition).
  • Basic copyright and legal issues when exhibiting work.
  • Approaches to securing funding and sponsorship for exhibitions.
  • How to publicise and promote their exhibitions.
  • Ways of devising an engaging public talks, workshops and outreach programme to accompany a show.
  • An understanding of different audiences an exhibition might have and how to reach them.

While originally developed with curators and students from the BA Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, these materials would be equally useful for other disciplines where students stage their own exhibitions. These resources were also developed from a live student project that culminated in an exhibition at DACS (an artist-founded licensing organisation, artists estates and resale right collecting society).

Session 1 – Planning and practicalities of exhibition making

This session looks at the project management involved in realising an exhibition. It consists of a practical project mapping exercise with students working in groups to establish the necessary tasks, and identify and divide of roles and responsibilities between the group (and any external partners) to make an exhibition happen. (You may want the students to remain in these established groups throughout future sessions of the project). It will also look at what legal agreements need to be drawn up in relation to these roles. The materials in this session cover:

  • Project planning skills / Exhibition planning practicalities
  • Collaborative working
  • Basic copyright and legal issues when exhibiting work
  • The types of written agreements needed when realising an exhibition

Downloadable resources

Supplementary resources on Artquest

Session 2 – Funding and sponsorship for your exhibition


This session is about raising money to support exhibitions and projects through public funding, sponsorship, and crowdfunding. It looks at the differences between these types of funding, strategies to secure funding that is appropriate to your project and the contractual commitments that come with financial support. The materials in this session cover:

  • How to secure public funding for projects (from grants, trusts and foundations etc.)
  • How to secure sponsorship (from private companies)
  • Strategies for effective crowdfunding
  • The different ways in which public funding, sponsorship and crowdfunding can support an exhibition/project
  • What types of exhibition receive funding and why?
  • What is the right kind of funding for your project?
  • What are the legal commitments that come with funding?

Downloadable resources

Supplementary resources on Artquest


Session 3 – Publicity and marketing

Another Gallery private view at DACs Photography by Brian Benson – © Brian Benson 2017

This session asks who the audiences for exhibitions might be and what the supplementary materials are that can accompany an exhibition to best reach them? What activities can you do to maximise an exhibition’s audience and what platforms are best to reach them on? This session will cover:

  • Different printed materials that might accompany an exhibition and how they are used (Press release, accompanying publication, exhibition leaflet guide, text panels and similar)
  • Writing appropriately for your audience and format
  • The planning and procedures involved in making printed material/literature to accompany a show
  • Ways of identifying audiences for your exhibition
  • Different platforms that you can use to promote a show, exhibition or project
  • How to plan an effective marketing strategy for your exhibition

Downloadable resources

Supplementary resources on Artquest

Session 4 – Outreach and engaging with wider audiences

Peer Mentoring workshop at the ICA

This session explores the different shapes that an exhibition public programme could take, and how these might engage a range audiences. The activity undertaken will be in response to an exhibition visit. This could be a repeat visit to the show seen at the start of the project, or a different exhibition at the Tate Britain or Tate Modern. In participating in this session students will learn:

  • The importance of outreach and public programmes
  • Different formats of event a public programme might adopt
  • How different aspects of an event programme might appeal to a range of audiences
  • The practical considerations of planning an public programme
  • How to effectively work with programme contributors

Downloadable Resources

Supplementary Resources on Artquest


Session 5 – Hanging and installing and exhibition

Image: Art Licks Weekend 2015 tour. Photo by Mariona Otero

This session will examine different approaches and methodologies for hanging a (predominantly wall based) show. Covering principles such as measuring hangs / hanging heights, different styles of hang, sight lines, rhythm, framing etc. A discussion on various potential conservation requirements and the implications these may have on installation and an introduction to the role and importance of condition reports. In participating students will learn:

  • Principles and considerations when hanging a (wall based) show
  • Planning and logistics of hanging an exhibition
  • Ways to handle and wrap artwork safely
  • The basics of conservation and working with conservators
  • Condition reports and how to use them

Downloadable Resources

Supplementary Resources

A curating tool kit was devised by Andrew Marsh; Curator in Practice on the BA Culture, Criticism and Curation course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design as part of a live project with first year students in collaboration with Artquest, Own-it and DACs

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